Baking Up New Sales
From the most basic loaf of bread to the most elaborate pastry concoction produced in a patisserie, a battery of equipment and supplies is needed in bakery operations to prepare customer-pleasing menu items.
High-tech proofers in the back-of-house bakery at the CIA's Apple Pie Bakery Café can be individually programmed for varying temperatures, allowing them to be used for everything from cooling to deep freezing products.
There are few smells as appetizing as the aroma of baking bread, and savvy foodservice operators are well aware of the power of on-site baking programs when it comes to drawing customers. Despite currently popular low-carb diets, consumers continue to appreciate the lure of high-quality, freshly baked artisanal breads and the pleasurable splurge offered by a delicious breakfast or dessert pastry. Artisanal bakers point out that offering great breads to customers at the beginning of a meal is a reputation builder for many table-service operators and highlights kitchen staffs' concern with providing the best possible dining fare. Desirable desserts, in addition, are a proven foodservice revenue builder.
The innovative, cutting-edge baking equipment installed in the back-of-the-house kitchens in the CIA's Apple Pie Bakery Café may represent the future of baking technology. Four computer-controlled refrigeration units, manufactured especially for the CIA by a Dutch company, feature compartments whose temperatures can be individually programmed to provide any setting from cooling to deep freezing. These time- and space-saving units provide unusual flexibility during production planning for the facility's chefs and students, who can produce a wide range of fresh products every day while reducing waste. Four computerized refrigerator/proofers also manufactured for the CIA bakery kitchen by the Dutch company, allow temperature adjustments to be programmed into the equipment.
"Those proofers are really a baker's dream," said Chef Tom Gumpel, associate dean of Baking and Pastry Arts at the CIA. "The theory behind the programmability is that dough prepared one day can be stored in a retard mode. Then, automatically, the temperature will slowly rise to proofing levels. So, when a baker comes into the kitchen the next morning, the product is ready for the oven." Further high-tech attributes of these units make use of computer internet technology. The equipment is connected by modem to the manufacturer's headquarters in The Netherlands, where readings from the units are monitored 24 hours a day. Any problems developing in the refrigeration units can be identified, diagnosed and then adjusted over the internet.
Other equipment found in The Apple Pie Bakery Café's kitchens includes a large computerized mixer that can be programmed to perform assorted cycles of dough production and top-of-the-line induction ranges found in the facility's pastry finishing area. These ranges introduce no Btu into the kitchen work area, so work with chocolate and sugar is not affected by heat.
The biggest news from the Bakery and Pastry College at the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, N.Y., is that, as of this academic year, the size of the pastry arts program will effectively have doubled. Chef Gumpel explained that this is a result of the popularity of the program, based on the larger role now being played by bakers and pastry chefs in the industry, and the increased demand for trained bakery chefs in all types of professional foodservice kitchens.
Key Bakery E&S
- Deck oven
- Double rack oven
- Double-stack convection oven
- Induction range
- Rotary oven
- Candy stove
- Steam kettle
- Rolling racks (Baker's racks)
- Display shelving
- Display baskets
- Plastic bags
- Wax paper bags
- Walk-in refrigerator
- Walk-in freezer
- Undercounter refrigerators
- Chef's table
- Hand sink
- Pot sink
- Hose system
- Water filtration and cooling system
- Fermentation tank
- Computer-controlled proofer/refrigeration units
- Spiral mixer
- Fork mixer
- Computer-controlled mixer
- Automatic cookie portioner
- Automatic baking-sheet greaser
- Doughnut filler
- Sheet pans
- Cake pans
- Loaf pans
- Muffin tins
- Hotel pans
- Wooden proofing boards
- French-style proofing cloth
- Rolling pins
- Spatulas (regular and offset)
- Serrated knife
- Bread slicing machine
- Meat slicer
- Palette knife
- Pastry bag
- Pastry tips
Amy's Breads, one of New York City's most popular artisan bakeries, was launched by Amy Scherber in 1992 from a small storefront in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan. Starting with five employees and a few wholesale customers, the bakery has grown to employ over 100 staff, makes over 200 wholesale deliveries daily and operates from three retail stores, including a location in the vibrant Chelsea Market where most of Amy's bread baking is now accomplished.
Student bakers and pastry chef instructors share hands-on experiences in the bright and open bakery kitchen that supports The Apple Pie Bakery Café.
Amy's Breads was one of the first tenants to move into Chelsea Market, which opened in 1997 and was, appropriately enough, a former Oreo factory. The large industrial space proved to be an ideal location for this artisan bakeshop, where employees produce over 30 kinds of breads, as well as baguettes and rolls, on a round-the-clock production schedule. Amy's bakery is divided into large areas, each with a distinct function in the bread production process, including a shaping room, oven room, back offices and dry storage room, packing room, a mixing room that includes a retail sandwich production area and a centrally located room-size walk-in refrigerator with access doors located on each end. Amy's Breads includes a bustling retail area where customers may choose breads from display shelves and baskets, and purchase sandwiches, pastries, cookies and beverages to go or eat on-site.
"The action in the bakery moves from one point to the next during the course of the day, with a clean-up crew following right behind," explained David Chaffin, general manager for Amy's Chelsea Market bakery. "Passersby in Chelsea Market, who can watch our bakers shaping and baking breads through glass walls, will not see heavy industrial machinery that one might find in an automated baking factory. Almost all of the work done here is by hand when it comes to creating artisan breads. This is because this technique is gentler on the dough, providing for a better bread texture and a fuller flavor," Chaffin explained.
Key equipment in the mixing room at Amy's Breads includes a sink and hose system, a fermentation tank, two spiral mixers and a fork mixer dedicated to dough preparation.
Equipment found in Amy's mixing room includes a large sink with a hose system, two spiral dough mixers and one fork mixer, as well as a fermentation tank used for sourdough starter. The mixers accommodate batches of 165 lbs. to 660 lbs., and dough production averages about 5,250 lbs., according to Chaffin. Adjacent to the mixing room, a cooling and filtration system works to assure the purity and correct temperature of water used when doughs are mixed. To support popular retail sales of sandwiches at Amy's, the mixing room accommodates a sandwich prep area, including a large butcher-block chef's table, a sink, a meat and cheese slicer and a stainless prep counter supported by undercounter refrigeration units.
In the shaping room, where bakers busily knead, form and pan doughs, a divider is used to cut bread mixes into 12 uniform parts to fit into individual stainless loaf pans. A divider/rounder cuts and rounds dough for rolls, and some types of breads are kneaded, twisted or rolled out with specialized rolling pins completely by hand and placed on wooden proof boards that have been pre-covered with flour-seasoned French cloth. Loaf pans or proof boards are sheeted and slid into rolling shelf-racks in preparation for proofing and baking.
"We're fortunate here in Amy's baking facilities to have such an ample sized walk-in refrigerator, as we need no separate dough proofers," commented Chaffin. "We have a system of labeling rolling racks of product as they come into the walk-in so that we know when each rack is ready to move into the oven room for baking. Our oven room features an industrial ventilation system," continued Chaffin, "which is used in conjunction with two deck ovens and a double rack oven for bread baking." Long-handled paddles and a sheeter belt facilitate bakers' tasks of loading and removing breads in Amy's oven room. After cooling, breads are sliced and packaged as necessary in wax paper bags or plastic bags for delivery to other business outlets and retail sales.
At Amy's Breads in NYC, a baker's sheeter facilitates staff members' tasks in the oven room, which contains two deck ovens and a double rack oven used for bread baking.
Although breads for dining-hall service at Boston University are purchased from food purveyors, a 1,200-sq.-ft., stand-alone bakery on campus is responsible for preparing all other baked goods offered to students, which are freshly made every day. According to BU's Executive Chef Chris Eismann, bakers arrive on-site at 3 a.m. to prepare the first early-morning batch of croissants, muffins, Danish and fruit breads for delivery to seven dining units on campus, including a catering facility. A second delivery from the central BU bakery, generally in mid-morning, consists of the fresh cookies, brownies, cakes, pies, éclairs and specialty items that students on campus gobble up at lunch and dinner. The facility's 12 dedicated rolling racks are put to use every day to help staff make timely deliveries.
Capital equipment found in BU's compact bakery area includes two large mixers with 140- and 120-qt. capacity, a large rotary oven, a double-stack convection oven, a proofer, a steam kettle used in the preparation of custards and other pastry fillings, a baker's sheeter used to roll out dough, a candy stove, which is particularly useful when working with chocolate and a convenient pot-washer, according to Chef Eismann. "Most of the BU bakery's major equipment, notably our ovens, is decades-old," he added. "This equipment was so well built and durable that we haven't needed or wanted to upgrade. We have added labor-saving equipment in our bakery, such as an automatic grease-spray machine for pre-greasing pans. Our automatic cookie machine, which consists of a hopper to receive dough and a hand-crank to deposit portioned dough onto sheets, is a vital piece of equipment, as we produce a minimum of 80 to 100 doz. cookies a day.
"Smallwares and specialized support equipment in our bakery operations are more varied and frequently replaced," continued Eismann. "In our operations, we use four different sized cake pans, three sizes of muffin tins, hotel pans, half-hotel pans and sheet pans. Spatulas, offset spatulas, serrated knives and specially sized rolling pins that can work with dough from sheet pans are extensively used in our bakery every day. We also use a doughnut-filling machine for our fresh doughnuts and éclairs, and palette knives, pastry bags and pastry tips for cake decoration. Our fresh-baked goods are deservedly appreciated by our campus population here at Boston University," concluded Eismann, "and being able to provide appropriately decorated cakes for special occasions has always been a big crowd-pleaser on campus."