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3. Baked goods


Nutritional significance
Production
Processing
Packaging and storage
Suitability for small-scale production

Baked goods are widely available in many countries. Generally they fall into the main categories of breads, biscuits, cakes, and pastries, and are consumed by people from most income groups.

Selling baked goods from a bicycle

Baked goods also make up a proportion of street foods. In this form, they offer convenience and provide a cheap source of energy, which is important for those who travel to work and rely on such foods for their first meal of the day.

Grains and flours have a relatively long shelf-life. The purpose of baking is therefore not for preservation, but to change the eating quality of staple foodstuffs and to add variety to the diet. The growth of food-poisoning organisms is less likely to occur in baked goods than in other low-acid foods such as meat, milk, and fish. However, it is still necessary to check the quality of raw materials and hygienic conditions during processing.

Baked goods such as breads and pastries have a shelf-life in the range of 2-5 days, whereas others, such as biscuits and some types of cake, have a shelf-life of several months, when correctly packaged.

Nutritional significance

The main ingredients in baked goods are flours from cereals such as wheat, maize, and sorghum. In general, all flours contain valuable amounts of energy, protein, iron and vitamins, but the degree of milling will influence the final nutritional content.

Traditional milling produces a flour which contains all of the crushed grain. Although these flours often have a coarse texture and an off-white colour, they contain many B vitamins, minerals, and also fibre. The desire for white flour however, has led to a milling process which removes the bran and, as a result, many nutrients are lost.

Many baked products incorporate high levels of fat, sugar, and sometimes fruit or nuts, and this will increase the energy content of the products.

Production

Baking is a process which uses heated air to alter the eating quality of foods. A secondary purpose is preservation, by destroying microorganisms and reducing the moisture content at the surface of the food.

In this chapter, 'baked goods' refers to breads and flour confectionery, but it is also possible to apply the process to meat, fruits, and vegetables. The process in these cases is often referred to as 'roasting'.

Baked goods are produced from either doughs or batters, which are a mixture of flour and water made by mixing, beating, kneading, or folding. The process will depend on the product being made and the ingredients used.

The tables overleaf outline the types of process and the equipment required to make a representative range of products.

Processing stages

Process/product

Mix

Ferment

Form

Prove

Knock back

Bake

Pack

Leavened bread

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

Buns

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

Biscuits

*


*



*

*

Pastries

*


*



*

*

Cake

*


*



*

*

Unleavened bread

*


*



*

*

Equipment required

Processing stage

Equipment

Section reference

Mix

Liquid mixer

43.1

Solid mixer

43.2

Ferment

Proofing cabinet


Form

Bread:


Dough moulder

45.2

Biscuits:


Rolling machinery

59.0


Depositor

20.0


Dough cutter

45.2

Pastry:


Rolling machinery

59.0


Pastry mould

45.2

Cakes:


Baking tints

45.3

Prove

Same as for the fermenting stage


Knock back



Bake

Oven

46.0

Pack

Polyethylene or cellophane wrapping/sealing machines

47.1

Processing

Raw materials

Wheat flour contains a substance called gluten. This is responsible for providing the internal structure of products such as bread and some biscuits. Depending on the variety and the climate in which it is grown, wheat will contain different quantities of gluten. For example, flours which contain low levels are known as 'soft' or 'week' flours, and those with high levels are known as 'strong' flours.

The type of wheat flour used will depend on the product being made. Bread and biscuits require a strong flour, whereas cake flours are usually medium to weak in strength.

Flours from cassava and rice may be used as a substitute for wheat, but as they do not contain gluten, a maximum substitution rate of 25 per cent is possible before differences in taste and texture become very noticeable. Additionally, there are many other products that are made completely from flours such as maize or rice.

Mixing dough

Mixing

All doughs and batters are mixed to achieve a smooth consistency and to ensure an even distribution of ingredients. This is usually done using simple hand-operated tools, but if a large quantity is to be produced it may be more convenient to use a powered mixer.

Mixers are classified according to the type of product that they are used for, i.e. either solids or liquids. A common solids mixer operates with a planetary action and can be fitted with a hook for pastry or dough, or a 'K-beater' for dry powders. Liquid mixers include a balloon-whisk attachment for batters or propeller-type mixers for thin liquids such as sugar solutions.

Fermentation

For some products it is not necessary for the dough to rise, or for the final texture to be open and porous. Such examples are unleavened breads such as roti, chapatti, and tacos, which as the group-name suggests do not require fermentation. Other products, such as scones or soda bread, rely on gas produced by added sodium bicarbonate to raise the dough and produce the desired crumb texture. In cakes, air is incorporated into the batter during mixing to give an open structure to the crumb after baking.

Only bread and buns are fermented to produce the open porous crumb. In this case added yeast ferments (breaks down) the sugars in the flour (and/or added sugar) to produce a gas, called carbon dioxide, which raises the dough. No special equipment is required to bring about fermentation. The dough is covered with a damp cloth or polythene and left to rest at a temperature of 32-35°C until it becomes fully inflated with carbon dioxide. To achieve this, the dough may be left near to the oven where it is warm, or in a temperature-controlled cabinet known as a proving cabinet.

Proving is the name given to a process of secondary fermentation which is applied to bread and bun dough. It is necessary because as the dough is being shaped some of the carbon dioxide is lost and the dough structure partially collapses. The aim of proving is to ferment the dough a little more and regain the carbon dioxide levels and therefore the open structure.

Kneading/forming/moulding

Kneading is a process of stretching and folding dough. In doing so the gluten fibres are stretched and the consistency of the dough becomes smooth. Kneading is most usually done by hand, but if a large quantity is being produced it can be a tiring task and a powered kneader may be preferred.

After kneading, the dough has to be formed into the desired shape and size. The method for doing this will depend upon the type of product, for example, bread dough can either be cut, folded, or plaited into shape. For production above the household level, a machine known as a dough divider can be used to cut the dough into accurately-weighed pieces, out of which the individual loaves or buns will be produced.

Biscuit doughs are rolled out and cut using either a knife or a shaped biscuit cutter. Pastry dough can be handled in a similar way. In the production of pies, a pastry mould is used to retain the shape of the dough during baking.

Baking

During baking, food is heated by the hot air, and also by the oven floor and trays. Moisture at the surface of the food is evaporated by the hot air, and this leads to a dry crust in products such as bread and many biscuits. If a glazed product is desired then it will be necessary to either inject steam, or place a pan of water in the oven. Oven temperatures for baking depend on the type, size, and shape of the product, and the nature of the ingredients.

The table outlines some typical combinations:

Moulding dough

Oven temperatures for baking

Product

Degrees F

Degrees C

Time (minutes)

Cake

350

176

45-60

Pastry

450

232

15-20

Biscuits

425-450

218-232

10-15

Bread

400

204

30-40

A range of wood, charcoal, gas, or electric ovens is available. The choice will depend on the cheapest and most widely available fuel in a particular area.

Packaging and storage

In general, baked goods have a short shelf-life, but for products such as biscuits, this can be extended from a few days to several weeks, or months, if packaged correctly.

Many biscuits are characterized by their crispness, and as a result need a low moisture content. In order to prevent the biscuit from becoming soggy, it is important that the packaging material prevents the uptake of moisture from the surrounding air. In addition, biscuits that contain fat should be protected from light, air, and heat to prevent development of 'off' flavours due to rancidity. Plastic films, glass jars, or metal tins are all acceptable packaging materials.

Putting bread into the oven

As bread is usually eaten within one or two days after purchase, the main purpose of packaging is to keep the bread clean. Simple paper or polythene wrapping is often used. If polythene is used, the bread should be packed after it has cooled to prevent condensation of water inside the pack and resulting wet spots which cause mould growth.

The packaging and storage conditions for cakes depend on their moisture content and the relative humidity of the surrounding air. Each cake must be judged by its composition and the intended shelf-life. Light cakes, such as those made from flour, sugar, and egg, have a shelf-life of only a few days if not packaged. Fruit-cakes however have a more dense structure and a longer shelf-life. This can be extended to several years by coating the cake in marzipan (ground almond paste) and icing sugar, both of which act as a moisture barrier.

Suitability for small-scale production

Baked goods provide plenty of scope for the producer to use locally available ingredients to create a variety of value-added products. In general, it is more profitable to produce buns, biscuits, and cakes than bread. However, it is very difficult to predict the profitability for such goods in specific areas, as prices for wheat flour vary from country to country and are heavily affected by price and import subsidies. Packaging requirements are often minimal as many of the products are for immediate consumption. This therefore reduces some of the problems for producers in terms of availability and access to packaging materials.


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