Rational (Luton, Bedfordshire) has developed a tray that makes it easier to bake muffins in its SelfCooking Center.The muffin tray has up to 24 moulds and is made of specially developed material that prevents sticking. Once baked, the muffins are easy to remove from the non-stick moulds, says the company.There are two sizes of muffin tray. The 400 x 600mm baking tray holds 24 muffins and the 400 x 300mm tray makes 12. The muffin tray moulds are said to be suitable for baking other products, such as mousses and desserts.
The format for this year’s inaugural mid-summer ball in aid of the Bakers Benevolent Society was that of an old traditional English ball with a modern twist. The evening was a success and put the event firmly back on the baking industry’s social calendar.The aim of the ball, which was held at The Mandarin Oriental at the Hyde Park Hotel, Knightsbridge, London, was to raise the profile of the Bakers’ Benevolent Society and to highlight the good work that the organisation does for its elderly members. It hoped to increase awareness, particularly among younger members of the industry, as their support is crucial to retaining the dignity of residents.The guests came from a broad section of the industry and included the Master of the Worshipful Company of Bakers, Alan Willis, former British Society of Baking chairman Jean Grieves, the past Deacon of the Incorporation of Glasgow Bakers, Robert Lawson, and his wife May Lawson, who had flown down, and the president of the Bakery Students Society, Paul Morrow. There was a stunning display of wheat and bread rolls baked by tutor Jane Hatton and Andreas Misfud of RHM Bread Bakeries, and the dinner was created by master chef Trevor Prichard. After dinner, there was a raffle and auction, which raised approximately £3,500, and then the guests were invited to take to the dance floor. California Raisins and Unifine Food & Bake were among the many supporters of the event, which was organised by Anthony Greenwood, upper warden of the Worshipful Company of Bakers and trustee of the society, and Bala Cumaraswamy.
Inter Link has appointed former group finance director Chris Thompson as chief executive.Thompson replaces Paul Griffiths, who left the cake company in October to focus on his charitable quest to restore a monastery in Manchester.Thompson joined Inter Link in 2004 and had been acting chief executive since Griffiths’ departure. The company said that it was talking to external candidates to fill the finance department vacancy.Inter Link made the announcement in a trading statement last week, as it vowed to keep expanding and consolidating its operations to boost efficiency.The company said it was focused on further expansion of manufacturing operations in mainland Europe and acquisitions.Alwin Thompson, executive chairman, added: “We continue to move forward with reorganising the business. We will consolidate our manufacturing operations into larger, more efficient units.”As part of that reorganisation, Inter Link closed its Hoppers bakery in Herne Bay this year and transferred the business to its major sites in Blackburn.It also moved into a central distribution depot in Warrington. These two developments are expected to cost in excess of £2m in the current financial year, it said.Alwin Thompson said he was optimistic Inter Link would see significant sales growth in the second half of the year with increased Christmas orders, the opening of a new Soreen factory and a range of new product launches scheduled for the New Year.
British Bakeries began delivering baked goods from speciality supplier La Fornaia to the Co-op group this week in a move that the retailer said would open the door to other regional suppliers.The plant baker, which supplies the Co-op’s standard bread range, has agreed to collect from La Fornaia, based in North London, on a daily basis.At the end of April, it will also collect from The French Croissant Company, based in the same industrial park as La Fornaia.The deal has been driven by the Co-op and comes as the 3,000-shop retailer overhauls its bakery department, adding a premium packaged range, supplied by La Fornaia.Co-op category development manager for produce and bakery Jill McCann told British Baker that the Co-op had previously avoided using regional bakery suppliers due to the logistical challenges of distributing the products to shops within their shelf-life.She commented: “British Bakeries, our main bread supplier, has been very supportive of the idea. It was the only way we could bring La Fornaia’s premium products into stores nationwide, without losing a day by first bringing them into our own distribution centre.”The Co-op agreed a price that British Bakeries could charge La Fornaia, which cannot be changed.
Craft chain Waterfields was named Bakery Sandwich Shop of the Year at the 12th British Sandwich Industry accolades (the ’Sammies’) held in London last week.The Lancashire-based chain picked up the trophy for its new Select format store, currently on trial in Bradshawgate, Leigh, near Manchester.The new concept, selling eat-on-the-go sandwiches, soups, savouries and cakes geared towards the breakfast and lunchtime trade, opened in February. A roll-out of the format was due to start shortly, said MD John Waterfield.Waterfields, which has 40 shops, also won New Sandwich of the Year for its Lancashire Cheese & Real Ale Chutney Sandwich, pipping finalists Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Brambles Foods.Other companies honoured at the Sammies included Sainsbury’s, which was named Sandwich Retail Multiple of the Year, beating off competition from Marks & Spencer, Tesco and Asda. Its upgraded sandwich ranges have driven a 14% year-on-year increase in sales volumes.BB’s Coffee & Muffins was named Coffee Bar Sandwich Retailer of the year. General manager Michele Young said that sandwich sales had grown 14% year on year after the introduction of toasties made from scratch in its 164 shops. Toasties, priced £2.50, are now 30% of sandwich sales.Tesco bagged the Sandwich Marketing prize for its Fresh in the Capital premium sandwich range and foodservice supplier Compass was named Workplace Sandwich Supplier of the Year.
Ingredient suppliers and millers have had a most appalling time in the past 18 months. We have seen the relative demise of several of their big customers such as Harvestime, Oakdale, and now Inter Link to name just three. Scattered in their wake have been the suppliers, who have continued to support such companies as they entered troubled trading, often to get kicked in the teeth – not to mention the pocket – when that company went into administration or liquidation.If a company in administration re-surfaces with a new name and new owners, it suits the banks fine; they usually get all the monies owed to them as secured creditors, as does the VAT man. Remaining creditors, the baking industry’s key suppliers, often go to the dogs! That is the prevalent attitude and legislation. And all this is taking place against a background of costs shooting through the roof – from milk powder to butter, energy to flour prices – which affects suppliers as well as end users.Irish bakery group McCambridge, which has bought Inter Link’s 11 bakery companies, is in the process of contacting creditors. We hope it will do its best by them and wish McCambridge all the best for the future success of the new enlarged company and its employees (pg 4).But if I were an ingredient supplier now, I would be seriously asking myself the question: ’Do I want to continue to supply own-label manufacturers any more, or back the brands? Which offers more reliability?’Some multiples have been squeezing margins for own-label far too tight too often. The result is self-evident. The message to manufacturers must also be ’get your market position right’. No-one says it is easy, but it is certainly vital.More optimistically, Greggs MD Sir Michael Darrington has steered Greggs out of the doldrums in a short space of time (pg 4). And even the weather seems to be cheering up. The support given by bakers to fellow bakers during the floods has been typical of this industry (pg 8). The camaraderie is something to be proud of.Also this week, we venture a little further afield to Italy to hear about the pride taken in one particular craft bakery (pg 16). It’s a charming tale.
With consumers increasingly opting for ethical products, Costa Coffee has set up its own charity, the Costa Foundation. The company says its aim is to put something back into coffee-growing communities from which it sources its coffee beans. It is currently working in Colombia, Ethiopia and Uganda.The foundation helps support communities by building new schools and teacher accommodation, investing in water wells, developing land for families to grow crops and building latrines.”In Colombia, the local authority has agreed to provide kindergarten facilities within the primary school we are extending. In Ethiopia, electricity is being funded and supplied to the schools we are building – this is the first time this community has had electricity,” says a Costa spokesman.The Costa Foundation is funded through a number of mechanisms, including an annual donation from Costa, match-funding by Whitbread, store fundraising activities, customer donations and payroll contributions. Individual donations can also be increased through Gift Aid, a government-led initiative, that allows charities such as the Costa Foundation to reclaim the basic rate of income tax on donations made to them by UK taxpayers.”We are 100% committed to developing long-term, sustainable projects and, to support this, schools can apply for grants on an ongoing basis to provide additional resources when required,” says the spokesman “We recognise that, without the farmers and co-operatives who grow our beans, we have no business and that they are an integral part of Costa’s success.”The firm works closely with our brokers, who have long-term relationships with the non governmental organisations and co-operatives that are responsible for the day-to-day project management in the supported countries.Regular project updates are provided and there is a robust auditing process in place to evaluate and measure progress, says the company. The staged release of funds is based on achieving agreed targets.Other organisations in the coffee-growing countries include: the Federacion Nacional Cafeteros de Colombia; the Oromia Coffee Farmers Co-operative Union in Ethiopia; and Union Export Services in Uganda.Costa offers its own blend of Fairtrade coffee at no extra cost. But not all the coffee is Fairtrade, as availability could not be guaranteed from all Costa’s origins to produce the right quality for its Mocha Italia Espresso blend.
Hot cupboards and counters supplier Victor Manufacturing has launched the Sovereign range of heated drawers, to enable hot food to be safely stored in advance of use.A blown-air heating module circulates hot air around the gastronorm containers, which, combined with a water tray in the base of the unit, ensures hot food is kept in optimum condition until required. Four models are available: a free-standing mobile unit (HD75M); a three-drawer model (HD75RU); a two-drawer slide-under model (HD75RU2); and a slim-line slide-under model (HD60RU). The cabinets are mounted on small rollers at the rear, with self-levelling feet at the front, so they can easily be retrofitted under existing counters.
This French loaf of enriched, buttery bread is sometimes said to be the “cake” that Marie Antoinette was referring to when she said of the starving French peasants “Let them eat cake”. This may well be apocryphal, but it does illustrate the texture of brioche, which is half way between being bread and cake.In many recipes, the dough is made first and then the softened butter is kneaded in until the dough becomes a golden, non-stick dough. It is delicious served with jam for breakfast or toasted and served with pâté particularly foie gras.It can be shaped into small buns with a top knot like a cottage loaf and then cooked in special fluted moulds or cooked in loaf tins.This variety of brioche has been made into a Christmas Bread. It is suitable for any time of the year, but is particularly good toasted once it has staled a little.Be careful to make a soft dough and only add enough flour to stop it sticking to the work surface. Give the dough plenty of time to rise, as it can take longer because the high fat content slows down the yeast.Christmas BreadIngredientsFresh yeast15gSugar15gWater 30mlPlain flour300gSalt3gMixed spice3gGround cinnamon3gEggs, beaten2Unsalted butter, melted but cool105gDried cranberries60gDried apricots, chopped60gPecan nuts, chopped60gTo glaze:Beaten egg with a pinch of sugarMethod1. Put the yeast in a small bowl and add 1 teaspoon of the sugar and the water.2. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the rest of the sugar, salt and spices. Make a well in the centre and add the beaten egg, yeast mixture and melted butter. Bring together. At first it will seem very sticky, but keep working it together and it will soon leave the sides of the bowl. Put on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, adding extra flour if necessary, but try to keep a very soft dough.3. Put into a clean greased bowl, cover with greased polythene and put in a warm place to rise for 1 hour or until it has doubled in bulk.4. Remove it from the bowl, scatter over the fruit and nuts. Carefully knock back or re-knead, removing all the large air bubbles and distributing the fruit and nuts. Shape into a loaf and put into a greased 450g/1lb loaf tin. Cover with the polythene and put to prove for 15 minutes or until it is 1½ times its original size.5. When the loaf is ready to put in the oven, carefully glaze it with the egg and sugar glaze. Put in a 190C oven for approximately 25 minutes. It is ready when it sounds hollow when tapped on the underside. Remove from the tin and leave to cool.
Mid-way through August and the UK wheat harvest is under way.So far it has been a rollercoaster of a year: initial hopes of a large crop were dashed by the driest spring for 100 years, especially for farms in the East of England. But cool damp weather in June and July enabled some recovery, meaning that the overall crop is likely to be slightly greater than was once feared.Quality, however, remains an unknown factor and much will depend on the weather over the next fortnight. 2010/11 has made evident that what happens at home is not the only determining factor for wheat markets. France seems to have followed a similar pattern to the UK, while heavy rains in Germany and Poland are once again a cause for concern in relation to the supply and therefore cost of quality wheat.In global price setting, however, there are two very important matters to consider: the development of wheat crops in Russia and Ukraine and the progress of the US maize (corn) crop.The former seems to be going quite well, and Russia has been active in export markets. The latter is possibly more significant, because there is a very low stock to begin with. Any shortfall is likely to lead to still higher maize prices, increased demand for feed wheat and hence strong support for the world’s wheat markets.There are still several weeks to go until the maize harvest gets under way, however, so a further period of volatility seems inevitable, enhanced by the continuing gyrations of currency, oil and other investment markets.