A merry Christmas to all our readers! and British Baker would like to wish you a fantastic Christmas and a very prosperous new year!

Welsh bakery wins award with Shane Williams pie

A life-sized pie of international rugby player of the year, Shane Williams, who plays for Wales, has been named as one of the best PR campaigns of the year by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations.

Small shops warned of 2010 commodites rise

Small shop owners have been warned that the cost of running a small business is set to rise sharply next year, sparked by rising commodity prices.

Premier Foods announces first TV sponsorship for Mr Kipling

Premier Foods has entered into a high profile TV sponsorship for the first time, with the announcement that cake brand Mr Kipling will be sponsoring the 2010 season of All Star Mr & Mrs on ITV.

Next issue 15 January

lThe BB75
Building on our annual Top 50 league tableof bakery retailers, BB will review thewinners and losers in bakery, sandwich barsand coffee shops on the high street
lEaster lines
It's time to start planning for the first big seasonal sales boost of the year. So what canyou sell to make you stand out from the crowd?
lThe year ahead
'Tis the season for analysts' wild and wackypredictions on the trends for 2010, but whatdo they mean for bakery?

In the British Baker archives

19 December, 1902: a moment of peace
Ere another issue is in the hands of our readers, the joybells that awaken so many happy memories will have rung out upon the December air, and another Christmas will be added as a pearl to the string of time. Many years ago, we first offered our Yuletide greetings in these pages, and many of our friends have accompanied us through the sunshine and darkness. We all lead busy and active lives. So each year Christmas, in its freshness, comes to afford a rest from labour, and to give an opportunity of recognising the deeper things of life. It is but momentary, the storm and the stress will break in again and work has to be renewed, and the ordinary duties, strenuous or monotonous, have to be taken up. But the great lesson of Christmas teaches us that even the struggles bring the consciousness of strength. It also gives us the privilege and opportunity of wishing all readers of British Baker a bright and joyous Christmas.

Caravan carry-on

Our lingerie story should convince you that British Baker is a broad church. And so it is that we extend a hand oh why hold back, have a kiss, it's Christmas! to our new friends at Practical Caravan magazine.
Stop the Week spotted a story online about a competition that the mobile-dwelling bible ran in association with Lakeland, to find the best caravan-shaped cake. The competition was launched in September alongside a feature on "how to make the perfect caravan cake" (see pic above).
Vital business info for cake baking readers, we thought, so we got in touch. "'Perfect' may have been a bit strong for my caravan cake...," caravan-writer-cum-cake-baker Alyson Warnock at Practical Caravan told us. Nevertheless, she added, they received an astonishing 100 entries off the back of it, "most of which made my cake look very amateurish."
A harsh self-critic, I'm sure you'll agree. And if you don't, then surely the winning competition entry has attained caravan cake perfection (see pic right).

Bra-faced cheek?

Winning by a nose in the final furlong to snatch the 'Letter of the Year' title is the following missive, received this week by email.
Open-minded types that we are, we weren't ruling anything out. "Pray tell, how do you envisage working with us?" we asked, intrigued by the possibilities opening up before us.
"Thank you for your fast reply," came the answer. "Can you offer product reviews? Another option we could consider would be to run a prize giveaway/competition with you? For your site, in particular, I thought you might be interested in working together to promote a new range of maternity lingerie we are about to take on Cake Lingerie. We thought we could try to brainstorm a fun way to promote it with you? Please let me know your thoughts."
If that tantalising prospect isn't reason enough to renew your subscription next year, we don't know what is. In the meantime, while we scratch our heads to find a way to make this kinky cake crossover work for you our valued reader your ideas and suggestions are, as ever,

Never too late to automate

The baking industry has traditionally prided itself on its artisan production methods, usually portrayed by television commercials showing the baker's lad on his bicycle, delivering fresh bread or a loaf gently rising in the oven. However, the multi-billion pound bread and morning goods market now delivers an estimated 12 million loaves and packs every day in the UK, and producing that quantity requires a far more state-of-the-art approach.
Many smaller British bakers have yet to come up to speed with modern production solutions. The apparent reluctance to adopt new technologies in some quarters mirrors many sectors of the UK food industry as a whole. Even major bakery manufacturers, who already employ higher levels of automation, can benefit still further from the innovative methods now available for boosting productivity.
It was to overcome this scepticism about the capabilities and benefits of flexible automated processes and solutions in the UK food industry that CenFRA, the Centre for Food Robotics and Automation, was founded. In contrast to the UK, the food manufacturing industry in Europe embraces automation and robotics at all levels. Even the craft bakers who dominate the Continental market rely on automated processes, so CenFRA's primary aim was to close that technological gap.
Many bakers are aware of basic automation, such as mixers, depositing systems and conveyors, but some find it difficult to think 'outside the box'. Issues such as factory space, concerns that automation is not cost-effective for small runs or fears that switching to robotics could compromise the quality that hand-crafted products provide are all cited as reasons not to engage. Yet CenFRA says these fears are unfounded and, to encourage and enable greater take up of automation, has developed discrete event simulation systems to demonstrate the advantages without the need for physical mock-ups, which can incur significant costs. CenFRA's engineers can draw up a "virtual" map of the baker's set-up, using highly advanced software and can then highlight prospective areas for improvement, while identifying any potential or unforeseen obstacles and influences created elsewhere in the client's manufacturing process as a result of these changes.
Traditionally, bakeries have been labour-intensive, fed by the many workers choosing to come to the UK to seek work, particularly from within the eastern region of the European Union. But there is an increasing trend for foreign workers to return to their homelands, and despite a backdrop of rising unemployment in the UK, many of these places remain difficult to fill.

A taste for pizza

Think of pizza and you'll automatically think of Italy which is why the Kaak Group says it has turned to the land of pizza, pasta and Chianti as inspiration for its pizza lines.
The only difference between Kaak and the traditional Italian pizzeria is that the company's pizza expert Italian company MCS based in the north of the country has designed plants that can produce up to 15,000 pizzas an hour.
MCS is considered to be one of the world's leading specialist companies for pizza lines. The reasons for success are its expertise, built over a number of years, and the fact that each line is designed and developed on a bespoke basis.
Says Maurizo Tabarelli, head of MCS: "The type of plant we commission depends on the end-product and the intended sales and distribution channels fresh or frozen pizza, sheeted, cross-sheeted dough, pizza crusts in trays or directly pressed on the belt and sometimes even a combination of methods. No matter what the customer's needs are, we supply the equipment and the tech-nical know-how."
Core parts of the product range are pizza plants, a wide range of automatic provers with swing trays, as well as the cyclotherm ovens from the Bakemaster series. The ovens, which heat the baked products with radiated, as well as convection, heat, are modular in design, allowing easy selection of the baking area, number of burners and burner performance.
Any type of wire mesh belts, hinge plate belts and, in particular, natural stone plates, are available. The stone plate supports are moved with heavy-duty chains located laterally on high temperature-proof ball bearings.
This oven is suitable for baking almost any kind of baked goods, from traditional bread (hearth-baked) to all types of panned bread, hearth rolls, small bakery items on trays, all kinds of fine bakery wares and even most pizza types, as the oven can reach a baking temperature of up to 300°C. Pizzas can be baked in one to two minutes.
The company also cuts down on dough handling and mess by pressing pizza crusts directly on to the oven belt before baking. This avoids the need to sprinkle flour on the dough during make-up. A light film is applied to the belt, the pizza crusts are pressed at a temperature of almost 100°C and they do not stick.

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