Bakers refute negative statistics on training

The proportion of bakeries that have arranged or funded training in the past 12 months has fallen by 17%. It went from 70% in 2007 to 53% in 2010, according to a new report from Improve, the food and drink sector skills council, prepared by BMG Research.

Next issue: November 5

lDesserts & puddings

Zombie cakes pt.137

Here's a delectable zombie-chainsaw rampage-gore cake to whet your appetite for Halloween, and so we can say we never let a week pass by without a zombie bakery story. Next issue we'll be reporting from a 'Zombie banquet' to mark a baker's launch.

Toaster of the week: Jesus toaster

Toast impressions are nothing new we've seen everything from cartoon characters to football insignia burnt onto bread. Similarly, Jesus' favoured medium of appearing on bread products is well-documented. Now, the two have made an unholy alliance in the form of the Jesus toaster. "It's really a natural parody to the phenomenon of seeing Jesus everywhere," said its inventor Galen Dively, founder of Burnt Impressions.

Caught in the web

The world's largest "toast mosaic" has been made using 9,852 slices of toast - the work of 40 Facebook friends as a birthday card for one Sandra Whitfield's 50th... bit.ly/9kgjBr

Mouthing off

Bake like a Palaeolithic

Egyptians invented bread? Pah! Tear up those history books (or more constructively, post an amendment on Wikipedia), because it looks like Palaeolithic humans got there first 30,000 years ago. New research suggests flour was developed as a way for hunter-gatherers to survive harsh seasonal climate changes. The Italian Institute of Prehistory and Early History in Florence analysed hand-sized grindstones found in Italy, Russia and the Czech Republic and found signs of wear and traces of plants that point to a knowledge of flour-making.

Proving a point

Dramatic developments in both technology and consistency of results have encouraged bakers to embrace the world of retarder provers and the benefits they can bring, according to manufacturer Williams Refrigeration.

Put to the test

A few eyebrows were no doubt raised when the small Welsh miller Bacheldre Mill recently told British Baker that it was in talks with the likes of Warburtons around the potential to carry its branding and its rich artisanal backstory on some of the plant baker's products (see BB, 13 August). With the major brands looking to play the provenance card, are craft bakers in danger of being blind-sided?

Barmy days for bread

The best way to understand the characteristics of the traditional breads of any particular country or region is to look at flour milled from the local grain. The cereal crops traditionally grown near the mill would once have defined the local bread, affecting the crumb, crust, flavour, breadth and volume of the loaf much more than skills alone ever could. So if you replace that local grain with imported flour, you instantly change the crumb and crust of the loaf it makes and, no matter what skills you apply to it, that loaf will never be the same again.

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