Paul Catterall,
Training and bakery manager, Campden BRI

’Twas the night before Christmas... Is it really next week? It sneaks up on us all every year. We seem to have plenty of time in November and then, before you know it, it’s staring us straight in the face.
Of course, we in the baking industry are not surprised by this; it’s such a busy time that we have to plan well ahead. Everyone knows that for long-life products such as Christmas cakes and puddings, we start back in the spring. Other products we can actually freeze until nearer the time.
This leads me neatly into one of my pet themes understanding raw materials and what they do. Now this can work in two directions: we have come across clients with products that have far too many ingredients, probably all put in for some reason that has long ago been forgotten. The record is 22 in a single cake recipe and this was whittled down to just 12 while maintaining the quality.
On the other hand, we have also had customers that have taken out or changed an ingredient maybe due to cost or to clean up the ingredients label only to find a few weeks down the road that the product has a shorter shelf-life. Every ingredient in a recipe has to pay for itself. So, do you know what all the ingredients in your products are doing?
In the past, this column has talked about the need for good bakery training and the National Skills Academy has been trialling what is hoped to be the first of a series of courses aimed at improving the technical knowledge and skills of the industry. More about this next year. Until then, I wish you all a very Happy Christmas and a prosperous New Year.