Paul Catterall

Bakery technology manager, Campden BRI

Well the new harvest is in, so it is that time of the year when everything that goes wrong in the bakery can be blamed on the ’new crop’ flour! Millers have a difficult job; they have to produce a consistent product from an infinitely variable raw material. And as bakers, we expect one flour to make a variety of products perfectly. So we don’t want much then?

A true baker should have the knowledge and skills to recognise normal variations in flour and have the experience to deal with the issues. It worries me that some of the people I meet these days in bakeries don’t have these skills and, just as importantly, they don’t have the passion for bakery products. How can we ask our staff to make a ’good’ loaf if they don’t understand what a ’good’ loaf looks like? The consumer definitely knows what they want, and if they don’t like what they see they will go elsewhere. Good quality will always sell.

We all talk about training and skills development, and we take exception if we are told there is not enough training being done. Good training is not a ’tick box’ exercise "We’ve done training now, so what’s next?" It has to be continuous, it has to be refreshed, it has to be involved in all aspects of the product from the raw materials, through processing to final product characteristics.

The winner of this year’s Trainee Baker of the Year at the BIA is exactly the sort of person we need in the industry. He expressed great wonderment at how products were made, how they rose in the oven, and what they tasted like. He had opinions on quality and a passion for bakery that was very obvious. It was good to see such enthusiasm in a newcomer to the industry. It makes you realise the passion is still there; it just may need unlocking.