September has been a month brimming with dates in the bakery calendar.
The Baking Industry Awards, or the Oscars of the bakery world as I have been told by some, took place just a couple of weeks ago celebrating the best in talent, from newcomers to experts.
Last week, National Cupcake Week saw hundreds of UK bakers taking to their mixers and piping bags to conjure up a series of classic, quirky, artistic and slightly unusual cupcakes - beer and bacon to name one - to raise money for CLIC Sargent, a worthwhile cause I’m sure you will all agree.
The Week seemed to create a good buzz around baking, with the media taking note of bakers up and down the country who were getting involved.
No time for a breather, it was straight off to Munich for the iba trade fair last Monday, the place where the international bakery industry came together to set the agenda for the next three years. A hive of activity, spanning across 12 halls and attracting visitors in their tens of thousands, the exhibition was an eye opener after a flurry of activity in September.
As the industry gears up for the autumn/winter season, bakers were in search of the latest innovations and trends. From contemporary, designer cube cakes to low-carbohydrate breads for health-conscious consumers.
For those who were unable to attend, the repercussions of iba are bound to be seen in the coming months. Equipment manufacturers, ingredients suppliers, packaging firms and shopfitting specialists honed their products to focus on the current needs of customers, including energy-saving, space-saving and more bespoke solutions.
Take for example Capway Systems, which has seen an increasing number of plant bakeries creating seeded breads in recent years. Its conventional vacuum depanner works efficiently, with the company continuing to sell one of these systems every two weeks.
However, as a result, these pieces of kit take off seeded toppings from loaves, which are a popular trend, leaving unattractive holes on the end product, as well as unecessary waste ingredients.
The company took notice and listened to its customers, like many firms supplying the bakery industry are doing. It developed a needle depanner, which now grabs the bread loaf from either side using a row of thin needles, with no signs of gaping wounds in the bread and toppings are left untouched.
It’s small changes like these that are making a difference to baker firms, and will hopefully continue to progress over the years. The industry is constantly evolving and adapting to these problems, and it is promising to see that bakers can cater products, both new and existing recipes, for the good of the consumer’s current needs.
You can read more about the trends and innovation that came out of this year’s iba trade fair in the 5 October issue of British Baker.