Bollin Dale Engineering is supplying a complete line for production of Jaffa Cake style biscuits to a customer in Iran.The 1.2-metre wide line, valued at £1.3m, is on its way to the factory and will be installed and commissioned by Macclesfield-based Bollin Dale. It will have an output of 750kg per hour – 18 cakes across 60 rows a minute. The line consists of a batter preparation and aeration system, batter depositing unit, travelling oven and cooling system, jam preparation/depositing system and forced cooling and chocolate enrobing stations. All parts except the oven and enrober have been designed and manufactured in-house.Until recently, Bollin Dale was the principal machining shop for Asser Oakes. It now produces and markets its own equipment.
A straight-talking Mancunian has just taken over as national president of the National Association of Master Bakers (NA). You may think there is nothing unusual in that, but Shirley Ryder is not only the youngest person ever to hold the post but she’s also the first woman to be crowned president. Born and bred in Fallowfield, Manchester, her first job was as a Saturday girl in the bakery she now runs with husband Graham, who has owned Peter’s Bakery since the early 1970s.The pair have an unusual way of working for a small family-owned bakery. They make large batches of dough, freeze it and bake-off daily over a seven- to 10-day cycle. They make the traditional products of a local bakery, but apply the techniques of some of the supermarkets.Shirley has been a director of the NA since it changed from an association to a company in 2000. She first joined 12 years ago and went on to be the president for the Manchester Association in 1998 and then regional president for the North West and North Wales region before becoming national president in May.So what does her new role involve? “Well, I am a figurehead for the NA and represent it at national level,” she replies. “I am required to attend conferences, regional meetings, AGMs and dinners, as well as the Baking Industry Awards. “I see the role as an honour because there are many members in the NA who could have been asked, but they chose me. As I see it, to ask a 39-year-old woman is quite an accolade – I am looking forward to it being a good year.”Shirley says there are many benefits to being an NA member. “We have made some very good friends through the NA. We have also received advice on employment and health and safety issues, but really it’s an ongoing benefit. Being a member is worth its weight in gold. For instance, when we need things like motor insurance, it’s always cheaper if you are part of the NA. I’m not just saying this because I’m a director. It’s a fact: the benefits far outweigh the cost.” Another key role of the NA is to stand up to government on policies and legislation if it believes it will be detrimental to the industry. “We are not only fighting for our members but for the trade as a whole,” she says, “so even non-members benefit. But it would certainly help our cause if more people joined. Membership is crucial.” Modern techniquesWith a diary full of presidential engagements, many craft bakers would worry about burnout. But the way Peter’s the Bakers works – making large batches of dough which are then frozen – means life shouldn’t be too hard for Shirley. Graham and Shirley see themselves as traditional bakers that are making the most of modern techniques. “We work on the theory that if we can’t freeze it, we don’t make it,” says Shirley. “It really is just a case of changing the system to suit us, we’ve done it for such a long time that there are very few errors.”This policy of fitting work around life also applies to the Ryders’ summer break, which sees the shop close down for two weeks in August. “Our customers just order extra bread beforehand, come in on the last day and take it home to freeze,” says Shirley. So if making large batches of dough to freeze is such an effective system, why are more bakers not using it? “People think it doesn’t work, but we have always gone with the flow and changed things to suit our needs,” says Shirley. “Graham has been doing it for years and it has always been a success. When pre-mixes became popular in the 1980s and were widely used by the supermarkets, it really hit the industry hard. But to us it was nothing new, we were already making our own pre-mixes. It really suits us and means we don’t have to get up in the middle of the night to go to work. “The whole system caught our imagination and, over time, we have adapted it and made it work for us. We still employ skilled staff and they just adapt to a different way of working. They all seem to prefer our way because the hours are more sensible.”Tools for the jobIt is not only their system which the Ryders believe has helped them survive the battle of the fittest – they also have a fundamental belief in investing in equipment. Graham has always held the philosophy of buying good equipment and that remains his one main piece of advice to others. “We believe in making the equipment work for us. Some bakers just can’t break away from the tradition of getting up at 3am because they feel they need to make the bread from scratch. Modern equipment allows bakers more freedom and, hopefully, we can start to change the way our trade is perceived – it’s not all early starts and long hours!”Peter’s bread sales have dipped in recent years, but there are signs they are increasing again. But it is still a long way from the volumes of 10 years ago, admits Graham. “We both have a philosophy that we would never put anything in the shop that we are not prepared to eat ourselves and that’s what we’ve instilled in all our staff. As long as you work on that mentality, then you can’t go far wrong,” says Shirley. “We are always willing to try new products. If we go to another bakery and see they are doing something we’re not, then we will try it. I will always take ideas on board because if you try it and it doesn’t work, you haven’t lost anything.”The lunchtime trade consists of soup, sandwiches and pies – “nothing too fancy”, says Shirley. “We make what the customers want and they buy it, it’s no good trying to be what you are not. If you have a city centre shop where the customer wants salmon and ciabatta then that’s fine, but here they don’t. So why try and force it on them?”Cakes and confectionery are all made in-house and celebration cakes average about six per week. Photographs and captions can be added. On the wholesale side, the bakery now only supplies local schools and social clubs. Some years ago, Shirley and Graham had begun to overstretch themselves on wholesale business and decided to place more emphasis on retail. Shirley adds: “That’s when we really got a life.”Quality productsSo is there any competition? “Yes, there’s a sandwich shop just down the road but custo-mers still come to us. I believe our products are good enough to withstand the competition.“Even though we are in the middle of a council estate, the customer still wants quality. It doesn’t matter what type of area you live in people will always want a quality product.” The bakery is situated in the middle of three neighbouring supermarkets – Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco – and, just over a year ago, a free bus service for shoppers to Asda was introduced.However, Shirley is philosophical about the situation: “The way Graham and I look at it is that we produce a quality product at a reasonable price and even though the bulk of our customers will shop in Asda, they come back to us for their bread, cakes and cooked meats. We know the product is right.”Shirley only enters the occasional competition – namely the North West and North Wales Region Association, which holds a competition at its AGM. A couple of years ago, she won the Peter Herd Trophy for a barm cake with roast beef and mustard baked into it. In 2006, she picked up first place trophies for her hot cross buns and large bloomer, as well as a second place for a family pork pie.The business employs nine staff including two Saturday girls. It also ‘employee-shares’ a member of staff with another baker in nearby Cheadle. Because of the system Shirley and Graham use, they only need a baker for two or three days a week. It is his job to fill and restock the free-zers with dough, which means production can be planned in advance and everyone can start work at a reasonable time each day.Shirley says they have a loyal staff base and, a year ago, were awarded ‘Investors in People’.“We also tend to use part-time staff in the shop as it is easier to swap them about to provide cover. All our staff are well presented. Overalls have to be clean and ironed. They are the face of our business and the first thing that people see. We put all our staff through an NVQ in retailing. If you don’t have decent staff at the front of the business, you will never achieve anything at the back.”Top tipsSo, apart from investing in equipment, what would Shirley and Graham’s top tips be to other bakers? “You can change the way you bake and invest in your staff,” says Shirley. “Always have a nice shop – if you’re going to spend money, spend it on the front of the shop as it’s what people see first. But perhaps the most important tip is to keep your husband off the premises! I couldn’t work with Graham all day every day because it would drive me insane. I have my way of doing things and he has his.” Graham runs the financial and administrative side of the business, while Shirley runs the bakery itself. She took over the day-to-day running of the bakery some seven years ago and, in 2003, the shop underwent a major refit. “Graham comes in when I need him to do so, but otherwise he stays out of the way. Between us the combination works and we have a successful business. I really don’t know how other couples get on.” She continues: “Being president of the NA, if I have to go to London for a meeting then Graham will come in and carry this place while I’m gone and we work it between us. Although we try to keep him out of here as much as we can, he keeps turning up!”Shirley and Graham, who have been partners for a number of years, finally tied the knot and got married on New Year’s Day 2006 in Gretna Green. So who wears the trousers? “We are an equal partnership. I get my way sometimes and he gets his way all the time!” says Shirley amid much laughter from the staff.
Miller Rank Hovis will take an 80sq m stand at the Baking Industry Exhibition (BIE) on April 6-9 2008 at Birmingham’s NEC.Bakery Conservation Group, the UK representative for retarder prover company Koma, is also among exhibitors.Paul Morrow, president of student body the NFBSS/IBB Alliance has confirmed that BIE will host the 2008 student competition finals. Industry development body Baking Excellence is also supporting BIE.The show will take place alongside the Convenience Retailing Show, Food & Drink and Foodex Meatex, which attracts 70.000 plus visitors to the NEC.
The bakery student population converged on Blackpool on the recent May Day weekend with one thing on its mind. And that was impressing its elders with superlative bakery products – from wired sugarflowers to vegetarian pastries, chocolate wedding cakes and oven-bottom Coburg loaves.The youngsters came from nine bakery colleges around the UK and, between them, entered 694 items into the massive annual bakery competition held at the annual conference of the Alliance for Bakery Students and Trainees (formerly NFBSS/IBB Alliance). Among the entries were 250 in the bread classes, 360 in the confectionery classes and 52 in California Raisins-supported classes. Some 20 entries were received in live competitions, from piping to marzipan modelling and dead dough work. Competition secretary Jane Hatton from Brooklands College oversaw proceedings.As the prizes were awarded, Charles Geary, chair of the bread judges, praised the high standard of entries, particularly a “superb bloomer” from Horton Trophy winner Ian Sutherland. Chair of the confectionery judges Jean Grieves gave students tips for next year as she added her praise. n—-=== Top of their class ===Blackburn CollegeOverall winner, Founders Cup Donna Ainsworth: Warburtons Challenge Trophy for morning goodsIan Sutherland: Horton TrophyKayli Barnes: Mandy Wansell Trophy for 800g loafKezia Sterling: Frank Webster Trophy for an 800g white tin loaf, Victory Challenge Trophy; Overall winner: Victory Challenge TrophyShaminnisa Patel: Masters Award best loaf in showBlackpool CollegeAlex Truelove: Novices’ CupCraig Cartwright: savoury vegetarian pastryJenni Bliszczak: British Bakels classKirsty Hughes: Devon Rose Bowl, Best fruit cake in Victory Challenge TrophyMichelle Holmes: Innovation Trophy for a fermented dough productPamela Ellis: Wrights Trophy for a bread display piece (live)Sharon Ann Humphrey: Live marzipan modelling classAmy Finch: California Raisins Student Innovation Award, Bread/bakeryHilary Johnson: California Raisins Student Innovation Award confectioneryBrooklands College, SurreyChun Young Lee: Live wired sugarflowersDenise Bristow-Burrows: British Sugar class for a novelty cakeDuck-ae Lim: Slattery TrophyIndika Jayasera: Renshaw decorative class celebration cakeToyoyo Yoshizawa: IBB Cup for live pipingVivian Lee: Blandy Cup for a decorated wedding cake and a wedding cake baseVivian Lee: Goldex Cup for a wired sugarflower displayLeeds Thomas DanbyJoanne Hartley: 800g loaf and a buttercream gateauLeicester CollegeSarah Hughes: Gerry Cup for a live cut-outTameside College, ManchesterCalifornia Raisins Future Baker Award
Waitrose has seen a “phenomenal” uplift in sales of its packaged cake lines, following an overhaul of pack design, the addition of new lines and changes to recipes, including a complete switch to free-range eggs.Cakes buyer Sam Witherington said the revamped range, which launched into stores on 19 May, has helped Waitrose’s packaged cakes see almost a 30% uplift across the range.Witherington admitted she was “surprised” by the boost to established product lines from introducing a minimalist layout to the packaging. “Suddenly there’s a 10 – 11% increase in sales, just because the customer can see what they are buying, read about the products and can see why they are spending their money.”The lines are now undergoing a second stage of promotions, which will last until early August, to help encourage customers to buy into the range.
You don’t want to mess with Giuseppe Mascoli’s oven. The Neapolitan pizza owner prides himself on his E9,000 (£7,085), handcrafted specimen. “I had it made by an artisan in Naples,” he says. “Then put on an industrial trolley and shipped over on a container. It’s a very particular oven.”For the trained chef, who now co-owns London-based pizzeria Franco Manca, it’s his oven’s ability to reach 500?C that makes his organic Neapolitan pizzas so special. Blasting the pizzas for less than 90 seconds means they retain the moisture so essential in the pizza’s soft crust. “So you have to know how to use it,” he says.Franco Manca opened in March as what Mascoli calls “an experiment”. It’s housed in London’s vibrant and bustling indoor Brixton market, employing around six staff.Among the yams, pigs’ trotters and okra, his pizzeria has 54 covers across two shops. He commands a roaring trade in both eat-ins and take-aways despite being open only from noon to 5pm, Monday to Saturday.Aficionados travel from far and wide for his ’cheap as chips’ pizzas, which retail from £3.90 to £5.60. They also love the authenticity and focus on provenance that Mascoli is at pains to achieve. For instance, he trained cheese-makers especially at an organic, artisanal farm in Somerset to make its buffalo mozzarella. The pizzeria’s single-estate flour – strong, type 0 or 00 – is imported from a miller in Italy. Mascoli himself admits that they “take no short cuts”.So what, so far, is the secret to his £6,000 weekly turnover and 55% profit margin? “Lots of people buy the product,” he says, pointing to sales of 150 a day in the five hours the pizzeria is open, rising to 250 on Saturdays. “I have an exclusive product, which took years and years of research, so I’ve got to sell a lot of pizza.”Confidence in his product must also help: “I have no competition in the UK,” he says. “Everybody else is completely wrong, from A to Z, from the flour to the fermentation, the type of yeast that they use, the type of oven…”Mascoli says even the good pizzerias can err, which is especially critical if it’s with “the first fundamental” – the flour. “You cannot use industrial flours,” he says. “You can get the consistency right, but you’ll never get the flavour right.”Location, locationMascoli acknowledges that his affable relationship with Brixton Market’s owners is also vital to his success. He describes the owners as ambitious and says they want to introduce a diversity of food products to its offer. “I have a very good deal with the market people, who give me very low rent because they want to revitalise the market,” he says. “After wages, the second largest cost is rent. And you cannot save on the wages.”I need to have very, very high turnover,” he adds. “I can do very well on a low rent, but I couldn’t do the same in Chelsea, for example.”His wood-burning oven is also low on energy use, he says, which helps to keep costs down. “It consumes less and has very good heat retention,” he says.In the evening, he closes the oven doors and the flame dies. Yet in the morning, the oven is still slow-burning at 260?C, in which, once hehas removed the charcoal, he can bake bread. Does that mean that non-specialist outlets such as cafés or bakeries could benefit from such a powerhouse? Not this type, he says, which is for a very specialist product. “It takes lots of skill to use it and most people won’t know how to use it.”Mascoli believes the humidity it emits makes it ideal for only a handful of bread products, but says it’s ideally suited to Neapolitan pizza. “They would have to know how to homogenise the surface temperature or you have hot and cold spots, how to turn the pizza on its side…” he says.What of the future? Having just launched, the entrepreneur is waiting to see how the venture does before any expansion. He also owns a private members’ club in London’s Soho, as well as being the proprietor of a cultural magazine. But his mighty oven promises to fuel his pizza business a little longer yet.—-=== How to make Neapolitan pizza in… say… Newport (good luck!) ===The Association of Real Neapolitan Pizza (Verace Pizza Napoletana Association) was founded in 1984 to increase the value of the pizzas produced by old Neapolitan methods, against the backdrop of what it perceived as a watering-down of the product, due to the spread of fast-food chains. In 2004, Italy’s authorities enshrined the rules in guidelines on how to make Neapolitan pizza. Then, on 14 February this year, the association succeeded in getting the European Union to publish the requisites for ’real Neapolitan pizza’ in the EU’s Official Gazette – meaning it should pass into law as an STG or Guaranteed Traditional Speciality when the six-month objection period expires this month. After that, pizzas in all European countries will have to follow the rules if they want to call products ’Neapolitan pizza’.l Real Neapolitan pizza must be round – no more than 14″ (35cm) in diameter, no thicker than 0.1″ in the middle, with a crust about 0.8″ thickl The texture must be soft, elastic and easily foldablel Only three types are allowed: Marinara, with garlic and oregano; Margherita, with basil and mozzarella cheese from the southern Apennines; and extra-Margherita, with fresh tomatoes, basil and buffalo mozzarella from Campanial Dough should be allowed to rise for at least six hours and rolled out manuallyl Pizza must be cooked in a wood-fired oven that can reach the required temperature of 485?C.—-=== 10 Steps to a ’Better for You’ Pizza ===Thin-crust Neapolitan pizza is now being offered in some quarters as a ’healthy option’. Who’d have thought it? A simple tomato sauce, delicately flavoured with herbs and garlic, makes a low-fat topping along with roasted vegetables, meat or fish, writes Chris Dickinson, NPD director of pizza base supplier La Pizza. Much has been written about the benefits of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant abundant in red tomatoes, processed tomato products and other red fruits.== 1 ==Use a brown base for increased fibre== 2 ==Keep sugar content to a minimum by using sauces containing no more than 1%== 3 ==Keep oil and fat to a minimum; use sauces with little or none in the recipe== 4 ==When oil is used, make sure it is olive oil. For additional flavour, use extra virgin olive oil. If you don’t want the olive flavour, use ’extra light’ olive oil== 5 ==Choose a thin-crust pizza. For dough portions, use a 7oz dough ball for a 10″ pizza, 10oz for a 12″ pizza, 14oz for a 14″ pizza and 18oz for a 16″ pizza. Of course, these are just guidelines – it is possible to have a slightly thicker crust and still have a healthy pizza but, generally speaking, the thinner the better== 6 ==Use only the best tomato sauce for great flavour – you will use less!== 7 ==Use a 50:50 blend of no or low-fat mozzarella and regular mozzarella== 8 ==Don’t overdo the cheese. Use no more than 6oz for a 10″ pizza, 8oz for a 12″ pizza, 11oz for a 14″ pizza and 14oz for a 16″ pizza== 9 ==For meat toppings, use only lean meats such as lean ham, chicken and lean ground beef. Pepperoni and salami are favourites, so if you do use them, use thinly sliced and put on only a light or moderate amount== 10 ==For vegetarian toppings, include as much or as little of the typical non-starchy pizza vegetables as the customer requests; tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, and green peppers all qualify.
Marks & Spencer has won a 13-year tax battle over the status of its chocolate-covered teacakes, although there is still confusion around the legal ruling.The Law Lords upheld a decision made by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) last year, which ordered the Treasury to refund £3.5m VAT on the teacakes, taken between 1973 and 1994. Under UK tax rules, most traditional bakery products, such as bread, cakes and flapjacks, are free of VAT.But Damian Shirley, tax director at legal firm Eversheds, said that although the issue of classifying teacakes had been resolved, it still left open the complex issue of ’unjust enrichment’, where one party is unjustly enriched at the expense of another – for example, if a baker had incorrectly accounted for VAT on the sale of freshly baked warm pasties, or where VAT had been incorrectly accounted for in full on the supply of ’meal deals’.
Canada-based Maple Leaf Foods has announced the appointment of Peter Baker as the new head of its UK operations, Maple Leaf Bakery UK. He will take over the role of MD, effective 6 April, after Maple Leaf’s parent firm Canada Bread announced the departure of former MD Peter Maycock last month.Baker, based at the company’s Park Royal office in London, has over 30 years’ experience in baking, including chief executive of La Fornaia from 2003-2007, a company bought by Maple Leaf in late 2007. Prior to that, he was MD of British Bakeries.
Oh, woe betide thee who dabbles in the dark arts and invokes a sleeping demon. In a clear act of evil-doing, The Guardian’s website provocatively reopened the whole Jaffa Cake debate on its forums. “It turns out that what the readers of Comment is Free really want to debate is not the European elections or the global economic crisis, but baked goods, specifically the infamous question:’Is a Jaffa Cake a biscuit or a cake?’” it wrote. Stop the Week thought this thorny question had been put to rest when the law courts ruled their inherent cakiness. How wrong could we be? Here is just a sample of the reponses, which ran to an alarming seven pages. Serves The Guardian right.l necroflange: This is like one of those arguments in biology, which is usually solved by inventing a new phylum. I therefore suggest that a new term is coined, that will also incorporate mini-rolls, fig rolls, penguin biscuits, and other biscuity items that one cannot comfortably refer to as a biscuit.l Dormsville: It’s a cake that’s a biscuit. Hope that clears that up.l MrPikeBishop: My grandfather didn’t stop a bullet in Normandy so that you people could call this a cake – it’s a biscuit. You all ought to be ashamed of yourselves.l Mitsurugi: It’s easy. A cake goes hard when it’s stale. A biscuit goes soft.l Ladyribenaberet: I propose that, like the Platypus, the Jaffa (insert name here) should have its own classification. It’s a new, unique entity. Henceforth, they shall be called Biscakes.l PhilippaB: It’s easiest to think of it as a sort of fourth dimension, that occasionally connects with the real world, but is mostly off in the ether and inconceivable to anybody but highly-paid specialists. Kind of like the string theory, but pettier.l EllsBells: I really started worrying about this then, and had to snap myself out of it.
The Bakers’ Benevolent Society (BBS) is holding a family open day, following the success of its 150th anniversary open day last year.The event will be held on Sunday 5 July at Bakers’ Villas in Epping, Essex. BBS president Moira Rank will attend, as will members of the Worshipful Company of Bakers and industry trade associations.The gates will open at 1pm and the theme this year is ’jazz’. A New Orleans jazz band has been booked for the afternoon, which will also feature a hog roast and barbecue.BBS will also use the opportunity to show supporters how it has spent its donations, as well as the work that has been carried out at Bakers’ Villas.