To enhance the flavors of artisan breads, bakers can add a variety of flavor systems that supply authentic artisan taste without the use of a natural sour starter.
On the mezzanine of Ecce Panis' plant in East Brunswick, N.J., four jacketed tanks hold the company's 14-year-old sour. The tanks have heating and refrigeration controls, which give the company command of the development of its sours. In Minneapolis, French Meadow Bakery uses a sour starter that dates back to the early 1980s. The company manually mixes this starter with stone ground flour and allows it to rest overnight in a temperature-controlled environment.
Both of these companies go to great lengths, albeit through different methods, to enhance the flavor of their bread products. However, these two bakeries represent unique situations that cannot be applied to most automated facilities. Today's space, time and cost restraints cause bakeries to look for alternative solutions to create flavorful breads without devoting significant amounts of time for the creation and maintenance of natural sours.
Mixes, bases, concentrates and ingredient blends have paved the way for bread bakers to supply an authentic artisan taste without timely sour-making processes. These artisan bread flavor systems come in many forms and countless flavors. For example, one manufacturer of artisan bread flavoring systems produces eight different sour flavors. These sour bases range from saltfree sours to white sours to French bread sours to traditional San Francisco sours. The same company also suppliessix different types of rye flavors.
The wide assortment of flavors creates unlimited options for high-volume bakeries looking to break into the upscale bread category without investing money in a manual or automated sourdough system. Besides sourdoughs and rye, bakers also can purchase mixes, bases and concentrates that assist in creating ciabatta and French, Italian, multi-grain and potato breads. One company even manufactures a flavor system that creates a vegetable bread that contains tomato, carrot, pepper and onion flavors. The flavor system is added to a company's existing dough at levels ranging from 20% to 30%.
Ease of use represents another benefit of prepared flavor systems. Generally, bakers can define a flavor and delivery option, including free-flowing powdered material or liquid.
Besides flavoring traditional artisan breads, prepared flavor systems also help bakers satiate consumer demands for multigrain and whole grain breads. By using a prepared grain blend, bakers can reduce their grain suppliers and lessen their ingredient inventory. One company's grain bread base contains whole wheat flour, rye meal, rye flour, sesame seed, oat meal, corn meal, barley and millet. To incorporate this grain base into a formula, bakers need to add yeast and water.