Bread manufacturing app
Increase profit & reduce fresh produce waste today!FREE TRIAL
Step 0: The Ingredients
For every bread, or every food that is, you always start with: the ingredients. For making the simplest of breads (not taking into account flatbreads, only yeast risen breads), you only need:
- Flour (most common is wheat flour): there are a lot of different flours, if using wheat flour, choose a bread flour or all purpose flour (not cake flour) or a whole wheat flour, there are a lot of choices (bread flour, and browse through to see all the other types!)
The flour will form the basic structure of the bread. The gluten in flour help a yeast risen bread to become nice and airy and hold onto air inside the dough. The water will bring those gluten molecules together and it will ensure the bread becomes soft. Last but not least, the yeast will contribute to the flavour and it will form gas which will create the desired air bubbles in bread. It does this through fermentation. For more details on the role of ingredients, have a look at our separate post on the topic.
Step 1: Mixing
Now that we’ve got our ingredients, it’s time to mix them! Even though mixing sounds simple (and of course, at the core it is!) it’s a very important step. When making bread it greatly helps to mix the dry ingredients first (without any filling though such as raisins, etc.) before adding the wet ingredients (such as water, butter, milk). Mixing doesn’t cost any effort/energy as long as there are no wet ingredients. So not adding the wet while you’re still mixing the dry saves effort.
Mixing assures all ingredients are spread out oer the bread evenly. It assures yeast is spread out through the entire dough and thus makes it evenly fluffy. Also, it ensures the salt is mixed through evenly. Since too much salt will prevent growth of yeast, it prevents (local) inhibition of yeast growth.
Even mixing should be done with care. Yeast can be killed if the moisture added is too hot. Take warm water, but only as warm as you can touch and drink. Boiling water or any water well above 40°C will kill the yeast.
Step 2: Resting & hydrating
This step is not fully necessary, but when mixing by hand or using a lot of whole wheat flour this can definitely help. This phase consists of leaving the dough mix just like that for about 30 minutes.
During this resting period the flour hydrates, more specifically the starch and gluten of the flour are hydrated by water. Water seeps into the grains and will sit around the molecules. If a flour has more fibers and grainy parts (as is the case for coarse whole meal flour for instance), it takes longer for water to travel through. Often a dough is a lot softer and more flexible after resting. It tends to make it easier to knead in the next step.
Step 3: Kneading
There are a lot of recipes out there for breads that don’t require any kneading (what about using a LoafNest?). And it’s true, good breads can be made without any real kneading, although they do tend to require more time and patience. Kneading helps the formation of a light and airy bread. Its main role here is gluten development, gluten are proteins in flour. Kneading stretches the gluten and connects the various gluten molecules with one another. This creates a gluten network
Kneading also introduces air into the dough. These air bubbles are essential for creating an airy bread. Even though yeast will produce gas during rising, it has been found that no new air bubbles are necessarily formed during rising. Instead, existing air bubbles tend to grow. Therefore, creating these air pockets during kneading is vital. It’s these air pockets that allow bread to become fluffy.
Kneading by hand
Kneading by hand requires practice and patience. There are several techniques for doing so, repeatedly smashing the dough on the counter, pulling it apart and many more (watch Great British Bake Off bread baking episodes for great examples. However, personally, I’ve never become good enough at this, resulting in dense breads. A good electric mixer really makes your life a lot easier, saving you time and improving your bread (if your kneading skills aren’t up to scratch just yet).
The type of mixer suited for your needs mostly depends on the quantities of bread you make. If you’re a home baker with max. 1-2 breads per baking session, I would recommend a regular Kitchenaid stand mixer (it’s what I have) with the dough hook. I wouldn’t recommend buying the mini version, some bread doughs can be pretty tough to knead for the regular mixer already, I don’t think the mini will make it.
One size larger would be the professional version of the Kitchenaid mixer. It isn’t that much larger, but does also have a bit more power. For even larger sizes, we don’t have any personal experience anymore. A common brand of commercial mixers are Hobart mixers, when visiting the Boudin sourdough bakery in San Francisco we saw they used Kemper kneaders. When considering these sizes and up plugs might not work in regular electricity plugs anymore.
Step 4: First proofing / Bulk fermentation
Once a dough has been made it is ready for its first rise, also called bulk or first fermentation. As mentioned in the kneading stage: in order to make a fluffy bread air pockets have to be made. These are grown through fermentation of the yeast. Yeast consume sugars (glucose) and converts this into energy. While doing this carbon dioxide (CO2) is formed. This is a gas and causes the dough to expand.
Yeast have an optimal growth temperature. In other words, they don’t grow (or very slow) at temperatures below this growth temperature or above this growth temperature. If the temperature is too high it may even be killed. In the fridge yeast still produce gas, but it’s at a lower rate than at room temperature. Nevertheless, these lower temperatures also cause other reactions to occur which develop a lot of flavours!
Apart from controlling temperature, humidity also plays an important role at this point. You do not want the dough to dry out. You can prevent this by properly covering the bowl in which the dough is rising. Take care though that the dough doesn’t touch the cover (keeping in mind that it will still grow), to prevent sticking. In most cases you can do this first proofing period in your mixing bowl which protects the dough against drying out on the sides and makes it easy to cover. A great way to cover your bowls is to use a shower cap, it’s waterproof and puff up so the dough will be able to grow without it touching the cap!
Some may use a proofing drawer or an oven that can go to low temperatures. This can help speed up a recipe, but in some cases it can also result in a lower quality bread.
Step 5: Shaping
Once the first fermentation is finished the dough has to be taken from the bowl you’re proven it in and split into the required dough sizes. Using a dough scraper (use the plastic one to take dough from a bowl and use the metal one to cut the dough into pieces) here will make your life a lot easier, I say so from personal experience, it will help to prevent your fingers being all doughy even before you started shaping.
It is now time to shape the bread and this was probably one of the steps that is highly influential of the final look of the bread, but is pretty hard to get right without some proper practice. Shaping the bread after the first rising process helps to create a better structure of the bread.
Before shaping the bread the freshly risen bread should be pressed down again and air bubbles should be removed. This will give the bread another chance to rise again since the yeast is fed again with sugars in the dough. Also, it prevents too large bubbles from forming.
After the air has been pushed out you shape your bread. Of course, during shaping you determine the final type of bread you’re making, whether it’s long, round or square. But a good ‘shaper’ shapes the bread in such a way that a tension is created on the outside of the bread. This will make a more even bread when baked.
Here’s a nice short video giving just one way to shape your bread, there are a lot of different techniques that can be used.
Apart from your hands, flour and a working surface shaping a dough doesn’t require a lot of other tools. Larger scale production units will have equipment that shapes the bread using a smart system of rollers and folders, we’ve seen some of these at the Boudin Bakery in San Francisco.
Step 6: Rising no. 2 / Second fermentation
Now the bread is ready to rise again, however, since it has been shaped quite carefully, it is important that it is risen in such a way that it can rise and be moved without ruining the shape. You don’t want bread sticking to anything that won’t enter the oven with the bread.
The simplest way to rise the bread is on the baking tray you’ll be using to bake it on. However, not all bread will keep their shape on the tray. Another option is to proof the bread in the baking pan, but this does tend to increase the risk of the dough sticking to the pan after baking, nor does it allow you to pre-heat to the baking tray. This is why a lot of bakers use bread baskets which have been floured quite heavily to proof the dough. The flouring prevents the dough from sticking, allowing you to transfer it once it’s been proven for long enough.
Again, take care to cover up the dough during proofing so it won’t dry out and become less flexible.
If you’re making more complex breads (think baguettes), you might need more advanced ways of proving the dough. Baguette dough is shaped into a baguette, but it won’t be firm enough to hold its shape. It is very prone to relaxing back down, instead of rising up. This is why baguette dough will support each other, to keep their shape. You can do this using a regular heavily floured tea towel. However, there are also various tools available to make your life easier (e.g. a couche for the baguettes).
Step 7: Scoring
This is also a step which is easily overlooked! Scoring is nothing more than making a nice pattern on top of your bread. You have to do this right before baking. Besides the fact that it gives your bread a personal touch or makes it easier to differentiate different bread types, it also has an actual function during baking. Because of the shaping of the bread, you’ve given the bread strength. But, when the bread is put into the oven, you want it to be able to rise and expand. By scoring the bread, it has more space to open up!
You can do scoring with anything sharp, but not always to regular little knives give the look you’re looking for. That’s why there exist special scoring knives for doing this.
Step 8: Baking
Baking is where your bread becomes a bread. During baking a lot of things happen. First of all, the yeast gets one last growth spike. Just before it dies because of the high heat it will greatly increase in speed thanks to the nice warm temperature. This causes the loaf to expand (especially if you’ve scored it nicely). Second, the bread actually cooks. Moisture evaporates, gluten networks are fixed and starch cooks (gelatinizes). Moreover, the Maillard reaction occurs, causing your bread to turn a nice golden brown.
The temperature of your oven influences how your bread turns out. A higher heat will give a darker crust more quickly. But, if the bread is very large, the outside may be nearly black whereas the inside is not yet cooked. Higher heats give thinner and softer crusts whereas lower heats give thicker crusts. The lower heat makes you having to bake your bread longer, so more moisture evaporates. This moisture evaporation is essential to make a crispy crust.
It does matter on or in what you bake the bread. A baking pan helps a softer, more flexible dough to hold its shape during baking. We use both cast iron baking pans as well as simpler aluminium baking pans. Both work well for baking bread.
If you’re baking bread on a tray, whether it’s one or a few breads, you might want to use a silicone mat to bake the breads on (work great on this baking sheet). This makes cleaning so much easier.
Last but not least, you can also bake on a baking stone. This should give you a crispier crust. Personally, I haven’t used the method often. Instead of a separate baking stone, a conventional cast iron plate will also work!
Step 9: Cooling & Eating
Nothing much to say her! The most essential part of the bread making process. Take the bread out of the oven. Let it cool (slicing hot bread is recipe for disaster, it will fall apart so easily) and enjoy!
Bread, the production process (yeast dough, Dutch bread)
Weighing and mixing
The production of bread begins with mixing of the ingredients. For this purpose, 32-45% wheat flour, 50-64% water, 2% yeast, 2% salt and optionally fat, emulsifiers and sugar are combined. Meal consist of ground grains and flour is meal without brans. The ratio meal/flower determines whether the bread will be white or brown. Wholegrain bread is made with only meal and white bread only consists of flour. Multigrain mixes can also be used in the process of making bread. Because flour tends to absorb more water than meal, when the quantity of flour is high, more water has to be added to the mix. It is important that during the mixing process the yeast does not come in direct contact with the salt, this could deactivate the yeast. It is best to add salt last, after the yeast and the other ingredients have been mixed properly.
The so-called ‘wet method’ can also be utilized. According to this method half of the of flour is added to the total amount of water and yeast. This is mixed to a smooth blend, and left 3 to 4 hours to ferment (yeasting) and finally mixed with the remaining half of the flour. This enables a more complete fermentation and result in a lighter and airier dough.
Nowadays, preservatives and additives can be added to improve shelf life, texture and flavor of the bread.
After mixing the ingredients, the dough is kneaded. By kneading the dough the network of gluten is formed and air bubbles are created, where the carbon dioxide (CO2), formed by fermentation, can accumulate. Because the ingredients absorb a lot of moisture the dough becomes elastic. After kneading for a longer period of time a gluten network is formed and the dough will become less elastic and tough. The dough will be extendible and will get a silky appearance. When the dough is kneaded for too long, it will become sticky and fall apart. The structure of the dough has to be strong enough so a wafer-thin film can be formed. During the kneading process the temperature of the dough rises to 27°C.
Proofing is the process of leaving the dough in the machine for 30 to 50 minutes at a steady temperature of 27°C. Because of this the yeast cells are given time to multiply, produce CO2 and alcohol. This results in an increased size of the dough and the gluten network becoming more elastic again. The proofing process ends when the size of the dough is approximately doubled.
After the first proofing, the dough is divided into pieces of about 900 grams each. The pieces of dough are folded in the folding machine and placed in nets in the proofer. Folding ensures that all pieces of dough have the same shape and the gas bubbles are evenly distributed. This will smoothen the surface of the dough and reduce its stickiness. The rising of the dough will take about 30 minutes, at a humidity of 85% and a temperature of 34°C. During this process the dough can rest and this will make it easier to (pre) shape later.
After the folding, the dough is shaped for use in a baking tin. The forming of the dough into a long roll is called shaping. During the shaping process the dough ball is rolled into a slab. This slab is then rolled back up to fit into the backing tin.
During the preparation of the dough large gas bubbles are divided in several smaller gas bubbles. The ensures a more evenly divided gas structure in the final bread. When placing the dough into the baking tin, the folded dough must be placed with its seam down, otherwise the dough can unfold during the third proofing or during baking.
The optional decorating of the bread (with sesame or poppy seeds, or by cutting) is done now.
The third proofing takes place in the baking tin. This final proof takes 60 minutes at a humidity of 85% and a temperature of 34°C. A temperature of 34°C creates an ideal environment for mesophilic micro-organisms to grow. It is therefore of great importance that the bread is produced in a clean and hygienic place.
After the final proofing the dough has risen sufficiently and is ready to be baked. Baking the bread takes up 30 to 40 minutes at a temperature of 200 to 260°C. At the start of the baking process steam is injected into the oven. The condensed steam ensures that the dough does not immediately form a tough outer layer that may tear. During the first 10 minutes of baking the yeast is still active, this is called the oven rising. However, these yeast cells will die off as soon as the oven temperature rises to about 60ºC. The thermal expansion of the CO2 from the yeast and the increase of the water vapour pressure also contribute to the rising of the dough. The condensed steam makes the colour of the crust look better.
At a temperature of 60ºC the starches begin to gelatinize, while absorbing water. The water makes the starches swell. The water that is being absorbed by the starches is released by the gluten, which causes them to bind. A gas permeable gluten network is created, allowing the CO2 to escape without changing the structure of the bread. The alcohol that was produced during this process evaporates at 67ºC.
During the baking process the outside of the bread dries sooner than the inside (also referred to as crumb). As long as the crumb contains water the temperature inside the bread can never exceed 100ºC, while the temperature of the bread’s surface, the crust, can reach temperatures up to 150-170ºC.
Due to the high temperatures that the crust is exposed to, the proteins and sugars present in the bread may chemically react with each other, a so-called ‘Maillard’ reaction. Maillard reactions are very desirable when baking bread; it gives the bread the brown colour and provides a specific smell. The browning can also occur when the starch-dextrins combust.
After baking, the loaves of bread are lightly sprayed with water, which makes, along with the pyrodextrins (incineration residue) the crust of the bread shine.
Cooling and packaging
The bread needs to cool down before it is cut and packed. Packing it before the bread is cooled down will lead to condensation in the bag.
Production process bake-off bread
The production process of bake-off bread is similar to that of regular bread. However, the baking time of bake-off bread is shorter, ensuring that the bread is not fully baked and no brown coloration has occurred yet. The outside crust of the bread is lightly baked, this way the bread becomes slightly more firm and retains its shape.
Usually, pre-baked breads are frozen giving them an extended shelf life and making them easier to distribute. The frozen pre-baked loaves can be placed directly into the oven to continue the baking process. The final baking takes place together with the browning of the bread.
Modified Air Packaging (MAP)
Pre-baked bread can be pre-packaged in plastic wrapping, in which the oxygen is mixed with 20-30% CO2, so that mold cannot grow. This type of vacuum packaging, in which oxygen is partially replaced by CO2, is less suitable for bake-off bread.
The quality of back-off bread is good, but slightly less than that of freshly baked bread. Because of the disrupted baking process and freezing, the bread suffers a slight quality decrease. When freezing it is very important that the bread is frozen rapidly. In this way the formed ice crystals remain small. When the bread is frozen slowly, the large ice crystals which are formed are damaging to the structure of the bread. This will result in soggy bread. Baking a frozen bread will minimize this effect, because most moisture will evaporate during the baking process.
Food Safety & Hygienic Design
The fermentation process provides, in terms of temperature and relative humidity, the ideal conditions for the growth of undesired micro-organisms. If the yeast develops quicker it slows the development of unwanted micro-organisms down.
Whenever water is used during the fermentation process, the equipment and machines must be designed hygienically, so that they are cleanable to a microbial level. Other parts of the production process are allowed to be of a GMP-class, meaning that the machinery and equipment must be visibly clean before use. In case that the machinery cannot be emptied fully (and set aside clean and dry), the machinery has to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before the production process can start. A light microbial contamination should not be a problem if the dough is directly fully baked.
During the baking process the air in the bakeries can become really humid. It is important that this moisture is removed as quickly as possible, to make sure that the moisture does not condense anywhere – especially not inside the air ventilation system. Condensation is often the cause of fungal growth. The 5 micrometers small mold spores can easily float freely through the air and infect the bake-off bread. This contamination will become visible after some time as circular gray or colored spots on the bread. Baking the bread will kill the fungus, but the consumer will still ingest the toxins that are left behind.
Also known as bread manufacture process
What is Bread Processing?
Traditionally, the term “bread processing” was used by high-speed bakers to assess the contribution of moulding or makeup stages of dough to the manufacture of bread.
Today, it’s a broader term describing the overall manufacturing process of breads and buns. It consists of a series of steps including mixing, fermentation, makeup, proofing, baking, cooling, slicing and packaging. Due to their critical role, these processes must be carefully operated to meet pre-set conditions and specifications.1
How does it work?
The following block diagram shows the production steps in bread processing using different dough systems.
The style and type of bread dictates the dough system to use as well as the processing conditions during mixing, makeup and baking. A baker would not like to produce ciabatta with a close crumb structure, or to produce a loaf of white pan bread with an open crumb structure and texture like a ciabatta.
All steps in bread processing are important for a successful operation, but most bakers would agree that the three truly vital process steps are mixing, fermentation and baking. They are commonly described as the heart and cornerstone of breadmaking operation and can also determine the finished product characteristics, both internally and externally.
The objective is the blending and hydration of dry ingredients, air incorporation and gluten development for optimum dough handling properties. Variables to monitor and control include mixing time, energy input, dough temperature:
- Mixing time: a function of flour strength, its protein, damaged starch and non-starch polysaccharides and bran particles content. Other factors include mixer speed, mixing arm design, dough size in relation to mixer capacity, adequacy of refrigeration system (dough temperature) and delayed sugar/fat/salt addition.
- Mixing equipment: vertical (planetary), spiral (open and closed for vacuum mixing), horizontal, continuous (open and closed).
- Process specifications: 9–15 minutes at high speed in horizontal mixers. Final dough temperature should be 76–82°F (25–28°C).2
The objective is yeast growth, production of CO2, ethanol and organic acids, development of flavors and aromas, and modification of dough handling properties. Variables to monitor and control include fermentation time, temperature, titratable acidity (TTA), pH, microbial count:
- Fermentation time: controlled by the temperature of dough, sponge, starter or pre-ferment, hydration level (free water), pH, osmotic pressure, yeast food (amino acids, minerals, fermentable sugars) and yeast level (or lactic acid bacteria count).
- Fermentation equipment: troughs in fermentation room, closed tanks, open tanks, benches.
- Process specifications: 1–20 hours (at room conditions), depending on dough system used. The temperature in fermentation rooms is typically set between 75–85°F (24–29°C) with a relative humidity (RH) of 60–80%.2
Makeup stage mainly encompasses four operations:
- Intermediate proofing
- Sheeting and moulding
The divider cuts bulk dough into single pieces of proper weight (with as little stress exerted on dough as possible) so that these can be rounded and rested prior to taking their final shape. The divider must process the entire dough load quickly to prevent excessive gassing that creates scaling errors.
The sheeter and moulder encompass the sheeting stage, curling chain, pressure board, and guide bars. These influence the gas bubble structure, shape and length of the dough piece to place in the pan.The moulder should be adjusted to achieve the desired shape with a minimum amount of pressure and stress on the dough to avoid damaging cell structure obtained during mixing and fermentation.
The objective is to convert raw dough into bread, set structure of product, crust and crumb formation, kill-step and shelf-life extension. Variables to monitor and control include temperature, time (governed in continuous ovens by conveying speed). Other relevant variables include heat flux (burners), humidity (dampers) and air velocity or flow.
- Baking time: controlled by oven temperature, conveying speed, initial (proofed dough) and final product temperature, heating pattern, bake loss, product load and formulation.
- Baking equipment: direct-fired oven, indirect-fired oven, electric oven, rack oven, reel oven, conveyorized, tunnel, hybrid and impingement oven.
- Process specifications: 10–20 minutes at 400–420°F (204–216°C) (heating pattern in different ovens must be equivalent for comparable results).2