What is baking quality?
Baking quality is having the ability to objectively quantify the physical parameters of a product using consistent terminology. It is usually subjectively defined, and varies from one baker to another.
Within bread, there exists a wide range of variety and each variety has a loosely defined size/shape/crumb structure and crust appearance. Untrained evaluators are subjective to what the perfect product should be. This is clearly seen when we compare one bakers assessment to another bakers, and there appear to be differences in their opinions. Bias can be removed with objective quantification.
Why is it important?
Baking quality is critical to high speed operations because a slight change in a physical parameter could cause a large increase in waste levels and a reduction in efficiency. Improving quality means the ability to identify these physical parameters, and producing products that consistently meet these quality standards, thus increasing efficiency.
How do you objectively quantify baking quality?
There are three main ways of doing this:
Create manual templates for the operators to use. Height, weight, volume, color and outlines are usually presented on such templates. This is the most economical and commonly used method of quantification. The downside is that it requires a statistical study and the implementation of the techniques requires in-depth training. In addition, when the production line is short of operators, these standards are usually forgotten.
Train a sensory panel.1 This is the best way to quantify baking quality because the panel can be trained to taste objectively. However, not only are panelists difficult to obtain. Training and maintaining a panel is expensive, and they are usually not available for on-demand quality checks.
Use instrumental methods. Although these tools require a little more capitalization upfront, it takes very little to maintain or calibrate them. Their results are fast and requires very little effort on the operator’s part. In addition, with advanced software, very little training is needed and there are minimal operating errors.
- Color meters will measure internal crumb and external crust color
- Texture analyzers2 will measure firmness, springiness, compression and quantify shelf life firmness.
- Loaf volume by laser scanning will measure total volume.
- Image analysis3 can measure size and shape of the loaf volume, side wall collapse/oven spring, number of cells, average cell diameter, average wall thickness, average cell elongation, side wall concavity and crust/crumb color.
- Callejo, María Jesús. “Present situation on the descriptive sensory analysis of bread.” Journal of Sensory Studies 26.4 (2011).
- Esteller, Mauricio Sergio, Renata Lira Amaral, and Suzana Caetano Da Silva Lannes.” Effect of sugar and fat replacers on the texture of baked goods.” Journal of Texture Studies 35.4 (2004).
- Pérez-Nieto, A., J.J. Chanona-Pérez, R.R. Farrera-Rebollo, G.F. Gutiérrez-López, L. Alamilla-Beltrán, and G. Calderón-Domínguez. “Image analysis of structural changes in dough during baking.” LWT – Food Science and Technology 43.3 (2010): 535-543.