Interest in handcrafted, artisan baking remains very strong despite current diet trends that limit gluten and carbohydrates. Bakeries and restaurants can take advantage of this “artisan-baking renaissance” by reinvigorating traditional ingredients. Taking an artisan approach allows bakers to work in smaller batches and experiment with more techniques and varied fermentation times.
Here are six ideas for adding artisan appeal to any bread baking program:
- Enrobing: Dough enrobing is part of a bigger movement of bakers experimenting with ancient grains, heritage wheats and other value-added ingredients. To increase value and appeal, look beyond the usual sesame and poppy seeds for unique and varied enrobing ingredients, such as barley flakes or cracked farro. Up your game and consider how custom grain blends will enhance the visual appeal of loaves or other baked goods. Now, more than ever, bakers have a broad range of wheats and grains to experiment with. Work with different particle sizes of whole, cracked or flaked grains.
- Inclusions: Custom grain blends can greatly enhance the flavour and appearance of bread. For a slightly sweeter flavour profile, try including sorghum, barley and White Sonora. Amaranth has some peppery notes that pair well with dried herbs for a savoury result. At Ardent Mills, we encourage bakers to experiment with different grains and grain combinations for the desired flavour profile. Bakers can streamline the inclusion process by using tried and trusted bread formulations and adding a few high-impact ingredients. Inclusions are a great way to differentiate a baker’s artisanship.
- Fermentation Times: Artisan baking brings renewed interest to longer fermentation times — even overnight ferments — and slow proofing. The added time helps to develop the flavour in the crumb and shows more time and attention has gone into the baking process. Sourdough breads are right on trend, with consumers seeking out fermented foods.
- Pre-baking Techniques: Focusing on pre-baking processes, like lightly toasting grains for a slightly different — almost nutty — flavour profile, brings a nuance to bread flavours. Bakers can also experiment with soaking the toasted grains to rehydrate them. Bakers can even use the soaking liquid in the dough to retain more of the grain flavour. Consumers will appreciate how these extra steps and time show true artisanship and add value and quality to finished products.
- Heirloom and Heritage Wheats: Replacing some or all the traditional white flour in a recipe with a heritage wheat, such as red fife, rye or spelt, brings unique flavours and textures to the finished loaf. Older wheat varieties often have less gluten strength, which requires bakers to make slight adaptions to the blending, fermenting and baking processes. However, this type of experimentation is what makes artisan baking so rewarding.
- Ancient Grains: Each ancient grain brings a different texture, granular size, flavour and colour to baked products, from boules to biscuits and rustic loaves to sandwich bread. As more consumers seek cleaner, simpler foods, ancient grains offer a great story to tell about their rich history, locality and global culinary traditions that reassure consumers of their purity. Additionally, many varieties are naturally gluten free, so experimenting with them can teach customers that gluten free bread does not have to mean grain free. Bakers can use sorghum, amaranth, teff, buckwheat and quinoa to create rustic, gluten-free flatbreads and loaves. Ancient grains in newer formats — such as flakes or toasted flakes — create possibilities in baked goods, transforming grains into something with great eye appeal, varied textures and subtle flavour enhancements.
Author: Elaine O’Doherty
Ardent Mills is committed to being the leader in exploring what’s next in whole grains, ancient grains, heirloom wheats, custom multigrain blends and traditional and organic flour.
For more information, contact me: Elaine O’Doherty, Marketing Manager at Ardent Mills Canada: Elaine.ODoherty@ardentmills.com