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Raw Material

Wheat:

wheat

Wheat flour is the ingredient that, more than any other, influences the processing response of most doughs and batters and determines the finished quality of most bakery products.
Among the reasons for the strong influence of flour are:
(1) Unique proteins in wheat give most bakery products a characteristic highly expanded structure; and

(2) Wheat flour is generally present in a larger proportion than any other ingredient. It follows that bakery must be certain the flours they are using have predictable and uniform properties appropriate to the products being made.

Many bakers do not have adequate facilities for testing their flour and also have limited sources of supply. They must often procure flour in bags from local distributors who sell a few types obtained from mills having many other customers. Each type will be identified by a different brand name. This situation forces the baker to depend heavily upon the reliability of the miller. For satisfactory results, the flour must be uniform from bag to bag from shipment to shipment. Uniformity is nearly always preferable to a so-called “improvement” that makes the ingredient less compatible with the baker’s processing system.

Virtually all millers, large and small will attempt to maintain uniformity flour sold under a specific brand name or produced to meet a published set of specifications. Millers are, however, subject to certain constraints in producing uniform products. Chief among these limitations is an unavoidable variability in their raw material, wheat. Grain, even wheat of a given variety grown in a specific area, will show differences in composition from year to year, and this variability in raw material cannot always be compensated for by adjustments in milling conditions.

The bakery must, therefore, have a dependable supplier, preferably one that will furnish technical assistance when problems arise. The miller must be selected with care and the buyer must insist on receiving rapid and complete input on expected changes in flour quality. Often defects in the flour will not become apparent until items made with it come out of the oven –or even later. These situations can be disastrous, since substandard products can alienate customers or even be totally unsalable at any price to any type of customers or even be totally unsalable at any price to any type of customer. By the time the defect is identified and corrective action taken, the losses may be sufficient to put the baker out of business or, at least, set back growth for many months. Price is important and must be considered, of course, but no bargain can compensate for the harm that results from delivery of inconsistent or defective ingredients.

 

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