Night work is taxing – both physically and to the bakery’s profitability. The solution to this problem for Tromsø Bakeri was in long-rise products.
While you enjoy the enticing scent and delightful taste of freshly-baked bread for breakfast, the bakers have already been at work for hours.
In order for the fresh bread to go through the kneading, rising and baking process before breakfast, the process must be started in the middle of the night. This is both exhausting for the bakers and expensive for the bakery. And yet nobody wants to offer their customers day-old bread.
So what should the bakers do?
The people behind Tromsø Bakeri has been working intensively with Nofima baker André Løvaas to find the answer to this question.
Daytime work for everyone
After a thorough process with endless rounds of trial and error and constant adjustments, a solution is now finally taking shape.
“We scrutinize the recipes to find those that are best for allowing a long-rise process overnight. We have been through several rounds of trial and error for almost a week now, and are finally seeing some good results. We have managed to solve the challenges of the process and are now up and running with the production of long-rise loaves”, says satisfied Chief Baker Torbjørn Kristiansen.
In short: The bread dough is prepared the day before and will rise overnight, before the loaves are baked the next morning – without having all the bakers work through the night.
“Working nights is exhausting – and it’s twice as expensive to have people working nights compared to daytime work. Now, only one person will be working nights, and in time we will make it possible for everyone to only be working during the day. That’s our goal”, says Torbjørn Kristiansen.
The Fram project
Tromsø Bakeri is part of Innovation Norway’s Fram project, where 8–9 medium-sized bakeries are working on innovations and new ideas for improving profitability. The collaboration with Nofima baker André Løvaas was facilitated as part of this project.
“We thought: Let’s do something nobody else does. How can we do it, and who can help us?”, says Torbjørn Kristiansen.
The answer was André Løvaas – Nofima’s baker, who recently stepped down from his position as coach for the Norwegian National Bakery Team after three years. Under his leadership, the team made the podium at the Bakery World Cup for the first time in history.
“It is wonderful to be allowed to utilize André’s expertise”, says the chief baker.
Chemistry is the key in André Løvaas’ contributions to Tromsø Bakeri.
“Many of the people working at Trømsø Bakeri have extensive knowledge about baking, grains and different processes. For long-rise processes, it’s all a matter of understanding the chemistry involved in baking and rising bread – especially when you’re baking a great number of breads at once, which is the case for bakeries of this size. Getting outside help during such processes is not so much about a lack of internal expertise, but rather about finding a sparring partner for developing new ideas”, says André Løvaas.
To keep going with trial and error indefinitely – or to call Nofima
When the dough is no longer set to rise for only one hour, like every home-baker is accustomed to, many elements need adjustment.
“What we do is slow down the enzyme activity in the dough by lowering the pH levels. To do that, the temperature and composition of ingredients must be balanced just right, along with several other factors. We adjust and record the results from one parameter at a time and hope to ultimately end up with a process that wors as intended – and provides tasty results”, explains André Løvaas.
“We could keep going with trial and error indefinitely … or we could call Nofima. Caling for assistance is far easier than fumbling around on our own”, says Torbjørn Kristiansen.
The two white-clad gentlemen have a hearty laugh at the fact that the research institute’s baking expert actually did not start to formalize his baker’s diploma until recently – despite the fact that he teaches the subject, and has taken part in developing the curriculum along with the national union for the baker and confectioner sector (BKLF), NMBU and cereal researchers from Nofima. The Tromsø baker has had his paperwork in order for quite a while already.
“However, André is nonetheless a lot better than me at chemistry and the processes involved in altering the recipes. Also, he’s a marvellous sparring partner for discussing all kinds of questions related to baking. It’s incredibly fun to be able to conduct research on one’s field of expertise in this way”, says certified baker Kristiansen, laughing.
“Bakers are usually pleasant people. We often have a lot of fun when we’re working here and scratching our heads over the various problems we encounter in the process”.
Evolve or downscale
27 employees at Tromsø Bakeri are responsible for baking bread and pastries, running the bakery outlet and transporting baked goods to other vendors. Their products are very familiar to Tromsø consumers. However, the bakery had reached a point where it was essential to evolve. As part of the process of evolving their operations, they have invested in four new baking ovens that are now operating at the new, larger premises in Breivika in Tromsø.
“Tromsø Bakeri is willing to enter the process of applying for development funding from Innovation Norway and following up on what it takes to facilitate further development. That’s cool”, says the Nofima baker, smiling.
“It was either that, or going the other way and start downsizing operations. We have spent 18 years at our previous premises, and a proper overhaul was long overdue. Now we kill more birds with one stone, in new premises with new and improved working processes and new and improved working hours”, says Chief Baker Kristiansen.
His boss completely agrees.
“We are now prepared to face the competition for baked goods and pastry buyers. We’re not competing on price, but we’re supplying people with fresh bread – locally, right here in Tromsø city. Nobody will beat us when it comes to freshness”, concludes Kristian Wiik, General Manager at Tromsø Bakeri.