Preparation for the bakery competition starts months ahead. Even in the final few weeks before the competition, you will be preparing and making products. The last few hours are most crucial, as you will be getting everything sorted out for the big day. It can be pretty daunting if you have never entered a competition before, but proper preparation will minimise panic situations. It is completely normal for the anxiety to intensify especially on the day before the event but here are 7 tips that I hope will help minimise your worry. I might not be an expert at these competitions but since it is my 3rd time competing for the ABST, I thought I’d share my thoughts.
1. Read the guidelines
Read, read, read! This is a vital step in a competition. Make sure that you read the rules and specifications of your chosen category before you start preparing anything.
2. Sketch ideas
If you have an interesting thought or idea, just jot it down or sketch it on a piece of paper. If you find it difficult to think of ideas, you can always search for some inspiration on social media!
Once you have got an idea of what you would like to take part in, make sure that you plan out your preparation time. Make a note of the days/times that you hope to practice making the product and stick to it.
4. Get a second opinion
It is always a good idea to get a second opinion from your teacher, lecturer, family member or friend. They will look at your idea from a different perspective and give you their views.
5. Stay focused
Set yourself some goals and try your level best to stick to them. Practice as much as you can because “practice makes perfect”!
6. Prepare what you need the day before the competition
The morning of the competition can be stressful, so avoiding rushing around as you may forget the things that you need for the competition. Organize yourself the day before. It is a good idea to make a check list of all the things that you need to bring along with you. This will help put your mind at ease.
7. Learn from your mistakes
If you win 3rd, 2nd or 1st place, then well done to you in advance! If you don’t win a place, well done anyway for trying! Even if you don’t win a place this time, there will always be a next time, so don’t give up.
Finally, once the competition is over - have fun! Meet new people, make friends, cool off in the pool and just enjoy the rest of the conference!
Thanks for reading!
Hello, and welcome to my first blog!
I am currently undertaking an NC in baking, which covers more than just bread, in fact it covers almost everything baking related, but I’ve carved out a little time each Monday morning to hone in on a tasty sourdough loaf.
I initially used the starter and sourdough recipe from Richard Bertinets book, Crust. This turned out to be way too wet, and over proved rapidly in the conditions of our bakery, so I have been keeping a record of changes I’ve made to the original recipe trying to get the right workable dough. The starter Ihave not altered at all.
So, for the recipe I have experimented it to a point where it works for me, it is vastly different from the original. I have reduced the starter by 50%, reduced the water by 10%, increased the salt by 1%, but am also considering changing the salt altogether, to try and find one that doesn’t disappear in the final loaf, I did not alter the flour quantities, although I did whilst practicing, to varied results, in the end keeping it as a constant worked better.
The recipe as it stands –
Refreshed starter left in fridge for two days to increase flavour(this works well up to five days)
700 grams strong white flour
90 grams rye flour
200 grams starter
600 grams tepid water
2% salt (18 grams)
The method I am following at the moment has also developed since finding out control methods from my tutor like, taking the temperature of the flour, air, and using the expected dough temperature, plus an estimated mixing temp to discover a good water temperature, this has helped with the proving consistency.
I start by incorporating all the flour with 80% of the water and leaving it to autolyse for 40 minutes. I then add the rest of the water and starter, mixing thoroughly. I then turn it out onto a table and using the slap and fold technique, knead for roughly ten minutes, this has lessened as my knowledge of the technique has increased, at this point I add the salt, by pressing it into the dough, then continuing to knead until it comes away from the table cleanly, and it is smooth looking on the surface.
It then goes through two hours of relaxing and two times folding in a warm proving area, after this I place each dough in heavily floured bannetons, and place in split plastic freezer bags. This then spends sixteen to eighteen hours retarding at 16 to 18c.
To bake, I dusted peels with fine semolina, set oven to 250c, and baked loaves for roughly 30 mins, if loaves still feel a little heavy but are coloured well, I will reduce the oven to 160c and leave the loafs for a further 15/20 minutes. I also steam the oven before the bread goes in, and after 10 minutes of baking. With a 180 degree turn of the loafs half way through the bake.
This is as far as I have got, and the loaf produced has a nice crust, soft and elastic crumb, with a nice, but not too strong, sour flavour.
I am considering a slight increase of the starter to try and achieve more of that characteristic big hole crumb everybody loves so much. That is for the next attempt but have been happy to learn more about the feel of dough, ways to have more control, and how a different environment can alter the outcome drastically.
If you had the chance to read this blog, and love your sourdough, I hope some of my journey gives you tools to improve your outcome, or at least start to experiment a little with your own journey. If you have any advice, I would love to hear it.
Till the ABST conference,
All the best, and happy baking!
The National Bakery School is buzzing with alumnus, former lecturers, bakery friends and visitors during its 125th year celebration last November 2019. The hallways are decorated with various works and awards of the students alongside purple banners with quotes from different the industry personalities and history timelines from 1894 to 2019 of the bakery school.
One of the highlights of the evening was the talk from NBS alumni, renown author and co-founder of Baketran Mr. Stanley Cauvain. He just recently published a book entitled “Baking Technology and Nutrition: Towards a Healthier World”. Before Mr. Cauvain stepped on the small stage, I managed to talk to him and asked for his advice on some tips that can help me on my dissertation which is perfectly aligned with health and nutrition on bakery products. This is what he said: “There will always be challenges in any industry and innovation will be here to stay. These innovations will hopefully, provide people with better and healthier choices.
However, for bakers, the challenge is to meet certain expectations and perceptions on the products they wish to modify, whether these can guarantee acceptance and give the wow factor, or even find alternative. This is valuable advice from the bakery industry’s top consultant. This is one of the advantages in volunteering in an event where people in the industry were present. Inputs that they give are priceless and its completely free.
In the up-coming ABST 2020 conference, there will be people from the industry that will be present in the event. Therefore, take this opportunity to explore and ask questions that will be helpful or beneficial in your studies.
Happy Baking everyone!
In a world where there are so many different dietary choices now, I wanted to look at those who choose a ketogenic lifestyle. For those who don’t know, keto in a nut shell is; very-low carb and high in fats and because sugar is a carb you’ll find you need to alter your choices of sweeteners to keep those carbs low. The idea of a keto diet is to place the body into ketosis which switches the body into breaking down fats and ketones as opposed to carbs.
So, how on earth to you bake keto?
Turns out, it’s not that difficult but could get a bit pricey – so if you fancy the switch, prepare to face the cost.
Here are a few staple replacements in the keto world:
• Almond flour
• Coconut flour
• Almond Milk
• Oat Milk
Personally, the idea of a low-carb diet freaks me out – I just love them too much. But after diving into this world a little bit; I’ve seen that a few changes don’t usually have a detrimental effect on the final outcome of a bake. I found a recipe which promises a chocolatey and fudgy cake and uses only 7 ingredients. Considering it’s a keto recipe I was expecting a tonne of alternatives and fancy ingredients – but surprisingly instead of a traditional flour and caster sugar – instead they use almond flour, erythritol and give the option of using dairy free milk!
Back in January, Tony brought you a fab no added sugar cake recipe; as bakers it’s definitely a tough one to avoid adding sugar and using alternative flours but there’s a whole world out there waiting to be explored. So why not give this recipe a go:
210g Almond flour – if you don’t fancy buying this but have almonds to hand; you could blitz these up yourself just make sure not to take it too far otherwise you’ll start to make almond butter instead!
35g cup cocoa powder
12g baking powder
50g water or almond milk
30g erythritol or ordinary sugar
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
I will 100% be exploring this world more because as Tony said for sugar awareness week as a nation our sugar intake is more than recommended so any little tricks to keep it lower is a win in my book!
Welcome to the world of Keto!
Sugar? Why is everyone always talking about cutting down on it? Is it really that bad? What can we do about it?
Sugar can be broken down into 2 categories, natural sugars and added sugars.
Natural sugars are the ones that appear naturally in nature, in fruits and vegetables, when we consume them they always come with added vitamins and minerals that help the body to process sugars and keep us healthy, such as fiber and proteins.
Added sugars are processed sugars that are added to produce,usually for flavours, these include syrups. Added sugars don’t come with any added vitamins or minerals, they are known as empty calories, they are known as such because they have no benefit to the body at all, past a point they become detrimental to a person’s health.
The average consumption of sugar is roughly 60g per day, which doesn’t seem a whole lot, but when you consider that the recommended consumption is only 25g for women and 35g for men, then it becomes quite real. Excess consumption has been linked to heart disease, type 2 diabetes and to strokes.
So we all know how bad sugar can be for us, so why do we all still consume so much of it? The answer is when we eat sugar it releases dopamine, which can be addictive.
So to combat it, we can do some of the following tips:
1- Avoid carbonated drinks
2- Avoid fruit juices as they tend to have a lot of sugar in them, stick to the whole fruit
3- Avoid sweets, seems like a no brainer
4- Avoid baked goods, you can try substituting sugar with cinnamon, nutmeg, almond extract, vanilla, ginger, lemons and other fruits
5- Check labels on items, if they claim to be low fat, they sometimes have high sugar.
6- Cut sugar in teas and coffees
Below I have attached a fun cake recipe that is sugar free!
• 3 large ripe bananas, mashed
• 60g yogurt (full-fat dairy or unsweetened non-dairy)
• 125 ml coconut water
• 3 eggs, beaten
• 5g vanilla extract
• 210g plain flour
• 115g ground almonds
• 10g baking powder
• 5g bicarbonate of soda
• 5g ground cinnamon
1. Preheat the oven to 180c.
2. Beat the bananas, yogurt, coconut water, eggs and vanilla extract in a bowl until as smooth and combined.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix until combined and there are no more visible flecks of flour.
5. Pour into 12-hole muffin tin lined with cupcake cases and bake for 20 mins or until slightly golden in appearence.
Happy sugar swapping.
If he isn’t vegan, let that mango…
We have come to that time of year again when it’s all about being vegan. So having been vegan for a good few years myself I’ve decided to include one of my favourite healthy vegan recipes down below for you to have a go.
As I’m sure everyone is feeling pretty guilty from all the Christmas indulgence maybe it’s time to try out some healthier snacks as we get back to our normal routines. Even if you’re an avid meat eater or love a good slice of cheese it can’t be denied that vegan food is getting tastier and tastier and not only that, but following a plant based diet is great for maintaining healthy cholesterol and reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and that’s only a few of the benefits to consider.
A record 250,000 people worldwide signed up to the Veganuary movement in 2019 by embracing plant-based diets during January and is due to increase even more during 2020 this month. That means that this amount of people will cut all animal foods such as meat, dairy, eggs and honey – this may sound difficult but trust me it isn’t!
Why not give Veganuary a go and switch to a plant-based diet to reduce your carbon footprint by 60%. Anyway it’s time to share some tasty recipes to start baking!!
10 Ingredient Healthy Oat Cookies
• 84 g almond flour or buckwheat flour
• 67 g rolled oats
• 20 g desiccated coconut (or you could try and sub more almond meal, oats)
• 30 g vegan dark chocolate (chips or chopped bar)
• 3/4 tsp baking powder
• 1/4 tsp sea salt
• 73 g organic brown sugar or muscovado sugar (or coconut sugar)
• 60 ml aquafaba (the liquid in a can of chickpeas)
• 32 g almond butter (or other nut or seed butter)
• 45 ml avocado or melted coconut oil
• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract (optional)Instructions
1. In a mixing bowl, stir together almond flour, oats, coconut, vegan chocolate, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
2. In a separate bowl, beat aquafaba (using a handheld mixer or by whisking vigorously) until light and fluffy and loose peaks have formed. (Add a pinch of cream of tartar to help them along if not whipping.)
3. To the aquafaba, add the almond butter, oil, and vanilla and whisk to combine. (The mixture will deflate a little - that's OK). Then add to the dry ingredients and mix until combined. You should have a firm, tacky dough. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or overnight.
4. Preheat oven to 180 C and either lightly grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
5. Scoop chilled dough into roughly 2-Tablespoon amounts and form into small discs.
6. Place on baking sheet with about a 1-inch gap in between each cookie to allow for spreading. There should be about 12 cookies.
7. Bake for 10 minutes. Then increase oven temperature to 190 C and bake for another 2-4 minutes or until the edges are slightly golden brown. Be careful not to burn (especially on the bottoms) - they bake quickly toward the end.
8. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Then carefully loosen with a spatula - they can stick a little to the bare pan.
Happy National Shortbread Day! There is nothing more wonderful than the crumbly texture of a shortbread melting in your mouth, accompanied by a cup of tea or coffee or even a delightful cold glass of milk.
While researching into shortbread I came across some interesting facts and I thought I would share a brief history behind the tasty, yet humble shortbread biscuit.
The story of shortbread begins with the medieval “biscuit bread”. In medieval times, any leftover dough from bread making was dried out in a low oven until it hardened into a type of rusk. The word “biscuit” means “twice cooked”. Gradually the yeast in the bread was replaced by butter, and biscuit bread developed into shortbread.
Here are some interesting facts:
Today, you can find many different flavoured shortbreads ranging from chocolate to tea infused biscuits... but I think you just cannot beat the classic buttery melt in the mouth biscuit, yes my mouth is watering too!
With all these interesting facts about shortbread under your belt, don’t forget to enter the shortbread competition at ABST 2020!!
Thanks for reading,
Caroline, ABST Rep
With Christmas just around the corner, UCB are in full swing of Christmas pudding production. Each year, bakery students make hundreds of delicious traditional Christmas puds using Guinness to create that perfectly rich flavour, and sell them in the University’s Cakes and Bakes shop.
This year a limited edition of UCB’s Christmas pudding has been made using a coconut-based beer brewed within ‘hopping’ distance of the uni to support local producers and create a sustainable product. The beer was sourced from the ‘Burning Soul Brewery Company’ in Birmingham’s 7% Coconut Porter, which is located less than a mile from UCB’s Summer Row campus.
Not only is the company sustainable, it was named as ‘Best New Brewery’ in the West Midlands by the international RateBeer.com community when it opened its doors during 2017. The use of the beer has also created a great taste in the puddings as the fresh hand broken coconuts really accentuatethe other flavours.
Swapping the Guinness for the Coconut Porterhas promoted sustainability, and supported our fantastic local producers in Birmingham. The puddings were even put through sensory analysis with students, and the Coconut Porter came out on top as the favourite. Our sustainable limited edition Christmas puddings are now available to buy starting from £1.80 at the Cakes and Bakes shop in Summer Row for students, staff and members of the public.
We hope to delight everyone’s festive tables this year and bring a sustainable tasty pleasure to each mouth!
Merry Christmas to all,
Hello everyone I’m Reanna shore and I’m the new ABST student representative for Tameside college alongside Tony Rees, I am currently a Level 3 student and I am excited to work with the Committee, representing my College is something I already do as a rep at Tameside.
I’m honoured to be working along side you all in the ABST, I have attended the conference previously and last year I won a 2nd place of the Novice Cup. I love learning more and taking on extra curriculum activites, my mission with this Student Rep role is to gain more experience and put forth my ideas/thoughts from a student perspective.
My background is more towards Cake Decorating, I specialise in little figurines and hope to maybe one day use my skills in a job. My tutors are incredibly supportive and I am glad I have pushed myself to take on extra responsibility as I love meeting new people and talking to like minded bakers from around the country!
I can't wait until the Conference next year, I would appreciate any advice or guidance in regards to competitions but most of all I am looking forward to working alongside the other ABST Student Reps and hopefully, I will see you all next year! May the odds of bread be in your favour :).
Surplus breads from commercial and small bakeries are taking the punch in the battle to address the million slices of bread being wasted yearly. Monday the 4th November, National Bakery School was invited by Toast Ale Ltd and Brewdog brewery and hangout place in Tower Hill, to experience how they transform surplus or leftover breads into beer and to take part in their exciting bake-off challenge which showcased the use of pumpkin as the star ingredient. The surplus breads and other native beer ingredients along with enzymes and brewer’s yeast are mixed together and undergo a series of fermentations within temperature-controlled tanks.
Sven, the head brewer and James the event organiser talked about their average weekly consumption of surplus bread coming from different bakeries and taken to their largest brewery site in Yorkshire. In addition, they are also looking for a company that can process surplus breads into manageable sizes ready to make the brewing process runmore swiftly. The by-products from the brewery are then delivered to the farms which serves as animal feed hence, nothing is wasted.
I tried the Toast session IPA and it had a clean citrus-like taste, whilst the Pale ALE had a soft malt-like, clean taste. Both beers have a hint of caramel due to the bread crust which I find interesting. This was a new beer drinking experience for me and the bake-off concluded with my classmate Amy winning the challenge with her sustainable pumpkin pie. Whilst my winter spiced pumpkin and raisin loaf was voted as the people’s choice award.
Bakery students from around the UK and Ireland sharing their experiences