It's National Chocolate Week! So I thought I would share and reflect on my experience at Callebaut :)
In June, I was given the opportunity to attend a Chocolate Business Start-up Course/work experience at the Barry Callebaut UK Chocolate Academy in Banbury for 5 days (with accommodation provided and a great breakfast!!).
On the first day, I was introduced to Julie Sharp, Beverly Dunkley and Clare
England – awesome people to work with, who took me on a tour of the factory and introduced me to the rest of the team. They made some yummy chocolate chip cookies, gelato and my all-time favourite – hot chocolate!! Later that day, I had the opportunity to attend a Professional chocolate tasting session where I tasted a variety of different percentages of chocolates.
The next day I sat through a very interesting Negotiation workshop and the speaker was advising us on how to promote our products to companies the right way. After a fabulous lunch, I was able to assist Clare England in the NPD room and hand tempered a variety of chocolates such as Caramel, Orange, Gold and Cappuccino. It was fun to help and develop snacks for a company using rice cakes, popcorn and inclusions. Incorporating the different percentages of chocolates including the 4th generation chocolate, Ruby and the new sugar reduced chocolate, Eclipse was a new and exciting experience.
As I had not much experience making vegan products, it was amazing to work with Julie Sharp trialing vegan recipes such as the Italian meringue, glazes, mousses, cookies and sables. It was an eye opener for me.
On the 4th day, I got to practice my hand dipping and tempering skills with the rest of the class. We worked as a team using the selmi chocolate enrober and made a variety of delicious chocolates.
The final day came so quickly and I had already eaten half my weight in chocolate!!! It was lovely to learn about upcoming trends in the chocolate industry and a useful aspect of the course was to know how to grow a chocolate business from scratch.
It was such an enjoyable experience to learn and work alongside some of the greatest chocolatiers. Working in this industry has been my personal interest and passion, and to have been given this opportunity has been absolutely incredible.
Thanks for reading!
Yes, our week is here, so let's get this show on the Rocky Road!
Did you think we would write a baking blog without puns? Come on!
For many of you, it is pretty much the start of the academic year and you're probably busy with assignments and dissertations now but I thought this fact would remind you that although you're in this to create a big career for yourself it has actually been proven that baking is a natural stress reliever! So perhaps keep that in mind when you're knee deep in assignments, to take a break to bake! :).
The photos below are our members favourite baked items and honestly, we love them all! That's why baking is so great, the versatility and skill really is something to be admired.
We hope you have a great week of baking, be sure to tag us in your social media posts so we can see what you have made/created!
Earlier this year I was lucky enough to secure a week placement at British Bakels Ltd. I was so excited by this opportunity as I was keen to gain any sort of insight into the industry and gain some experience along the way! British Bakels manufacture a wide range of bakery ingredients and distribute them for their customers which range from large-scale industries to craft bakeries located all over the country! Their site in Bicester is only one of many across the world, with 38 subsidiaries spanning all five continents!
After university I would like to work in the industry itself, expanding my knowledge across all departments and this placement was the perfect opportunity for me to do so. Bakels very kindly organised me to have a day in each section of their site which proved to be very insightful as I got to grasp how the company functions and not just in one sector.
On Monday it was general introductions to Bakels and British Bakels as an enterprise, Tuesday I was able to visit their labs and see how they test their products against quality specifications using equipment I was already familiar with from university. Tuesday also provided me an opportunity to have a go in Bakels test bakery and baking a few of their most popular products. Wednesday provided me with an opportunity to have some time out of the site on some customer visits which saw me travelling and observing what the sales team to do present their clients with new products British Bakels might be coming out with or solutions to an issue a customer has with an existing product b replacing it with one of Bakels’. Thursday presented me with a product development challenge in which I was tasked with playing with flavours and quantities within a specification and this was continued on Friday where I was in the test bakery again playing with some of their most popular products and seeing how I could put a twist on them.
Overall, I was very grateful to Bakels for giving me this opportunity as it is not advertised or a part of a student program. I gained valuable experience I will carry through onto my future career. I would advise any student to gain some experience in the industry as it looks excellent on your CV whilst giving you valuable experience.
Yes that's right, today I have wrote a blog on something new I am trying out. Now this is a trend that will not go out of fashion! I am just starting my journey as a Vegetarian and I am eager to listen to people's ideas or opinions about it all, so please do drop a comment below :)
What I have learnt so far that it is a real importance to understand and adhere to these growing trends whether you're trying the lifestyle or not. Making baked goods vegetarian sounds a lot harder than it actually is, when in reality you're probably already making products veggie without realising it!
I like to make cakes for friends and family and a family friend asked if I could make them a vegan cake for their son's Birthday. Having never made a vegan cake before I was undoubtedly worried about the quality as my knowledge is very limited. I also used natural flavourings and colourings from fruit and vegetables. I can honestly say it was the best cake I have ever made and the customer was super happy too.
I think the one thing I have learned throughout my baking career to date is that not all people who request vegan baked goods are Vegans, they're just trying to reduce their animal produce intake and conscious about the sustainability aspect.
I am always experimenting with recipes and would love to learn and try out more, so if you have any ideas or recipes, feel free to share them!
ABST Student Rep
What a way to start off the new term with National Sourdough Week!
The trend for "Sourdough" has been a trend that has stuck for quite a few years now, in fact, it is a shock to not see some sort of sourdough on a menu in restaurants!
Now we know that the Egyptians were the first civilisations to discover and use wild yeast in bread, it was their primary food and for many years after it had become as popular to consume as potatoes. The term wild simply means no physical additon of yeast, it is natural and this is why it is such a controversial topic! Many bakers believe that bread should not be called Sourdough if it has commerical yeast added in, what are your thoughts on that?
A typical Sourdough will have a thick crust, dark in appearance and the famous 'ear' burst. There are many different types of Sourdough and what is facinating, is you could buy a Sourdough with the same ingredients from different bakeries and they would taste different. However, from researching this, many people buy Sourdough for the health benefits it imposes; for example, people claim Sourdough has reduced problems with digestion incomparison to bread with additives.
Now, I am not a professional with Sourdough and I am constantly learning more and more about it, if you have any comments or advice please comment below!
Thanks so much,
ABST Student Rep.
WHat do you need to bring?
Conference is almost here!
We thought it would be good to list the Top 10 essentials for the weekend to make sure you don't forget anything.
1. Fancy Dress
Friday night is fancy dress night. Our theme this year is 60s-80s, so all delegates are to turn up in fancy dress on the night. There are prizes on the night for best costume, so it is definitely worth making the effort and getting involved. Please ensure that you have read our other blog post regarding fancy dress at Alton Towers.
2. Black Tie Dinner Attire
On the Saturday evening, we hold our awards dinner which is a black tie event. Get prepared early if you need to buy dresses or suits for the evening ceremony. You could also hire these to save you some money if you don’t already have one.
3. Comfy Clothes / Footwear
Now we know you will pack clothes but we all know how the british weather can be. We suggest wearing comfy clothes, especially for the Sunday at the theme park! You may be walking around alot so wear comfy shoes.
4. Swimming Costume
This isn't an essential if you're not going into Splash Landings, Alton Towers does have a shop if you do forget it but we're not sure of the prices. If you're not sure whether to go into Splash Landings then just bring a costume just incase you change your mind.
Although some meals are provided, you may get hungry throughout the day. Drinks on both evenings are not provided so be sure to bring money to cover the two nights. There is also an arcade and convenience store and of course Alton Towers on the Sunday, you may want to buy the hilarious pictures of yourself from the rides!
If you plan on drinking alcohol throughout the weekend then please remember to bring your I.D. Alton Towers are pretty strict and will not serve you without, it is their right to question your age if they feel to do so.
7. Camera & Chargers
You will for sure have your phone with you throughout the weekend which obviously has a camera but if you do own a separate one please bring it along to take pictures of your competition pieces! We will be taking photos too but yes, make sure you bring all chargers that you need!
You may not require specific medication but if you do then please do not forget to bring it as you may be quite a distance away from your home to go back and fetch it. It is so important to ensure your lecturer and the ABST know of any allergies you may have so we can inform the appropiate people.
9. Bathroom Essentials
The one item most people forget! Don’t forget to pack all of your bathroom supplies you will need over the weekend. Alton Towers do have some essential items available such as toothbrushes, but you will need to pay for them, and there aren’t any shops around Alton Towers to quickly nip out and get something. The closest supermarket is about 30 minutes drive away.
10. Suncream / Aloe Vera Gel or maybe even an Umbrella...
Now, we know the weather changes all the time but we usually get pretty sunny weather, be sure to bring sun block just incase the sun is beaming! UV protection is imnportant and we don't want you to get burnt. Though, it could rain so bring a coat & umbrella just incase, we don't want you getting ill!
We've listed the Top 10 items in which people tend to forget, we hope it helps!
See you soon,
s This year the theme is 60s-90s and we can't wait to see all the costumes!
If you have been before you will know that previously we have held a mini competition for the best male and female costume and it is the same this year. So be sure to get your costumes made/bought soon as the conference is in 19 days time!! However, the fancy dress is just for fun it is not a requirement, if you don't want to dress up that's absoultely fine, you will still enjoy the evening.
As always there will be a photo booth as well to get some groooovy photos taken and as always the DJ will play music that matches the theme, be sure to get those dancing shoes on!
If you have any questions do not hesitate to contact us either by email email@example.com or via our social media pages.
That's right, its World Baking Day and yes we deserve it! Us bakers work hard day in day out to create fine goods for the public to eat. It's a day celebrated world wide and we thought it would be good to share what our ABST members have been making.
Now, we have a Confection to make... yes, you've guessed it there will be some puns throughout this blog!
We also feel that this day is to celebrate all the students studying or working in this fantastic industry, after all you are the bakers of tomorrow. The conference is just around the corner, so we know you're probably busy finishing off your semesters and practicing for the competitions.
But as your semester is coming to an end, some of you might be finishing off writing your dissertations & assignments but maybe you could take a break and have a ...dessertation day instead to bake something you and others love. Work on skills you didn't know you had or just simply eat from your favourite bakery!
If you don't want to share your bakery pictures, why not share some recipes that you enjoy using? Inspire us and others, we are all constantly learning and experimenting, a previous blog post focused solely on vegan pastry and it was fantastic to learn little tips from some of you. Or do you simply have questions to ask in regards to baking? We have top industry experts who would be happy to help with any enquiries. Use this platform to your advantage :)
Here are some bakery products students have shared with us to share with you, enjoy this day of Celebration!
Before you go... What did the flour say to the loaf of bread?
I saw you Yeasterday...ok sorry, Happy Baking! :)
What is it?
#LobTheCob is a yearly tradition which involves well...lobbing a 400g
cob on a peel!
It's all a bit of fun, each College/Uni will hold their Semi-Finals to determine their two finalists (One Female and One Male). There are certain rules to follow so click this link to see the "Lob The Cob" section on the ABST website. You may be disqualified if the rules aren't followed, this goes for both Lob the Cob and any other competitors, read carefully.
We then hold the final on the Saturday at 12.30pm, this where all the finalists verse each other LIVE! The winners will then receive their prize and celebrate their victory! Be sure to spread the word so your fellow student friends can come and support you.
We're surprised this sport isn't held in the Olympics, it's a unique sport I guess! Check out our social media pages, you can find previous videos of the finals to see how it runs.
Good Luck, have fun and be careful...don't injure yourself! :)
Dunn's Bakery - London
Last year I was lucky enough to attend British Society of Baking conference. I had never attended any conferences before as this year is my first year attending ABST! There were many inspring speakers throughout the day and networking time. In fact, I got speaking to Christopher Freeman from Dunn's Bakery. This bakery offers many high end products ranging from celebration cakes to bread and confectionery goods. What I really apprecated was that they use local & fresh ingredients, supporting other independent businesses to create the finest products. It was Christophers grandfather, Robert Freeman, who traveled down from Northamptonshire to London in a hay wagon in 1820. By 1827 Robert opened Dunns Bakery in Crouch End.
Now, I already know what my end goal is, I would love to have my own business one day and Christopher really advised me on the best way possible to go about it. That was when I built up the courage to ask for some experience, I mean if you don't ask you don't get, right? Cut a long story short I was now in contact with Lewis Freeman, current bakery manager at Dunn's and is the SIXTH generation baker, wow! A few emails and phone calls later, I had secured a weeks experience at the bakery. Lewis was really helpful and sorted accommodation out for me with someone who works at the bakery.
My main love in bakery is bread, but my first shift was with the cake decorating department starting at 5:30am. I was nervous going straight into cakes as I have no confidence with creating visually stunning products. I was introduced to Neil who is the cake decorator, the first thing he asked me was if I had any cake decorating experience and all I said was ‘don’t let me pipe’. So he straight away reminded me how to make a piping bag and he spent the first hour with me just teaching me ways of piping. Each time I practiced I got better and better and I was so lucky to have that one on one experience with him. Neil made me feel so much more confident in myself and I learnt so many new skills and now I’m actually pretty good at piping!
As it was Easter week I got the chance to make the chocolate bunnies. Making and using chocolate at University is great for learning but seeing it all done a bigger scale was such an eye opener. Neil said to me "I’ve never trusted anyone else to do the chocolate bunnies so someone at University must be teaching you right" which just shows how important it is that we are learning these skills before going out into the industry.
The main thing I took away from my experience there was that I gained so much more confidence in myself. Going on placements is nerve racking and it’s scary staying in a city you don’t know well but you just have to believe in yourself and have fun! The skills I have learnt are so valuable now and the memories will stay for life.
The one piece of advice I would give to students in a similar position is to take the plunge and ask! After all, we are the up and coming bakers, if you specialise in a particular subject then go experience something you're not confident in. Knowledge is power, never stop learning :).
Thanks for reading, I hope this inspires you to get yourself out there more! I am so looking forward to ABST to network with even more industry experts!
Holly Weeks :)
Bakery students from around the UK and Ireland sharing their experiences