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Freshly baked bread without the drawbacks

Freshly baked bread is available 24/7 thanks to ′Bake off technology′ (Bot). A European project has managed to iron out some of the disadvantages of the process, including its main downside – high energy demand.
Freshly baked bread without the drawbacks
More than 30 million tonnes of bread are served up in Europe every year. Mainly due to consumer demand, almost 50 % of the loaves are produced by Bot where the bread is pre-baked and either refrigerated or frozen. Baking again on the premises where it is to be sold ensures the warm, welcoming smell of freshly baked bread at all times.

Disadvantages are that the bread is frozen, baked twice and heated and so is energy wasteful. Quality problems include rapid staling and flaking crust. Manufacturers have focused their efforts on plain white breads which have little or no nutritional value. Moreover, speciality breads like gluten-free do not appear on the menu – the production process does not support removal of this protein. The good news for consumers and nutritionists however, is that Bot bread has a low glycaemic index (GI).

The EU-funded project EU-Freshbake aimed to reduce energy consumption and adapt the Bot process to accommodate speciality products and more exotic, nutritious varieties, according to guidelines from the European Regulation on Nutrition and Health. To fulfil these objectives, the scientists would have to develop new low-chemical ingredients and adapt the processing conditions to deliver the same quality of fresh-baked bread that the consumer demands.

By researching and adapting processing conditions, the project researchers reduced the energy consumption of Bot. Furthermore, the project partners developed innovative ingredients that are low in chemicals, and created breads with enhanced nutritional value. Gluten-free breads were also considered. On the issue of energy usage, research revealed that using fresh-baked bread in itself reduces staling and wastage.

For information, EU-Freshbake has produced a guide to good practice for the Bot process that is available through the link for ′Achievements′ at http://www.eu-freshbake.eu/eufreshbake/achievements.php. Scientific articles can be found on the website which is updated on a monthly basis. A dissemination event also took place in Düsseldorf, Germany at the IBA fair and a PowerPoint presentation can be downloaded from links given on the website.

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