It’s A Baker’s Life

Well, what an amazing start to the year; the devastating floods that hit Queensland, Northern NSW and Victoria are not what is meant by the term getting smashed for New Years!

In a time where many found it tough-going for 2010 and were looking forward to a better 2011, this was not the start they were hoping for. Ingredient prices continue to skyrocket across the board and it will be quite some time before things begin to recover and normalise.

With the three major Queensland flour mills out of action for some time, flour is being shipped from interstate and will provide many challenges for the Queensland baking community coming to terms with the subtle but important differences, such as development times and hydration levels.

In stark contrast to where I am now writing this, it is 1°C today and the Australian baking team are guests of the Puratos Company at their Innovation Center in Brussels, Belgium. We are very fortunate to be training with French MOF and 1992 World Baking Champion, Theirry Meunier.

The Puratos Company is a 90-year-old family company with an amazing level of customer service that surpasses anything we’ve experienced before. Their approach to their staff is personal and professional development is world class and that expertise is available to all worldwide.

We are training hard and getting some much-needed practice and inside information on what is required to win the Coupe du Monde del la Boulangerie in China in May.

Thierry is an amazing baker and has a baguette flour name after him called ‘Baguette Meunier’. The differences between French flour and Australian flours are amazing. Thierry had us making traditional baguette, French country bread, croissant, and brioche.

We tested different mixing methods, fermentation styles and preferments using French traditional flour, French flour with additives and 1.1 per cent ash content flour that would be the equivalent of our Australian wholemeal flour but looked like our rye meal flour.

We had outstanding results with both Thierry and Puratos Innovation Center manager, Stephane Van Cauwenbergh giving it their approval and saying that the team’s product was of World Cup standard.

From here we go to Lyon to attend the Sirha show and observe the European round of the Louis Lesaffre Cup. This will give us a very good insight into what the top European teams are producing. Read this issue’s shows + eventssection on pages 43 and 46 for the full story.

After Lyon, it’s back to Paris where we are guests of Grands Moulin de Paris at their bakery school. More training takes place here again, going through the production of baguette, croissant and brioche. Grands Moulin de Paris provides the flour for the Louis Lesaffre Cup internationally and their flour will be available in Australia shortly through France Gourmet in Brisbane.

All that’s left to do now is get back home and put these new-found skills and knowledge into use through our businesses and to the industry through Southern Cross Baking Group. Then it’s full-time into practice so that we can take our place in Paris in 2012.

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