Organised by IFST’s South East Branch, a group of 10 IFST members from students to those working in the food and drink industry attended the Technical Visit at the National School Bakery, at London South Bank University (LSBU) on Thursday 30 January 2020. The National Bakery School is the world’s oldest bakery, having just celebrated its 175th Birthday in 2019. The School offers a wide range of courses in bakery and confectionery including one of the few foundation and full BSc degree in Baking Science and Technology. Students graduating from the School go on to make successful careers in manufacturing, new product development, ingredients suppliers and some go on to set up their own businesses – a reflection of the efforts made by the School to instil entrepreneurship and employability in their courses.
The afternoon consisted of a brief tour of the school where we saw the now “modern styled kitchens” where it has been refurbished on the original marble flooring. I must point out though, we did have a peep through the chocolate room (named ‘Callebaut Chocolate Room 2016’) and the smell of chocolate diffusing out into the corridor was somewhat divine. That moment of being in “Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory” and seeing how students were developing their chocolate making skills was fascinating. It would not be a tour without seeing the white 175th Birthday Cake – magnificent to see the height and the details of the design!
Jane gave the visitors an overview of cake making by describing the ingredients responsible for ‘structure’, ‘carrying’ and ‘closing’ in a typical recipe. The visitors, armed with a fault-finding chart then carried out a practical exercise to try to identify the ‘deliberate’ faults that had been incorporated into a range of prepared cakes and control. Aided by Jane’s prompting we were beginning to develop a whole new technical vocabulary in cake making. We completed our visit with a plenary session where Jane explained the faults, how they could occur and a range of tips and anecdotes to ensure successful cake making. I can’t reveal all the secrets we learned…… but two good tips are (1): to make sure you weigh the egg contents after shelling before adding to the other weighed recipe ingredients and (2): add a container with water to create some steam in the oven during baking.
Thank you to Jane Hatton, Elaine Thomson, the National Bakery School and of course IFST for organising such an interesting afternoon.
“If thou tastest a crust of bread, thou tastest all the stars and all the heavens.” – Robert Browning
Event Report by Kiu Sum and Kenneth Spears