In the baking industry, the right conditions give you a competitive advantage. The most successful bakeries have more than the right ingredients and skilled hands. They also use climate control solutions that ensure quality, high yields and the distinctive characteristics that customers seek in their goods. From cakes and crackers to pasta and bread, bakeries create diverse products that require specific ambient conditions for their successful preparation, storage and safe consumption.
The Role of Humidity in Baked Goods
When you consider the types of baked goods found around the world, you’ll notice that regional climates influence their characteristics. Crusty bread, for example, tends to come from areas that are arider, while softer bread often originates from regions that are more humid. Despite a bakery’s access to the finest ingredients available, it cannot import the weather from a good’s country of origin. However, it can use climate control solutions to create the ideal conditions.
The need for adequate relative humidity levels begins before the baking starts, in the storage room. Many ingredients perform their best and maintain their quality when relative humidity levels are lower and temperatures are cooler. Otherwise, the ingredients degrade faster as they oxidize, increase in water weight and become vulnerable to mold growth. Conversely, some ingredients require higher relative humidity levels, such as fruit or icing, or they will desiccate.
The conditions in which you store and handle baked goods are also important, as temperatures and humidity levels affect final products and their shelf life. Overly humid conditions soften crisp crusts, make crackers lose their crunch, or inhibit dough drying, which is necessary for pasta. If the area lacks temperature control, the goods will develop mold quickly. Overly arid conditions dry out goods that consumers expect to be soft and moist, such as cakes and sweet rolls.
While a bakery might use refrigeration and HVAC systems, they might not adequately prevent condensation caused by the moisture that freshly baked products give off or condensation from oven exhaust. For this reason, bakeries benefit from using independent climate control technologies that allow them to monitor and regulate conditions in individual areas.
As a live organism, yeast is sensitive to its environment. The water content in the dough, temperatures, and relative humidity levels affect how it ferments. As dough proofs, yeast produces carbon dioxide, causing the dough to rise, have a distinctive aroma, and modify the gluten within it. To gain greater control over how yeast performs, bakers often use dough fermentation rooms or proofing cabinets, or proofers. Dough fermentation rooms require relative humidity levels of at least 75 percent. Proofers have relative humidity levels of at least 80 percent to prevent skins from forming on the dough during the final proofing stages. In general, with the lower humidity, the crustier bread becomes as it bakes. Climate control technologies incorporated into proofing areas maintain the temperature and humidity levels necessary for the respective baked goods. This is particularly advantageous on warm days, where proofers tend to retain more heat.
Rise above weather conditions
Your bakery does not have to be at the mercy of the weather. Polygon’s custom climate control solutions give you the power to ensure the conditions in your facility are ideal for your storage, preparation, and processing needs, as well as shelf-life requirements. When the conditions in your bakery are of higher quality, you’ll produce higher yields, experience fewer losses related to food waste, and promote greater customer satisfaction. Talk to a Polygon specialist today to learn more about implementing the technologies in your bakery.