With smells of pumpkin, maple and cinnamon filling the air of local bakeries across the country, it’s evident the fall season is here, officially kicking off our busiest time of year. Behind the scenes – unbeknownst to many – is a yearlong process full of in-depth preparations that are critical to delivering quality ingredients that make bakers’ sweet-baked goods possible.

Whether a scratch baker or one who partners with an ingredient supplier, planning appropriately for the fall harvest season is crucial – from changes in the crop to natural disasters causing shortages. These testing and processing controls help set bakers up for success all year long.

The fall harvest: Why it’s so important

Throughout the year, bakers are always looking for consistency – in performance, color, appearance and flavor – and the fall harvest represents the biggest potential to achieve that consistency. In order to ensure this, it’s important to have a comprehensive testing and evaluation procedure in place for all ingredients, especially flour. This ensures products remain reliable year-over-year.

One of the many benefits of partnering with a trusted ingredient supplier, such as Dawn Foods, is that these tests are already completed when receiving the product. This testing ensures that ingredients stay the same year-over-year. In return, bakers can focus their time on what they do best – delivering delicious treats for life’s sweetest moments.

Ensuring consistency: What does it take?

When it comes to consistency – both the art and science of baking are key. From a technical standpoint, these tests are much more analytical-based, which can be chemical or physical. Examples of chemical testing include protein, moisture and ash of flour, while physical testing includes particle size or granulation, color and flavor evaluation. Other common analytical tests for ingredients include: viscosity of gums, melting points of fats and pH. 

At the same time, it is imperative that ingredients are also tested by actually baking with them. By putting products to the test, suppliers can ensure taste and ease of use. This level of testing by suppliers also saves bakers times as testing can range anywhere from 20 minutes for cake donuts to a few weeks when evaluating baked and fried products for shelf life.

When comparing ingredients year-over-year, this level of testing is crucial and ensures what bakers see on paper matches what they’ve been using from the year prior. Because of this, when looking for ingredient suppliers, it’s important to find a partner that employs both scientists and bakers.

Testing: What is critical?

As bakers, we’re making food that should be enjoyed. As part of this, finished baked goods must be as pleasing to the mouth as they are to the eye. Without thorough testing, this isn’t possible.

It is critical that ingredient suppliers conduct thorough testing to verify color, texture, volume, mouth feel, taste and moisture content. Comprehensive completion of these tests helps bakers avoid unwelcome surprises in the bakery and alleviate any setbacks in time, money and product supply.

The benefits of using a trusted supplier

Whether thinking about using an ingredient supplier to improve product supply and consistency or take the pressure off your bakery from a time-saving perspective – one thing’s for certain: regardless of the reason behind the move – it’s the smart thing to do to provide consistency and valuable peace of mind.

Throughout the calendar year, and especially in the height of the harvest season, suppliers have the knowledge, scale and assorted crop mix to respond to changing climates, natural disasters and more that may affect the finished product of a baker. With the entire supply chain focused on the output, no matter what the year may bring, ingredient suppliers ensure products are consistent and easy-to-use.

Additionally, without even knowing it, suppliers help bakers prepare for what’s to come. From flavor trends to clean label, ingredient suppliers must work months out in advance, often more than a year, to ensure the proper crops are planted and protected from unpredictable weather patterns, such as hurricanes and flooding, and fruits are preserved in the right way.

While the end of the fall harvest season is approaching, bakers should always be looking to the future and planning how best to approach the season next year. Sourcing high-quality, consistent ingredients is key to not only delivering superior products, but helping bakers everywhere get a jumpstart in preparation for the busy winter holiday months just around the corner.