NAMILCO Hosts Future of Baking Seminar

National Milling Company of Guyana (NAMILCO) recently hosted the third, two-day Future of Baking Seminar at Doolie’s Bakery at Land of Canaan, East Bank Demerara from May 25- 26. Attendees included local bakers from Linden, Essequibo, Berbice and Georgetown. The primary objective of the seminar was to re-introduce traditional baking practices into local bakeries, which will improve the quality of baked products sold and increase bakers’ profits.

“In Guyana, except for one large bakery, the baking industry has not changed much over the years, said Bert Sukhai, managing director of NAMILCO. “Most bakeries continue to produce and sell the same products over time. These seminars are intended to act as a catalyst for change so the industry can grow by introducing new products properly packaged for local and export markets.”

Two international baking specialists, Didier Rosada from Red Brick Consulting and Miguel Galdos from Engrain Entity, taught the practical and theoretical baking sessions. The sessions featured the preparation of a sponge-type preferment, which was later used to prepare six types of breads: ciabatta, roasted garlic, wheat germ, multigrain, flax seeds with raisins and corona dulce. Some of these breads, such as wheat germ, multigrain, fax seeds, sesame seeds, rolled oats and sunflower seeds offer medical benefits including the reduction of cholesterol and blood sugar.

In the practical session, participants were shown by Rosada how to:

  • Prepare a sponge with a small amount of yeast, then add salt to the flour and mix with 55 percent water, which did not allow the gluten to develop.
  • Check for optimal gluten development when mixing dough.
  • Incorporate good baking practices when working with yeast, salt, high sugar and high fat (shortening in excess of 10 percent).

Rosada also demonstrated how a sponge in the formulation allows a baker to use more water.

In the theoretical session, Rosada and Galdos explained the six different formulations used and offered these tips:

  • Use olive oil instead of shortening in formulations to make products healthier.
  • Soak seeds before adding them to bread dough, as adding seeds dry results in drier baked products because the seeds soak up water in the dough.
  • Add soaked seeds at the end of gluten development, as adding them during mixing damages the gluten framework.
  • Use high sugar and high fat in different portions during mixing, as adding all of them at once results in a cake-type product.

Rosado and Galdos also explained the advantages and disadvantages of using indirect process (with preferments) vs. the straight-dough process. Some benefits of using preferments included improving flavor and extending the shelf life of baked products.

Sukhai, concluded the session by reiterating the benefits of introducing preferments into bakers’ formulations. Sukhai also challenged the bakers to be the first to introduce (or re-introduce) preferments at their bakeries.

“Our motto is ‘more than just flour,’ meaning we also provide quality service,” said Sukhai. “We hope to achieve growth in sales and build customer loyalty. These seminars bring our customers closer to us at a time when the competition is getting stronger.”

Finally, appreciation was extended to NAMILCO for hosting the seminar and also to Rosada and Galdos for teaching the bakers the techniques of using preferments.

NAMILCO intends to have these seminars approximately every two years as a way of connecting with customers. “Our previous seminar brought in more than 100 bakers, small-pastry producers and homemakers,” said Sukai. “These latest baking seminars were limited to 25 people each for two days (50 total) and were more hands on, as it was held in a bakery.”

NAMILCO also recently conducted a noodle seminar, which it plans to host every five years for the 10 producers of chow mein in the region. Look for an article on that seminar soon.