How does bread get from the factory to the grocery aisle? The process of producing bread is complex when you’re just making a loaf in your kitchen. Expand that by a hundred or a thousand, like in a commercial factory, and there are many more factors to consider. Learn more about how bread is produced in this guide.
Commercial Bread Production Process
Making a large quantity of bread in a factory requires processes and equipment that can accommodate the huge volume of dough. To meet consumer demand, factories must streamline certain elements of bread-making. Special ingredients, equipment and facilities make commercial bread production faster than traditional bakeries while maintaining the best quality and taste.
Elements of the commercial bread production process include the following.
The basic ingredients for all types of bread are:
- Flour: Flour is a complex carbohydrate. Different types of flour have different structures, which is why white flour reacts differently than maize flour. The type of flour or starch used significantly affects the final bread product.
- Salt: Salt has a dual job in the process of making bread — it enhances the ingredients’ natural flavors and improves dough consistency.
- Water: Water factors into almost all breads, hydrating the dry ingredients.
- Yeast: Yeast is an ingredient that facilitates fermentation and leavening in the bread-making process. Types of yeast include active dry yeast, rapid rise and fresh or cake yeast.
- Sugar: Many breads include sugar as an ingredient, which aids in fermentation.
Different varieties of bread will have different concentrations of these ingredients, as well as other additions. For example, multigrain bread might have grains like barley and flaxseed, while raisin bread will have raisins, sugar and cinnamon. Bread made in factories will also include ingredients that aid in preserving the product and extending its shelf life.
Combining the ingredients correctly is almost as important as what ingredients are added. Mixing involves the blending and hydration of dry ingredients and requires careful consideration of factors like air incorporation and gluten development. An over-mixed dough will result in hard, crumbly and dry bread. Under-mixing the dough will create a flat, dense loaf.
Rather than hand-kneading the dough, factories use special equipment to incorporate ingredients. The equipment speed, arm design and temperature are all important variables in dough formation.
Types of dough-mixing equipment in factories include:
While in the mixer, friction with the dough generates heat. Factories must carefully monitor and control the dough temperature to ensure consistent results and optimal flavor and rise. After mixing, the dough may need to rest for a time before moving on to the next stage.
Proofing and Rising
Proofing the dough encourages yeast growth and affects the flavor and aroma of bread. Yeast is a microorganism that feeds on glucose to produce ethanol and carbon dioxide. These gases expand in the dough, causing it to rise and create air pockets. The small holes seen in bread result from this chemical reaction.
Temperature is an important consideration in fermentation, as yeast thrives in warmer environments. Factories must maintain a good temperature balance to facilitate yeast growth without over-proofing the bread. Over-proofing can result in excess carbon dioxide production and an open crumb structure that does not suit certain types of bread.
Dividing and Baking
Specialized equipment divides the dough to prepare it for baking. It’s essential to apply as little pressure on the dough as possible, as too much stress can deflate the dough and negatively affect the final product.
Commercial bread ovens are large, high-powered machines that are equipped to handle higher production demands. They use convection or steam to bake bread rapidly, and some have rotating racks to ensure even baking. The temperature and baking time depend on the type of bread and the kind of oven.
Types of industrial bread ovens include:
Cooling and Slicing
After baking, the bread needs to cool. Like with most baked goods, bread will continue to cook for a short time after leaving the oven, so factories need to time the baking with this in mind. As the bread cools, the internal structure sets. Slicing the bread too soon after it exits the oven can result in a gummy texture.
Commercial facilities often have special cooling rooms to balance humidity levels so that any moisture from the cooling bread does not impact the product. Most factories pre-slice the bread to make it easier for consumers to use.
Factories with large-scale production will often use automated equipment to package bread products. After cooling, the bread will enter an assembly line with a machine that slices the bread and prepares it for packaging. The bread then moves down the line, where it is encased in plastic packaging and sealed.
The timing of bread distribution is important to ensure optimal freshness. Since bread has high-volume sales, many grocers can have bread delivered fresh. For stores that may be further from the distributor, factories can ship frozen bread to ensure it is as fresh as possible when it hits the shelf.
Quality Control for Commercial Bread Factories
All food and beverage facilities must adhere to strict quality control standards. There are also federal, state and local regulatory agencies that factories must remain in compliance with to ensure continued operations. In addition to complying with these regulations, Gold Medal Bakery has a Quality Control Department to ensure the quality of our bread. We adhere to strict standards throughout the entire preparation and baking process.
Why Buy Commercially Produced Bread?
The commercial bread production process follows roughly the same basic steps as regular bread-making, just on a larger scale. Here are a few reasons to buy commercially produced bread for your home or stock it on your store shelves:
- Consistency: Bread produced in a factory undergoes stringent monitoring and control. Commercial bakeries create the best product every time so the texture and taste will be the same in every slice.
- Freshness: Commercial bread factories use verified methods to keep bread fresh for longer, creating less food waste and ensuring a longer shelf life.
- Variety: Commercial bread comes in many special flavors and varieties, such as stoneground wheat, raisin bread, organic multigrain and many more.
Contact Gold Medal Bakery to Learn More About Our Production Process
Gold Medal Bakery is a family-owned and operated company that’s been producing the highest quality bread for over 100 years. We are a sesame-free and nut-free facility with a Brand Reputation through Compliance (BRC) certificate — a worldwide food safety certification.
To learn more about our products and production process, contact our team today.