Spatulas in hand. Ingredients weighed. Recipes- practically memorized and of course, ovens- hot. Knowing that the bi-annual COBS Bread Baking Competition is approaching, bakers in each bakery work to revise, improve, and perfect the product that is sold every day in the bakery. Consistent product at COBS Bread bakeries is an important part of our customer experience. For the most recent Baking Competitions held across Canada May this year, every bakery was required to bring a Higher Fibre loaf, a Mini Pizza (Cheese & Veggie) and a Traditional Hot Dog Bun.
While the competition is the most important part of these events, this also provides COBS Bread with rare opportunities- to see, face to face, bakers and franchise owners in one place at one time. To make the most of these bi-annual opportunities, a number of activities are planned to engage the attendees, share ideas, best practices, and more.
This May, COBS Bread is launching an all-new Focaccia, and we want all customers to get the opportunity to try it. What better way to inspire our bakeries than to host our own Gourmet Tasting station at the Baking Competition featuring a Focaccia Panini?
Highlighting the use of products that each bakery carries, Alannah grills delicious mushroom, pesto and parmesan paninis for all of our attendees to try. In doing so, we hope to highlight best practices for our bakeries to see and feel what they can easily replicate in their bakeries for their customers.
Training & Consistency
While everyone is busy enjoying gourmet treats, bakeries are delivering their bread to the judging stations where our Head Baker, Gillespie Award winners, Productions Managers and more are judging each product on the same criteria.
First, they look at the “External Features” of the products, which includes:
- Shape of the loaf or product – is it tall enough, wide enough, and evenly shaped?
- Colour – this indicates if it is under or over baked
- Crust Character – is it just right, or is it too thick?
Similarly, “Internal Features” are also judged, which include:
- Crumb structure – Are there holes in the product?
- Texture – This can tell a story about how long the bread was proofed, if the temperature was right, and if it was under or over-baked.
David VanRietschoten, COBS Bread’s Head Baker, delivers the results to everyone regarding how all the product scored. At this most recent competition, David commented how there was very little variance amongst the product that had been submitted by the bakeries, which is excellent from a product consistency standpoint.
As mentioned, these Baking Competitions provide a chance for franchisees, bakers and COBS Bread support employees in the region to meet face to face. This allows them to connect, share best practices and hear about what is going on in one another’s bakeries- in addition to bragging about their Baking Competition scores!
While bragging rights for the winning bakeries is always a bonus, all bakeries end up winners as the feedback from judges and learnings from the on-site workshops ensure that our bakeries are always baking the best bread!
Congratulations to this year’s winners! We’re looking forward to the next round of baking competitions in the fall.