What’s a Baking Competition?
On your mark, get set, BAKE! The COBS Bread Baking Competitions may not be all the bright lights and action you’d expect from watching baking shows on TV, but that doesn’t mean the competition isn’t fierce!
Twice a year, in the spring and fall, bakeries face off against each other at the COBS Bread Baking Competitions. Last fall, bakers prepared Higher Fibre Loaf, French Baguette, and Cheese Pullaparts to be judged. Each region competes amongst themselves to determine the best in each category and the best overall in the region.
Why do we have baking competitions?
The Baking Competitions are about more than competition. They are a chance for franchisees and their baking teams to get together to share knowledge, connect, learn about product development, and showcase their skilled bakers. It’s a great way to look at product from several bakeries at once, which allows us to review opportunities for product consistency across our network.
How does it all get baked in time?
The competition bread is prepared at each individual bakery, as part of the bakery’s daily run. The bakers arrive in the wee hours of the morning, just as they would on a regular day, and begin the process of filling the shelves with scratch-baked bread and fresh treats. The only difference with Baking Competition day is that one of each of the judged products is selected from the morning run to be brought to the Judging Room.
Leading up to the Baking Comp, bakers review recipes and training videos, and practice their techniques.
What is the judging criteria?
You’ll be surprised to know that taste is not one of the judging criteria. At the Baking Competitions, judges focus on the more technical side of baking, such as height, weight, crumb, crust, and smell.
For example, we take pride in being recognized for our traditionally made French Baguette which follows the method of the French Decree. So on competition day, we are looking for ‘scores’ on the top of the baguettes that resemble eyelids, an audible crunch when the baguette is squeezed, and a nutty smell which is caused by the natural fermentation process.
What else happens at a Bread Competition?
Along with sharing production tips and recognizing staff for service awards, we also have the Celebrate Fresh Challenge. For the Celebrate Fresh Challenge, we invite each bakery to bring in a unique creation which has the potential to be added to our product line. In the last round of Baking Competitions, we saw everything from Banana Cream Danishes, to Maple Bacon Rolls, and Bacon, Cheddar, Chive Scones – yes, we love bacon.
In each region, a winner is selected based on popular vote. Then our Product and Development Team reviews each winning recipe and evaluates how it may fit into our product line. If we think it will work at a bakery, the recipe goes into the testing phase. If customers love it and the baking team love making it, we launch it to all COBS Bread bakeries!
So, which bakeries won at the last round?
Here are the results from the Fall 2019 COBS Bread Baking Competition
Vancouver Island: Harris Green
BC Mainland: Ocean Park
Calgary Area: Centennial Village
Edmonton Area: Rutherford
Ontario: Upper Oakville
Stay tuned for more Baking Competition stories and even more about the Celebrate Fresh products!