So, just how big is baking?
Well, some estimates indicate that Americans eat approximately six million cakes each day. And according to the American Bakers Association, the U.S. bakery products industry employees close to two million people, accounts for over $300 billion in economic output, and makes up over two percent of our GDP.
Clearly, baking is a big business that’s important to consumers and vital to the health of our economy.
But just when did this obsession with baking begin? Humans have been doing very primitive forms of baking since the beginning of time, but historians claim that pastry chef became an occupation as far back as 300 B.C. when Romans developed a taste for sweet and decadent desserts. In that era of excess and celebration, being a successful pastry chef was a respected and highly-coveted position, which quickly helped baking’s popularity surge across Europe.
In the Middle Ages, baking had spread, but it was available primarily to the wealthy. Heavily-populated areas did have some commercial bakers, but those bakeries catered exclusively to well-to-do citizens. Consuming breads and cakes was commonplace for the elite few, but baking in the home was rare because wood-burning ovens and baking ingredients were quite expensive. So while the rich were able to indulge in luxurious cakes made in exotic colors and decorated with creative toppings, baking as a whole was still very much an exclusive industry.
By the 16th and 17th centuries, however, baking was becoming much more commercialized. The importing of spices, creams, butters, and other ingredients was giving bakers more options. At the same time, the boom of globalization was developing a solid middle class of people with more disposable income for things like cakes and pies. In this age, baking became more accessible, prompting people to record their recipes, create baking tools, attend cooking schools, and more readily enjoy the culinary arts.
The Industrial Revolution further surged the popularity of baking. Moving away from hand production and relying instead on new machines and gadgets, utilizing innovative manufacturing and production systems to improve efficiency, developing affordable ovens . . . these factors helped cake baking really take off. This period in history also saw more women flocking into the workforce. With women spending less time in the home, the need for convenience propelled pastries, pies, and other grab-and-go goods to a higher status.
Just as the modernization of machines and processes revolutionized the baking industry, electricity was also a game-changer.
Even before electricity actually existed, the Ancient Egyptians were intellectually curious about it. They knew that electric fish could shock them, a phenomenon also recorded later by the ancient Greeks and Romans. But it wasn’t until the Greek philosopher, Thales of Miletus, observed static electricity around 600 BCE that research into electricity really began. He believed that friction made amber rods magnetic, and although his theory was incorrect, he spearheaded a period of extensive research into electricity.
In 1600, English scientist William Gilbert dove deeper into the work of Thales. He discovered that naturally-magnetized minerals could attract objects after being rubbed, and he promptly published his detailed study of magnetism and electricity. Gilbert’s study encouraged more scholars to dig in deeper in the 17th and 18th centuries, culminating in the famous research of Benjamin Franklin. As the story goes, Franklin tied a metal key to his kite string, sent the kite soaring into a storm-filled sky, and discovered the electrical nature of lightening.
Electrical science in the first half of the 19th century took off. During that time, English scientist Michael Faraday studied electromagnetism and introduced the concept of the electric field. He determined that the electric field acts between two charges, either attracting or repelling. He concluded that a hollow conducting body carries all of its charge on its outer surface, which keeps the electric field at zero everywhere inside the body. Faraday’s work led to the operating principle that a conducting metal shell isolates its interior from outside electrical effects, a principle that opened the doors for a better understanding of electricity.
Faraday’s work amplified the progress of electrical engineering, and by the end of that same century, progressive innovators in the field were turning electricity into an essential element of modern life.
Not only was the rise of electricity critical to the baking industry, so was the development of different metals. Cookware and bakeware materials have a significant impact on thermal conductivity, performance, and cost – and the centuries of development in their materials have helped create the efficient, effective, and innovative modern baking industry we enjoy today.
For the United States, the evolution of metal in baking began with iron pots that were commonly used in the 17th century American colonies. The transition from iron to steel, stainless steel, and aluminum bakeware took place in the 19th and 20th centuries. Aluminum became especially popular with bakers, exploding into the market because it was lightweight, conducted heat well, resisted corrosion, and was commonly available in many forms.
Like aluminum, steel bakeware was useful because it could be coated with non-stick substances. The coatings made the bakeware easier to clean, but bakers found that steel could not be overheated or it would be more susceptible to damage. Stainless steel appealed to bakers because it was corrosion resistant, it didn’t react with acidic or alkaline foods, and it was strong enough to resist dents and scratches. Bakers did notice that stainless steel didn’t spread heat well, but that was remedied by combining it with aluminum or copper in bakeware.
Today, those innovations in metal help commercial baking facilities produce consistently high-quality products that look good, taste great, and bring consumers flocking back for more
The evolution of commercialization, the advent of electricity, and the innovation of different metals and materials have provided access to the most technologically-advanced baking industry of all time. But to remain competitive in such an innovative industry, you must protect the valuable automation, digital control systems, sanitation processes, and climate controls that keep you profitable, professional, and proficient.
The automation required in modern baking facilities is complex. From automated processes to warehouse automation, your food preparation is using innovative technologies to minimize product damage and maximize customer satisfaction.
The demand for processed food is growing the market and customers have many options at their fingertips, which means your bakery must offer product variations to stay competitive. Different flavors, toppings, and customized options have likely expanded your business, and quickly keeping up with these varied orders, maintaining efficiency, and simplifying operations has made the investment in automation necessary.
Sheeters and molders are particularly popular automated bakery processing equipment. Sheeters are durable rolling machines that constantly and accurately produce products like dough. They produce more product in less time while controlling the product quality while molding equipment improves the molding of things like muffins and loafs to improve efficiency.
Besides sheeting and molding, automation is also seen throughout the entire baking operation. For example, automated cake pan fillers deposit your batter, automated icing machines frost the tops and sides of your cakes, automated baking ovens produce finished products . . . automation complete with touch screens, computerized production speeds, and wireless features that let you monitor the process remotely has improved efficiency in bakeries throughout North America.
Your bakery is important to the overall economy and to your overall profitability, so it just makes sense that you’d protect your investment. Keep all of the automation that is so vitally critical to your baking operation’s success safe so you can keep moving product quickly and reliably down the line.
Digital control systems can really improve your baking by intelligently controlling the appliances, industrial processes, and applications within your facility. For example, digitally-controlled ovens can maintain temperatures and keep track of baking times and digital water meters can measure specified amounts of water and maintain consistent water temperatures for improved dough consistency. Refrigeration is another highly-controlled element in bakeries. Cold processes in modern baking help streamline the production process, and refrigeration control boards and digital controllers control temperatures to help you avoid costly product loss, improve your ease of operations, and bring your business greater productivity and profitability.
Wherever they are used in your facility, digital controls offer accuracy, flexibility, and speed as they optimize your production life cycle. They are also cost-effective, with advanced technology making controllers more economical every day. These digital control systems control so many important components throughout your baking facility, and keeping them protected keeps your processes moving smoothly.
Informed consumers demand that their baked goods be prepared in sanitary conditions, so clean and sanitized processing equipment is essential to manufacturing safe food products for consumers. Computer-controlled equipment, machines, and other components are commonly used throughout bakeries to clean and sanitize every single day. For example, conveyors help regulate the special dietary considerations that come into play with sanitation. More and more consumers are demanding organic, natural, nut-free products, and sanitary conveyors can help handle food products and safely move them throughout the production process. The conveyors help eliminate contamination, are easy to wash-down and maintain, and help maintain the highest sanitary standards in a facility.
Keeping your bakery clean for these conditions requires your processing and handling equipment to withstand frequent heavy wash-downs, and protecting your equipment and electronics in this moist environment is critical to operational efficiency.
The right climate control solutions can give your bakery an edge in preparing, storing, and consuming food. Climate control solutions can create and maintain ideal conditions within your facility. For example, climate controls can keep humidity levels and temperatures lower in storage areas. If those controls fail, however, your product can degrade, take on moisture, and promote mold growth. A lack of temperature control can affect shelf life and impact the bottom line. Too much humidity and your pie crusts could go soft. Not enough humidity, and your cakes could get dry. Climate control technology can help you regulate and monitor the conditions in your storage areas to avoid these types of wasteful situations.
Your baking facility must maintain ideal conditions for storing, preparing, and processing your goods. High quality conditions can bring high quality results, so keeping the integrity of your facility is key.
While the bulk of your business may take place within your factory, don’t forget about the importance of your support teams. The marketing, accounting, client service, and other vital business dealings for your organization take place within your facility’s office spaces. In today’s connected world, fully functioning Internet, Ethernet, WI-FI, and digital communications keep business moving. Protect your investment in these office systems like you’d protect the automation, control, and equipment throughout your baking facility.
In your offices, baking areas, storage spaces, and everywhere in between, innovation and modernization are at play. To keep your production and profitability moving full speed ahead, your investment in these sophisticated technologies that manufacture, package, distribute, and market your baked goods should be protected.
NEMACO™ produces top-quality electrical enclosures that you can use throughout your baking facility. One of our products, the stainless steel NEMA 4X water-resistant electrical control cabinet, reliably protects against solid objects and water. It can be integrated into your facility to keep your baking equipment and electronics clear of dirt, dust, leaks, and sanitation spray downs. The NEMA 4X is commonly produced in durable, high-quality stainless steel to resist corrosion, but can also be manufactured in fiberglass or plastic for smaller enclosures or in powder-coated carbon steel or aluminum for lighter-weight applications.
Don’t let unprotected electrical systems in your bakery bring production to a screeching halt. Contact our professional team of industry experts today to learn more about our wide variety of full-service enclosure solutions. Your success is our success, so let us put our years of experience to work for you.