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Bakers Summit

Joash Ochieng: Flour Quality Matters

In the dynamic world of baking, where precision and artistry converge to create mouthwatering delights, one element stands as the cornerstone of it all – flour. Flour, that seemingly unassuming ingredient, is the essential canvas on which bakers craft their creations. It holds the power to transform ordinary ingredients into extraordinary delicacies, making it a critical component of any baker’s arsenal.

It was in this spirit that Joash Ochieng, Flour Specialist at Bakels East Africa, stepped onto the stage at the East Africa Bakers Summit held on June 26, 2023, at the Sarit Expo Centre. Armed with a wealth of knowledge and experience, Joash captivated the audience with a presentation that delved into the intricate world of flour quality and its significance in the baking industry.

Introducing himself, Joash highlighted his role at Bakels East Africa, a key player in the distribution of flour ingredients and bakery supplies across Kenya and the broader East African region. With a background that spans over seven years in the milling industry and experience as a quality assurance manager in the bakery sector, Joash’s expertise spans both worlds – from grain to dough to the final product.

As the presentation unfolded, Joash directed the spotlight toward the wheat flour value chain – an intricate journey from the farm to the mill, resulting in the creation of the cherished wheat flour. Understanding the origin of one’s flour is crucial, as it informs bakers of the raw materials that go into their craft.

But the journey did not stop there. Joash went on to explain the critical role that wheat grain plays in determining flour quality. The varieties of wheat grain – hard wheat and soft wheat – are central to the classification of flour. The protein content and gluten levels present in the grain dictate whether the flour is fit for bread, pastry, or other baked goods. It’s a fascinating interplay between science and artistry, where a baker’s choice of flour type directly impacts the outcome of their creations.

Protein content emerged as a key protagonist in the realm of flour quality. Joash meticulously elaborated on the categories of flour – all-purpose, baker’s flour, cake flour, and more – and their respective protein content ranges. Armed with this knowledge, bakers are empowered to demand consistent quality from their suppliers and choose the perfect flour for their intended creations.

Yet, the journey through flour quality didn’t end with classification. Joash unveiled the various parameters that define flour quality – from physiochemical characteristics like protein content and gluten strength to rheological properties and even microbial indicators. Each of these parameters contributes to the overall performance of flour in the baking process, affecting everything from dough formation to final product texture.

Joash’s presentation delved further, exploring the factors that influence wheat flour quality. Weather conditions, post-harvest processes, milling techniques, and even blending practices all play a role in shaping the characteristics of flour. It’s an intricate dance between nature and technology that, despite its challenges, can be managed with the right approach.

And the solution lies in the realm of flour correction or treatment. Joash unveiled a repertoire of tools at the disposal of bakers – single enzymes, specific chemicals, and cocktail improvers – that can transform a seemingly ordinary flour into a versatile ingredient capable of producing a wide range of baked goods. These enhancers provide bakers with the power to optimize costs, improve dough handling properties, and enhance the fermentation process.

In a world where consistency is king, Joash underscored the importance of using the right flour for the right product. He emphasized that a baker’s quest for excellence begins with demanding a Certificate of Analysis (COA) from suppliers for every batch of flour received. By aligning the internal quality standards of the bakery with the specifications of the flour, bakers can ensure the consistency of their creations and satisfy customer expectations.

Joash’s presentation concluded with a glimpse into the array of flour enhancers offered by Bakels East Africa. From home baking flour enzymes to solutions tailored for specific products like chapatis, mandazis, and biscuits, these improvers exemplify the fusion of science and innovation in modern baking.

As Joash stepped off the stage, his audience left with a renewed appreciation for the complex journey that culminates in the simple act of baking. The intricacies of flour quality, once unveiled, transform the baking process into a fascinating blend of chemistry, artistry, and skill. Armed with Joash’s insights, bakers are empowered to craft their masterpieces with greater precision, consistency, and creativity – all through the power of quality flour.

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