How bread is made

Wheat
This is how a field of wheat looks like. White breads and all the other white bread products are made of wheat flour; high-quality wheat grown in Latvia is used for baking the delicious buns of Latvijas Maiznieks. When grains are ripe, they are harvested, threshed, drained, and milled into flour.

Rye
Field of rye. Black bread is bread made of coarse rye flour. Coarse wheat bread has been a part of Latvian cuisine for centuries, and still it is beloved by everyone. Various types of black bread appeared throughout the time: darker, lighter, sourer or sweeter breads. All you need to do is to try all of them and find out the right one for you!

What is bread made of?
The process of making bread starts with gathering the ingredients (flour, sugar, whole milk powder, yeast, malt, cumin, salt, etc.) and storing them in storage. Perhaps you have seen specialised lorries with a name of milling works on them – they carry flour that various breads later are made of. From the tanks of the lorries flour is sucked into containers situated in a separate room which looks like a tower.

Other ingredients are shelved in the storage area. Each ingredient has its own place. 
Sugar, salt, dry whole milk powder, yeast, shortening, etc. (depending on the recipe) are waiting here for the moment of becoming a part of batter.

Latvijas Maiznieksoffers a wide range of white and black breads. All the manufacturing processes are automatized and monitored; there is a non-stop transition from one stage to another.

Let’s go on a virtual tour to the bakery of Latvijas Maiznieks to witness the mouth-watering manufacturing process with our own eyes.

Making white bread dough
Although our grand-grandmothers could afford to put white bread on the table only on special occasions, we can enjoy this delicious bread, fresh and tasty, every day. Nowhere else on the earth is bread as toothsome as in Latvia. Just smell a loaf of bread Zeltene, do you feel how nice it smells? However, the life of bread starts in a pot of bread dough.

Each sort of bread has its own recipe where all the necessary components and their sequence of adding are specified. Nowadays this process is automatized.  White wheat flour of the best quality, drinking water, bread yeast, a bit of sugar and shortening are used to produce white bread, salt is added for the taste as well as dry whole milk powder which improves the taste and aroma of bread.

When looking carefully, a special system of pipelines can be seen at the bakery. These are the pipelines through which the components are transported to the place where the bread dough is made, ensuring that no unnecessary ingredients are added. When all the components needed are placed in the pot, kneading of bread dough can take place.

Special dough kneading machine, equipped with a powerful double spiral, is used in order to knead white wheat bread. Wheat dough is intensively kneaded: form the start at low speed while the ingredients are mixing together, then the machine switches to much faster regime. The dough is ready in 5 minutes.

Then with the help of a conveyor belt the dough is transported to the next place where it is proportioned. A special machine, called a divider, divides the dough into pieces of a certain weight, yet at this moment they are not the loaves of bread we usually see in shops – they are just still chunks of dough.

Next these pieces are transported from the divider to a cone-shaped machine which forms them into a rounded shape. Each chunk transforms into a little “sphere”. These beautiful and rounded spheres of dough are taken to the primary fermentation for a specific rest period of nine minutes. Then the rested spheres give place to others and proceed to the next stage where they are formed in a longish oval shape. The spheres are kneaded flat and then rolled up in a roll, for some time the dough moves along the belt which helps them to form the proper shape.       

The next step is the final fermentation. With the help of a special machine loaves are arranged in rows in a special-purpose cabinet with warm temperature and humid air. These are the conditions necessary for yeast cells to wake up and start the fermentation process. During the fermentation, the size of the dough increases up to three times. This is how bread becomes fluffy and spongy. 

After 50 minutes of fermentation, bread loaves slowly move along the belt towards an oven.

For better results, prior to baking the surface of bread is carved with special knives so that it acquires the necessary shape of its type.

Baking white bread
White bread is baked in a tunnel-shaped oven. At the beginning of the baking process, loaves must be provided with lots of vapour. It helps to heat the dough much faster, in order to increase the size of the dough so that the loaves are soft and puffy.

The baking time is not too long, already after 18–19 minutes the golden loaves with a crunchy crust are ready to be taken out of the oven. After a moment the hot aromatic loaves of bread are transported to the cooling tower. It is a special place where the loaves are gradually cooled. At the cooling tower bread is moved upwards and downwards for hour and a half, and then proceeds to slicing and packing.

Rye bread
Rye bread baking is real art – it is a complex and time consuming process which requires accuracy and close attention. Each baker has its own secret tricks that make their rye bread special and extraordinary. Latvijas Maiznieks bakes its bread according to various recipes, following the advice of master bakers and ancient bakery secrets. Try and compare the two types of black bread, Zeltene and Godu, both of which are delicious, but the taste is totally different! This is achieved by modifying the proportion of parboiled flour and yeast, and by varying the fermentation temperature.

The main ingredients of rye bread are flour, yeast, malt, water, cumin and salt.

Parboiled flour and yeast
Parboiled flour and yeast are traditionally used to bake rye bread. The procedure of preparing parboiled flour and yeast is the most important stage in the baking process.

Yeast and parboiled flour affect the taste of bread. The taste of rye flour bread can be mildly sour-sweet or sour. Yeast is a system of microorganisms, lactic acid and ferments which make the rye flour dough lighter. Qualitative rye flour, water and pure culture are necessary to form the yeast. The quality of the yeast is influenced by the duration of its creating, temperature, and consistency. To create the yeast in large amounts there is a need for special equipment that carry out such activities as pumping, weighing, mixing, providing fermentation process and  the necessary temperature. Good yeast can be described as “alive” – at first with small bursting bubbles moving in it, later on the yeast “calms down,” matures and becomes still. Yeast which is good and ready to bake has a dizzy but pleasantly sour aroma. 
 

The second most essential component of rye bread is parboiled flour. It gives to bread a pleasant taste and aroma, as well as prolongs its shelf-life. In order to create parboiled flour, part of flour, malt and cumin have to be poured with hot water and mixed well until homogeneous.  Right after the parboiled flour is ready, it has to be crystallised. During the first few hours after the parboiled flour is made, the starch starts to break up into sugars and the amount of sugar increases. Parboiled flour becomes sweet. To accelerate the process, parboiled flour is cooled in special barrels equipped with a cooling system.

 

The two main ingredients which are prepared separately experience obvious transformation: changing their shape, colour and aroma. However, it is only the beginning. Yeast and parboiled flour meet when the dough kneading takes place. According to a recipe the necessary amounts of both components are transported to the next section where the dough will be kneaded.  Flour, salt, sugar and other ingredients are added to the initial two components when making the black bread dough. Kneading dough for rye bread is comparatively easy.  After kneading the yeast dough must be left to rise. Duration of a rise for the rye dough is approximately 45–60 minutes; this stage is very important, since the dough lightens during the process. If not left to rise, bread would not be puffy and spongy, on the other hand – it would be dense and flat.

The risen dough can then move forward to be divided and shaped.

Rye dough is moist and sticky. A special machine is used to divide rye dough. With a little help of another special machine a proper shape of a loaf is acquired. This is how loaves of bread become beautifully oval-shaped. During the dividing and shaping process, part of the gases are forced out of the dough, therefore prior to bake the dough it has to be left to rise again. The oval-shaped loaves of bread are transported along the conveyor belt to the machine where each of them is placed in a special baking pan and put in a proofing cabinet. The proofing cabinet is warm and humid, here the dough rises for the second time and increases in size.

Rye bread baking
After being taken out of the proofing cabinet, pieces of dough are automatically placed onto the floor of the oven.

Rye bread requires a higher temperature and longer baking time than white bread. After approximately 40 minutes of baking, dark brown loaves of bread have finished their hot “journey”. During this time amazing changes take place – the moist, sticky and greyish dough changes into tasty and aromatic bread with a crunchy crust and a glossy brown surface.

In a moment, the beautiful loaves of bread will be transported to the cooling tower. The cooling time for rye bread is 4 hours. All this time the loaves of bread are resting on shelves in the tower, moving upwards and downwards to gradually cool down.

Similarly to white bread, cooled rye bread is also transported to slicing and packing. The sliced and packaged bread is placed into boxes and moved to the storage for dispatching. Each loaf of bread has its own place. This is where bread starts its journey – it is transported to shops all around Latvia, and afterwards travels to our homes.