In the Kitchen
The American Baking Institute Knows Pizza
Nothing is left out
Make sure you bring your appetite
Make sure you bring your appetite
|“Bring a big appetite for learning along with an appetite for pizza,” says 2004 PizzaFestiva champion Doug Ferriman.|
“Bring a big appetite for learning along with an appetite for pizza,” smiles 2004 PizzaFestiva champion Doug Ferriman. Ferriman was among the 20 or so other attendees who were totally blown away by the five-day course that is held annually at the institute’s Manhattan, Kansas, facility.
The seminar emphasizes the practical. Students with different degrees of experience are guided through hand-on exercises covering everything from dough processing options to testing the baking functions in a variety of ovens.
The seminars were led by AIB director and renowned dough expert Tom Lehmenn. The institute’s Jeff Zeak was also on hand throughout the week assisting Tom and instructing students. Between these two, no questions went unanswered.
Representatives from pizza industry suppliers also gave presentations and supplied a wide variety of products for use and experimentation in the kitchen labs.
|A session on tomato sauces let students compare products of different densities from a variety of suppliers.|
The value of the seminar week was in its all-encompassing approach.
Tom Lehmann kicked off the week with an introduction to trends in the pizza industry. According to Lehmann, we can look forward to seeing more nutritious pizzas in the near future, along with a trend to serving more pasta and salads.
Among the other trends Lehmann sees a “a strong and growing interest in ‘oven rising’ crust technology for application in pizzerias, kiosks and pizza trailer operations.”
Throughout the week these basic trends were referred to as Lehmann and Zeak explained, demonstrated and guided students through the principal crust types in the North American market.
Students learned about and prepared thick and thin-style crusts, including cracker–style, crispy-style, conventional-flat and deep-dish. Students also worked with chemically-leavened, yeast-leavened and combination-leavened crusts.
American Institute of Baking (AIB) is a non-profit research and
education institute. Courses first began in 1919, with the first class
graduating in 1922. It started in Minneapolis, then moved to Chicago,
and finally to Manhattan, Kansas.
AIB Contact Information
One of the more popular sections was the one on the function of ingredients.
In many cases, connections between ingredients and production processes were pointed out. For example, a lower protein flour is desirable when stamping or pressing your dough since there is less shrinkage.
The discussions and information were high-level throughout. Did you know, for example, that adding 5 to 15 per cent yellow corn meal to dough not only imparts a beautiful colour but also enhances chewiness without causing toughness.
The group looked at adding flavours and were introduced to other interesting options such as introducing sours, to help create a signature crust.
|Tom Lehmann kicked off the week with an introduction to trends in the pizza industry.|
A thorough discussion of dough additives also helped students become familiar with dough relaxers, strengtheners, mold inhibitors and emulsifiers.
Students used a variety of sheeters and presses and formed crusts by hand. They were also able to test and compare deck, conveyor, and infrared ovens in operation.
A variety of cheeses and toppings were also made available for students to experiment. A session on tomato sauces was presented, with students comparing products of different densities from a variety of suppliers.
In fact, virtually nothing was left out and all of the attendees were very impressed, happy and, of course, tired. Some of the students, like Doug Ferriman, were already accomplished pizza makers who were attending the seminar on scholarships provided by the California Milk Advisory Board. Others were novices or planning to get into the pizza industry.
No matter who they were they all learned. By the end of the week, everyone was tired, full of pizza and a whole lot more knowledgeable than they were on Monday.
The California Milk Advisory Board provides four AIB Pizza Production scholarships per year to the category winners in the PizzaFestiva competition held at PizzaExpo in Las Vegas. Says Ed Zimmerman of the advisory board, “California is the largest supplier of mozzarella cheese in the United States and we consider these scholarships our way of supporting the pizza industry.”