My post today might make you look at that humble loaf of bread on your breakfast table with a little more awareness and a lot more respect.
This staple breakfast food of people across the world represents a baking tradition that is many centuries old. The baker with his wooden peel, rolling pin, flour scoops, etc. has remained steadfast follower of an age-old practice: the exact proportion of flour, water, yeast and salt, kneaded into dough of the required consistency, which is then placed into greased trays that are slid dextrously into an oven for the right amount of time. But what happens when bread is mass produced?
What happens when the baker’s dozen multiplies into a quantum weighing many kilos, or even tonnes, to reach hundreds of thousands of consumers? What happens when human hands are replaced by machines? Would the bread still have the same nourishing qualities and taste?
I found the answers to these questions long ago, in the mid 90s, when I was just a school-going boy. On that particular day I was spending time at dad’s office because school was closed for Christmas. A business enquiry by a Parsi gentleman, a bakery owner, gave me my first exposure to the bakery business. The Parsi gentleman named Mr KC (‘Kersy’ perhaps) was meeting with Mr Kumar, our production manager at the time.
The baker said he planned to expand business and would soon install machines that could produce greater quantities of bread and cookies. He wanted mineral oil suitable for greasing the dough maker and other machine parts. He was very particular and wanted only the finest food grade oil.
In the late-90s Gandhar was already manufacturing a range of speciality oils and supplying regularly to customers in the food industry. Yet Mr Kumar said he would consult R&D and revert in a few days.
Mr KC’s inquiry led to the development of a few more grades of highly refined white mineral oil specifically for use in bakeries. The oil is colourless, odourless and tasteless and perfect as a release agent in bakery equipment. When applied in various equipment such as roll-maker, multi-pocket dough divider, and machines for cutting, bun making, etc. this oil comes in minimal micro touch contact and is 100% safe for human consumption with NSF and FDA approvals. It serves the dual purpose of preventing the dough from sticking to the metal pockets and also preventing rust.
This Divyol Speciality Mineral Oil is now widely accepted and used by leading brands of breads, cakes, biscuits, cookies, etc. It has bridged the gap, sometimes hundreds of kilometres, between the manufacturer and the consumer. It has helped maintain consistency in quality and taste despite being mass produced.
It has become so much a part of the food processing industry that many of the packed foods we consume would simply not exist without it.
With regard to manufacturing bakery products, I see it as helping to sustain the celebrated tradition of baking, and also bringing you your trusted bread.