How to assess the appearance in crusty bread?

25 Sep How to assess the appearance in crusty bread?

We shine the spotlight on the first factor considered when tasting bread: the APPEARANCE of a crusty loaf.
The appearance of a loaf made with molasses and red beetroot : rustic appearance – golden, resilient crumb – grey, pinkish crumb

A vital tool for bakery professionals, sensory analysis consists in having a panel of experts and consumers highlight and describe the organoleptic properties (appearance, smell, sound, texture, taste) of a loaf of bread. 

The “appearance” factor in sensory analysis

 

Sensory analysis, a tool for the bread industry

Renowned for their sensory expertise, Lempa and Lesaffre have jointly developed a lexicon of precise sensory descriptors adapted to crusty bread. Used by large and medium-sized supermarkets, industrial and craft bakers in their marketing, R&D and Quality initiatives, the tool helps reconcile two approaches: the more subjective viewpoint of (non-technical) consumers, and the more objective angle of the experts (specifically trained). Where the appearance of a crusty loaf is concerned, the assessment is conducted in 3 stages: the appearance of the whole loaf, the appearance of the crust, and to conclude a study of the crumb of a single slice.

The importance of “appearance”

A shared experience from Arnaud JACQUES, Technician Baker at LEMPA.

“The external appearance of a loaf of bread is a very important sensory criterion to which the baker must pay careful heed in the bakery and the store. When I conduct tests on bakery goods and I have to rate the products, a crust can lose points based on visual defects such as the presence of blisters, a black, flaky crust, lack of volume, irregular score marks, few air-holes, etc… In a store, visual marketing should not be overlooked, as it is the most influential factor: 80% of the information a consumer receives is through the sense of sight. Bakers must pay particular attention to visual stimuli (colour, shape, etc…). It is especially important for them to take care over the appearance of their bread, since this is what the customer first sees and what will trigger the buying act.”

Sensory analysis in crusty loaves

 

The general appearance of a crusty loaf

Experts assess a loaf by the following

  • an even shape,
  • a symmetrical cross-section,
  • an even colour
  • oven-spring
  • depth of scoring
  • colour intensity

…and consumers by:

    • an aesthetic, well-formed, even shape
    • flat shape, or caved-in sides
    • well-risen, voluminous, sunken or with oven-spring
    • a traditional, or industrial appearance
    • burnt or undercooked, too pale or too dark
    • a good, even colour
    • an appetising, attractive appearance

 

 

The appearance of the crust

Experts assess a loaf by the following

  • the colour of the crust (orangey, brown)
  • the thickness of the crust
  • the matt, or glossy appearance
  • the density of the blisters

…and consumers by:

    • a white, pale, blonde, golden, brown, black crust
    • the thickness of the crust
    • a dull, glossy, fatty appearance
    • irregularities, a pitted appearance, blisters, golden spots, rough surface…

 

 

The appearance of the crumb

Experts assess a loaf by the following

  • the colour of the crumb (beige, grey, orange)
  • the intensity of the colour from pale to dark
  • the evenness of the colour
  • the presence or absence of inclusions
  • the size, depth or evenness of air-holes
  • a matt, or glossy appearance

…and consumers by:

  • an unappealing, or good colour (white, cream, yellow, grey, brown, etc…)
  • lack of colour, too pale or too dark
  • “wholemeal type” appearance, patchy, spotted
  • dense, compact, fine, or light, open, aerated crumb
  • small or large air-holes
  • a dense crumb, air bubbles, holes
  • a dry, sticky, or under-baked appearance

A sensory lexicon for the “appearance” of a crusty loaf

The descriptors most commonly used by experts: colour, intensity, development, colour of crust, blisters, inclusions, scoring, air-holes, glossy.

The terms most spontaneously cited by consumers: golden colour, good appearance, nice colour, well risen, plump, light crumb, holes, caved-in sides, good size, airy crumb, well baked, cream colour.

For bakery professionals, sensory analysis is not only a fundamental aspect in product assessment, but also a communication tool increasingly aimed at consumers. 

Discover other aspects of the sensory analysis of crusty loaves in our feature: SENSORY ANALYSIS: tastetexturesmellsound of a crusty loaf.

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