HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Precision and a dash of creativity are major ingredients to a good bottom line for frozen dough products, according to Jerry Laiso, technical service representative for Hazelwood Farms Bakeries, based here.
The product expert offered retailers production tips and other advice for working smarter with frozen dough in a workshop at the New England Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association's show and conference, held earlier this spring in Boston.
Laiso told attendees they can prevent profits from leaking out of their frozen dough operations because of ruined product by making sure equipment is calibrated. On the creative side, some simple enhancements of frozen dough products can result in items that command a higher retail price, which can push department margins up.
"One of the most important things is to know that your equipment is going to give you the product you want," he said. A proof box with too much moisture, for example, will cause a product to collapse, he explained. The product loss in that instance is obvious, but more subtle losses occur when oven temperatures are off, he added.
"I've seen people baking bread for 45 minutes to an hour because the oven wasn't the temperature that it indicated it was. When that happens, you're drying the product out as it bakes, so you've reduced its shelf life drastically," Laiso said. He suggested checking both oven temperatures and proof box moisture on a regular basis.
During the workshop, Laiso demonstrated how to make several different products out of one type of frozen dough.
"Nobody has freezer space for 20 or 30 different products, but you can make probably 10 different items out of one loaf of bread. You give the customer more variety to choose from and bring your gross profit up at the same time," he said.
Laiso also offered attendees some ideas on how to salvage over-proofed bread.
"You don't need to throw it away. You can rework it to make mozzarella cheese sticks. Cut the dough into sections, roll them in grated cheese, sprinkle them with garlic salt and add some parsley for appearance."
Even bread that you might think of throwing away can be salvaged and made into bread crumbs or croutons, Laiso pointed out.
"I'll grind up my stales and add garlic salt, parsley and cheese and sell it as store-made bread crumbs," he said.
Another idea for squeezing out more profits, he said, is making six two-ounce steak rolls out of a loaf of bread, which renders items at a higher aggregate retail price.
"It'll cost you 90 cents to make them and you can retail them for $2.29 a package," he said.
The manufacturer also urged attendees to let their creativity have free reign. Try things like making pastries out of a loaf of frozen dough bread, he suggested. "You'd never know it was bread once you put streusel and icing on it.
"You can make apple or cinnamon buns from it. Cut a 60-cent loaf of bread down the center, and cut the strips to get a couple dozen pieces in nothing flat. I've seen Danish strips made like that selling for great retails that bring at least a 79% margin," he said. Laiso also recommended making iced raisin rings out of raisin bread.
"You fan out the dough and put it into a tube pan, and then when it's baked, add some icing. You can do the same thing with cinnamon bread. Cut the dough into six pieces, put apple in them, and ice them up." What's more, the apple will lengthen the product's shelf life by keeping it moist, he said.