Tip of the Week: A Look Into Our Labs

AIB International, located in America's heartland is home to eight unique labs that are the heartbeat of the company since the facility was built in 1978.

Inside the Sweet Goods Lab students produce cakes, cookies, rolls, doughnuts, pies, and endless amounts of baked goods. The flexible space is used to produce and study the wide variety of products that don’t fall into the breads and rolls category. It’s designed to give students a hands-on learning experience to connect the theory discussed in class with real life applications.

In a typical seminar, as many as eight mixing benches with anywhere from 10 to 30 participants will be in the lab at any given time. The space allows flexibility to move equipment around to accommodate. For example, students might make up sweet dough products by hand in the morning and use an automated line for sweet dough sheeting and make up in the afternoon.

“We give our clients an up close understanding of the batter or dough and help them translate that to how the product performs on a larger scale”, Alison Bjerke-Harvey, Baking Professional at AIB said.

Bjerke-Harvey also gave her expert advice on one of the fundamentals of baking. In the Sweet Goods Lab we examine how to identify the source of product faults caused by processes or ingredients. In our Foundations: Batter Cakes course, we run a series of bake tests looking at high, moderate, and low levels of each ingredient. As a group we assess and score the product from batter to finished cake to look at how the ingredient influences the product each step of the way. Using this method, we help students fully understand how ingredients function and interact, and give them the confidence to make substitutions for cost reduction or quality and to troubleshoot ingredient or formulation issues they may be struggling with. During a seminar, every bench is usually mixing a formulation so that students can see the differences the next day in the score class.

The Sweet Goods Lab is well-equipped, thanks to the great support of equipment companies. The Lab features a continuous mixer and depositors for batter products, sheeting equipment for sweet and laminated doughs, cake and yeast-raised doughnut equipment, as well as multiple ovens to allow students to look at variations in the baking process.

“Our incredible and knowledgeable staff of technicians keep the labs running smoothly to help our clients get the most out of their experience here.” Bjerke-Harvey said.

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