As delis and restaurants up their game, specialty bread and rolls are soaring in popularity. Take brioche, which is commonly found in nearly every quick-service restaurant (Q.S.R.). The word is out: Charging a higher price for a sandwich requires an upscale touch.

Most brioche buns and rolls only resemble the French version. Specifically, the American-style alternatives are designed to carry big, juicy burgers.

“If you are making an authentic French brioche, it is very rich in butter and eggs, which make it much more difficult to mass produce,” noted Craig Kominiak, sales consultant, Erika Record Baking Equipment.

“While still possible to mass produce, traditional brioche requires significant planning,” he added. “In addition, you are limited to the various machines you can use. We have found a traditional divider/rounder with a modified process works best for this method. Likewise, there has also been a rise in brioche-style buns. While the dough is still enriched with eggs and butter, the recipe is modified to ensure the dough maintains a similar consistency to typical bread dough. This makes it much easier to mass-produce and broadens your scope of available equipment options.”

Specialty products’ inherent nature require a totally different approach than conventional ones, said Jay Fernandez, Bakery Innovation Center manager, Middleby Bakery Group. He suggested making brioche with gentler extrusion dividers and polymer screws than those used for hamburger buns. “The temperature of dough and mixing is critical, especially when using butter since it is added at a later stage and can impact hydration,” he explained. “For an artisan look, many bakers are using premium egg wash substitutes or similar glazes using automatic sprayers like the Burford spray applicator. Also important is gentle handling of pans prior to baking to ensure a premium finished product.”

Related ReadingSpecialty products offer other challenges. “Hamburger buns — or any conventional breads — are processed with high force through degassing dividers and generally a very short process time from mix through proof and bake,” observed Nick Magistrelli, vice-president of sales, Rademaker USA. “A premium bread will be from a highly hydrated dough with a long pre-fermentation or rest period prior to initial processing.”

Even intermediate proofing is totally different with specialty items.“Premium products need longer intermediate proofing times than high-speed bread or buns, which get 2 to 4 minutes compared with 8 to 13 minutes for premium or specialty products,” said Damian Morabito, president, Topos Mondial. “You also need to check the intermediate proofer and ask, ‘Is it easy to clean and maintain, and is it reliable?’”

In fact, many straight doughs on high-speed lines don’t even need an intermediate proof. The process becomes completely different with upscale items. “If you get into rolls with higher hydration, floor time between mixing and dividing/rounding or use a starter such as poolish or biga, you create a dough that is much more difficult to process,” said Bruce Gingrich, vice-president of sales, WP Bakery Group USA. “It creates a dough that is softer and stickier.”

Overall, WP considers all aspects of the process from ingredients to the finished piece for making high-end products. “Over the years, WP has developed sophisticated dividing techniques for bread and roll production along with makeup modules to target the product quality customers need,” said Patricia Kennedy, president and chief executive officer of WP Bakery Group USA.

This article is an excerpt from the November issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on bread, bun and roll tech, click here.