President: Stefano ZANCAN - BAULI S.p.A., Secretary: Luca RAGAGLINI
Thanks to their carbohydrate content and nutritional value, baked products are ideal foods for breakfast, tea-time and an energy-boosting snack when doing sports, studying or working. The history of bread starts with primitive humans, who cooked a mixture of water and flour – obtained from the rudimentary grinding of cereals – on hot stones. It wasn’t long before cakes and biscuits were invented: the primary ingredients don’t change – flour, yeast, water – but according to the recipe, they are enriched with eggs, butter, sugar, jam, chocolate, hazelnuts, raisins, candied fruit, to name but a few.
Over time, each region and city has enriched the range of Italian baked goods with their own traditional recipes. The confectionery industry has reproduced these recipes, delivering products that offer all the guarantees of quality, hygiene and control to today’s consumer.
In 2017, Italy produced approximately 1,148,983 tonnes of baked goods, for a value of €5,358.7 million, with over 331,240 tonnes of exported products and a per capita consumption of approximately 15.64 kg. There are many types of baked goods and once again the manufacturing companies’ imagination is combined with a very strong drive for innovation.
The word “biscuit” derives from the medieval Latin “panis biscotus”, which means bread baked twice. Baking twice removes moisture and allows the product to be stored for a long time, which is why the biscuit was born as food for military supplies. A combination of nutrition and pleasure, biscuits are practical foods that lend themselves to countless interpretations and variations: crumbly (e.g. shortbread); soft (e.g. soft amaretti biscuits); spongy (e.g. madeleines); dry and light (e.g. classic Marie biscuits); crunchy (e.g. dry amaretti biscuits or cantuccini); fancy (e.g. cat’s tongues); biscuits designed to be used in other famous desserts (e.g. ladyfingers); biscuits dusted with icing sugar (e.g. canestrelli) or covered in chocolate; biscuits flavoured with vanilla or lemon.
Crackers are healthy and light because they are made with natural yeast and few added fats, and are an ideal substitute for bread. They are packaged in practical single-serving packs and produced in a wide variety of types and flavours (made with wholemeal flours, cereals, olive oil, not covered in salt, etc.). In Italy, the name “crackers” is reserved for baked goods obtained according to a precise production process, established by Presidential Decree 283/93.
Melba toast is ideal for breakfast and a snack, especially if spread with jam or chocolate spread. The fact that the slices are hygienic and practical to store, has made these products ideal for replacing regular toast, also from a nutritional point of view: the lightness of melba toast makes them suitable for everyone. In Italy, the name “fette biscottate” (Italian term for melba toast) is reserved for baked goods obtained according to a precise production process, established by Presidential Decree 283/93.
Festive Yeast-Leavened Cakes
These are Panettone, Pandoro and Colomba, traditional Italian festive cakes, but also true ambassadors of “Made in Italy” throughout the world, and now appreciated worldwide.
Panettone - Typically from Milan, this is the classic Italian Christmas cake. The product is particularly soft and fragrant thanks to the double leavening obtained with natural yeasts, the particular richness of the carefully selected ingredients, and a technological process that always respects tradition. Today the traditional product is flanked by a selection of “special” Panettone covered with gianduja, icing, almonds, or filled with zabaglione, hazelnut or liqueur creams.
Pandoro - Originally from Verona, this is a very simple cake consisting of a few selected ingredients: flour, sugar, butter, a lot of eggs (hence the typical golden colour) and cacao butter (which helps give it the typical aroma).
Colomba - The “Easter Colomba” is a baked yeast-leavened cake that resembles the shape of a dove. It is soft cake enriched with candied orange peel, covered with icing and decorated with almonds and granulated sugar.
Other specialties - Alongside the classic cakes created to celebrate religious festivals, in recent years producers have launched a wide range of “festive cakes”. These cakes, which mainly use sourdough as a base, have met with great success among consumers.
Merendine (Snack Cakes)
Merendine are small single-serving snack cakes made with sponge cake, puff pastry or shortcrust pastry, made according to the traditional recipes of typical Italian homemade cakes. In addition to guaranteeing constant food safety and process controls, today’s confectionery industry works closely with nutritionists to ensure that these products have an optimal nutritional composition and are increasingly in line with modern dietary needs, favouring simple recipes and enriching them with natural ingredients like fibre, yogurt and fruit.
“Ready-made cakes” sold in practical and hygienic multi-packs, offer consumers a rich selection of recipes, ranging from the most elegant classic cakes to the simpler, more genuine ones known in Italy as “torte della nonna” (grandma’s cakes). A quality choice for breakfast or a snack.
Temperature-Controlled Sweet Rolls and Cakes
In terms of size and prospects, the most interesting innovative segment in the sweet baked goods sector is that of sweet rolls and cakes that can be stored in temperature-controlled storage units. The main characteristic of these products, mainly intended for the catering industry (restaurants and bars), is that their freshness remains unaltered thanks to storage at a constant temperature of -20 °C.
Over the last few decades, the technological processes used in the production of biscuits have changed, especially as regards automation and safety: human intervention is minimal, while the good hygiene practices within the production line and the choice of raw materials guarantees the safety of the product.
The basic ingredient of biscuits is flour. In dry biscuits the recipe is completed with sugar and glucose syrup, butter or vegetable fat, salt, skimmed milk powder, raising agents and flavourings. The recipe for shortbread requires a higher percentage of fat and often eggs. Particular or aromatic ingredients -such as cacao, hazelnuts and other flours- can then be added to these basic ingredients.
In the case of dry biscuits, after the dough has been thoroughly mixed, it is rolled out by passing it through smooth rollers until the right thickness is obtained; it is then put into moulds that give the biscuit its shape. The dough for the shortbread, on the other hand, is not laminated, but shaped with a “rotary moulder”, i.e. pressed into the moulds that give the biscuits their shape, after which a scraper knife levels the surface. There are also more liquid mixtures, for example those for ladyfingers or amaretti biscuits, which are extruded, i.e. passed through die plates that give the product its shape, then wire-cut and placed directly in the oven. Finally, there are wafers and other “wafer” biscuits. In this case the liquid mixture is quickly dried on heated plates that give them their shape. For wafer biscuits, the wafers are layered with alternating layers of cream.
Crackers are baked goods obtained from the rapid cooking of one or more types of doughs, including yeast-leavened, made up of cereal flours, water and the possible addition of salt, sugars, oils and fats, malt, malted products, food bran and other ingredients, as well as authorised flavourings and additives. The crackers are obtained by moulding and their moisture content cannot exceed 7% of the weight of the finished product, with an average tolerance of 2%.
Once the basic dough has been made, it is divided into portions (“shaping”) to obtain the desired shape (that of a loaf). The loaves are left to rise, then they are baked until they acquire the classic colour we are all familiar with. The next stage is called “maturing”, in which the inside of the loaf is cooled and the moisture is distributed evenly, procedures necessary to make it ready for cutting. The slices are then toasted in another type of oven and at a different temperature from that they were baked at. Finally, the product is packaged: the packaging has the double function of protecting the product during transport and keeping them at their best. The moisture content of melba toast cannot exceed 7% of the weight of the finished product, with an average tolerance of 2%.
Panettone, Pandoro, Colomba
The processing of the natural yeast, which normally takes 15 hours, is rather laborious. For this reason, natural leavening was slowly abandoned and is now only used in Italy to produce Panettone, Pandoro and Colomba. The production process for these products is therefore very long: it takes a total of 35 hours to produce a fragrant, soft yeast-leavened product. The production processes are continuous and the different stages – the preparation of six doughs (three for the yeast and three for the doughs), dividing, rounding, leavening, baking, cooling and packaging – are timed exactly. The entire production process for yeast-leavened products is controlled at all stages by the manufacturing industries, especially from a hygiene-safety point of view. Regarding this important aspect, Italian confectionery industries follow the Guidelines defined by the Manual of Correct Hygiene Practice and the HACCP, prepared by AIDEPI and validated by the Ministry of Health.
A decree guarantees the “reserved designation”
AIDI, now merged into AIDEPI, has always protected the quality of the products that are part of the Italian confectionery tradition: in June 2003, the associated companies signed a good production practice specification for Panettone, Pandoro, Colomba, Savoiardo (ladyfingers) and both soft and dry Amaretto (amaretti biscuits). Since 22 July 2005, the quality of Panettone, Pandoro, Colomba, Savoiardo and Amaretto has been guaranteed by a Decree, jointly adopted by the Italian Ministry of Productive Activities and the Ministry of Agricultural Policies, which establishes the definition and composition of these typical baked goods that are part of Italian tradition. Based on this specific legislation, only products that comply with the product specification sanctioned by the Decree will be able to use the reserved designations Panettone, Pandoro, Colomba, Savoiardo and Amaretto.
The average amount of calories in biscuits fluctuates between 420 and 480 calories per 100 grammes (between 30 and 50 calories per biscuit, depending on the weight and characterising ingredients of each product). The protein content fluctuates between 7-9%, lipid content between 12-20% and carbohydrate content between 65-75%. Nutritionists recommend that 20% of the daily calorie intake be eaten at breakfast, and therefore between 30 to 50 grammes (between 130 to 220 calories in addition to other foods such as milk, jam, honey, etc.) of biscuits can be eaten at this time of day. It is preferable for diabetics to consume whole-grain biscuits that have a lower Glycemic Index than bread, cereals and other products.
Pandoro and Panettone
The calorie content per 100 grammes of Panettone and Pandoro, which are made with simple and natural ingredients such as wheat flour, eggs, sugar and butter, is slightly higher than that of 100 grammes of bread, while the distribution of calories between proteins, fats and carbohydrates is very close to the optimal recommended for the overall diet. The simultaneous presence of complex and simple carbohydrates provides the body with a slow and gradual supply of glucose, which meets immediate energy needs on an empty stomach or in between meals, and prolongs the intake in order to avoid both spikes in blood sugar and short-term hypoglycaemia. As well as the nutritional balance, these products are digested easily and rapidly and are assimilable, promoted by the natural leavening process.
Snack Cakes and Cakes
In the right quantity, jam tarts, small cakes, sponge cakes, sweet rolls and croissants can be enjoyed at any time of the day as a correct source of energy. A snack cake weighs between 30 and 50 grammes, and consequently the calorie intake and nutritional ingredients are quite low, between 119 calories for a sponge cake and 180 for a jam tart. One snack cake therefore covers 6 to 7% of the recommended daily calorie intake for children and young people. They also contain fair amounts of starches, sugars and fats, which in addition to giving the product the necessary consistency, makes them taste good. One snack cake contains approximately: 3 grammes of protein, 20 grammes of carbohydrates (half of which consists of simple sugars), 7 grammes of fat (of which on average 3 are saturated), significant amounts of iron, calcium and vitamins B1, B2, A and E. It is important to note that brand name snack cakes do not contain trans fatty acids because hydrogenated fats are not used to produce them.