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Commercial Baking in America: From Its Roots to the Current Picture!

Commercial Baking in America: From Its Roots to the Current Picture!

The commercial baking industry in the United States, revolves around companies that primarily focus on manufacturing baked goods. Most of these goods consist of different types of bread, and generally include items like pastries, crackers, cookies, and cakes. Baking is related to the act of creating food like breads and cakes, through a preparation of batter, dough, etc., and then cooking it in an oven with dry heat. There are other foods, which are also baked and include pasta dishes, vegetables and meats.

The Background

The earliest known references to baking come from around 2600 B.C. and it was the Egyptians, who created the first baking technique. They were known for using leavening, which is using yeast to in bread to make the dough rise., The Egyptians also created the first ovens to bake the breads, and this technique to ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire in the 3rd century B.C. where it flourished and the first pastries came into existence.

Great pastry chefs were in high demand in 1 A.D. with reports stating that there were 300 pastry chefs in Rome at one time. The baking techniques spread from the Roman Empire to the rest of the world, and people in Asia and Europe started baking as well. In Europe, baking was done primarily by street merchants, who sold pancakes, gingerbread, and cakes.

The industrial revolution brought about the development of new machines, which catapulted baking into an industry that grew massively. Factories were built in the United States, which baked and transported goods through railroads. When the modern-day oven was invented, ingredients like good additives and preservatives were also used in baked goods with great success.

The commercial baking industry in the United States today contributes to over 600,000 jobs, and the industry brings in around $102 billion annually. The state of California is where the commercial baking industry is rampant, as it contributes to over 100,000 jobs, and more than 5 million in wages to workers in the industry. The American Bakers Association was formed in 1897, and was founded to become the ‘voice’ of the banking industry, which allowed it to help grow the baking industry.

The American Bakers Association is the top trade association in the United States, and is the number in the commercial baking industry. There are thousands of companies in the baking industry today, with a few major players, becoming huge global brands around the world.

The essential baking equipment used in the commercial bakery

When it comes to the baking equipment used in commercial baking, it has undergone plenty of changes throughout the years. We have tried to cover the 6-essential baking equipment that are found in commercial bakeries. These include the following:

Commercial baking ovens

There are plenty of options available when it comes to ovens, which generally depend on the type of baking you intend to do. There are different options in commercial baking ovens, which include:

1. Convection oven:

These ovens are ideal for individual cakes and loaves of bread. They have internal fans that circulate heat.

2. Rack oven:

This oven is great for baking racks of goods on top of one another. They are used in production bakeries that must bake a lot of cakes and cookies at the same time.

3. Stone deck oven:

These ovens are designed for artisan bakers, who want to bake in the old-school fashion. These ovens are great for baking crispy breads that are soft from the inside.

4. Revolution oven:

These ovens have trays inside, which revolve and help bake different goods at the same time. They are ideal for product bakers.

Dough mixer

The dough maker is another key equipment in baking, since it helps mix large quantities of dough easily. It ensures that you can mix more than 280 liters of dough at different speeds and sizes.

Dough sheeter

Also known as the dough roller, this is great for rolling out dough to a specific width, which allows greater ease in baking. It is great for making tart bases and pizzas, as it cuts down on the time, and makes your task easier.

Proofing cabinets

Every commercial bakery needs a proper proofing cabinet, because bakers know the importance of making the dough rise. Therefore, they must get a warm and humid temperature, which is what the proofing cabinet allows you to do to get the perfect dough.

Retarder unit

The retarder unit is great for slowing down the bread rising process. There is dough that need to be refrigerated before they are baked, and this requires cooler temperatures. Your refrigerator may be too cold for that, and the retarder unit helps you control the temperature to store your dough safely.

Bakery display case

You also need a bakery display case, where you can proudly display all your baking work, and preserve the baked goods. It is ideal for displaying cookies, cakes, breads, and desserts.

The ingredients used in commercial baking

When it comes to the ingredients used in commercial baking, you have a lot of options on hand, because you can create any type of pastry, cake, or bread you want. We have decided to only include the ingredients most commonly used in commercial baking:

Baking powder

Used as a raising agent, it is made of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar. The bicarbonate soda helps aerates the cake and releases carbon dioxide with added moisture, while the cream of tartar is an acid that activates the process. It is used in baking creamed cakes.

Bicarbonate of soda

You can buy it separately, but it needs an acid and moisture to activate. The common acids used with bicarbonate of soda are milk, buttermilk, and cream of tartar. It has a strong flavor, so must be used moderately, and is used in flavored cakes like ginger cake.


Butter is an essential ingredient in baking, especially if you are baking cakes. The flavor it imparts is distinct, which makes it ideal for creamed cakes, as it is beaten together with sugar to produce light cake.


Chocolate is always a good idea to be used in baking, and can be added into any baked goods. It is commonly used in a lot of recipes, and is a staple in commercial baking.


Cocoa is another staple used in commercial baking, and is found in most chocolate cake recipes. It adds an intense chocolate flavor, and doesn’t need to be melted. It is also used for filling cakes, and making chocolate butter cream for icing.


Eggs are another ingredient that are commonly used in commercial baking. They are needed to make cake batters, as they help bind all the ingredients together.


Self-rising and plain flour are another essential ingredient in commercial baking, and are integral to the entire baking process. Self-rising flour is made from plain flour, and if used in a recipe it will need a raising agent like bicarbonate of soda or baking powder to ensure a good rise.


Brown sugars, icing sugar, and caster sugar are all used popularly for cake making in commercial baking in the United States. They are commonly used in creamed cakes due to its ability to blend well, while icing sugar on the other hand is great for glace icing and buttercream. There are different varieties of brown sugars, dark or light, which add a distinct flavor to richly flavored and fruit cakes.


There are a lot of spices used commonly in commercial baking, which include nutmeg, ground ginger, ground mixed spice, and ground cinnamon.

Sunflower oil

Sunflower oil has a lot of great uses in commercial baking, and because it has a mild flavor it is ideal for use in cakes.

Vanilla extract

Vanilla extract is another commercial baking essential, and is made from vanilla beans. It is an ingredient that features commonly in baking recipes.

Black treacle

Black treacle is used in full-flavored bakes and in rich fruit cakes.

Candied peel

Candied peel is made from sugared citrus fruits, and is used in Florentine biscuits, panettone, and Christmas cakes.

Dried fruit

Dried fruit is commonly used in fruit cakes, and you can anything from raisins, to sultanas, to currants in these cakes to add more flavor to the recipe.

Golden syrup

Golden syrup is sweet and sticky, making it a staple addition to moisty sticky cakes.

Ground almonds

Ground almonds are used as a substitute for flour and are used in flour cake recipes. They produce moist cakes are a great addition for gluten-free options.


If you are making celebration cakes then smooth apricot ham is a staple addition, and are also used as fillings in a Victoria sandwich.

Lemons, limes, oranges

Lemons, limes, and oranges, are a great addition to recipes that want juice, since they make a great sugar syrup to be used for drizzling.


You can use a whole plethora of nuts, like flaked almonds, hazelnuts, pecans, walnut halves, and mixed chopped nuts in any recipe.


Used as a flour substitute, it is used in cakes with ingredients that are pleasantly textured, denser, and has a vibrant yellow color.

Release agents used in commercial baking

Release agents are chemicals used to stop other materials from bonding, and are used in processes that involve tire and web release, adhesive release, plastic release, die-cast release, and mold release. These release agents act as a barrier between the substrate and the molding surface, to help separate the mold from the cured part. There are a lot of different types of release agents used in commercial baking and we are going to cover the most common ones.

Releasing is one of the most important steps in baking, and it is imperative that you use the right release agent to ensure the quality of the finished product. Release agents are used to ensure that the baking environment is clean, and must be sprayed with great accuracy and precision. The most common release agents used in commercial baking today are:

  1. Trough grease

  2. Divider oil

  3. Bread pan oil

  4. Specialty release agent

  5. Pan grease

  6. Organic Release Agents

These release agents each serve their own specific purpose, and have different compositions, mainly between mineral oil and vegetable oil.

Vegetable Oil Used in Commercial Baking

There are a lot of different oils used in baking, but one that stands out is vegetable oil, which is the common ingredient in most recipes. It appears on a lot of lists, and is great for baking everything from layer cakes to pancakes, since they guarantee a tender and moist cake. You can use any kind of vegetable oil in baking, because they are all liquid fat, and have the same consistency, which will provide you with the perfect texture for your baked goods.

The kind of oil you use in baking is down to personal preference, but one of the main reasons why vegetable oil is considered as the best is because of its health benefits. It has a distinct flavor but it is also used in release agents, which allows you to easily bake any type of cake or baked goods you want. Vegetable oil also has a high smoke point, which makes it better for high temperature cooking.


Baking started in the middle ages, and was considered as a luxury that few could enjoy at one point. However, technology, and the changing of times have made baking into an everyday exercise that is practiced by everyone around the world. We bake daily, and whether commercially or at home, there is no denying that we will continue baking throughout the centuries.

There are a lot of different commercial baking staples that we haven’t covered in this post, as we tried to focus more on the essential ingredients, the equipment, and the general materials used in commercial baking in the United States.

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