Sensorial analysis

Giving meaning to your creations

As a pioneer in deciphering the language of bread, Lesaffre has real expertise in sensorial analysis. In 2009, over 50 French and foreign bakery professionals called on the services of the Sensorial Analysis Centre that forms part of Baking Center™.

 

At the last Europain Show, Lesaffre devised on its stand an original attraction based on sensorial analysis. The idea was to propose a tasting test based around 3 highly topical themes: softness, sourdough (levain) and finally reduced salt. Almost 280 bakers played the game and discovered a tool that aroused their gustatory emotions. A chance to push the boundaries of the simple act of tasting…

Aromas, flavours and the texture of bread are now the main quality criteria for the consumer. Being able to perceive, identify and describe the sensations experienced during tasting is vital to the successful development of your products.
In addition to its know-how in the fields of fermentation and bread-making, and its knowledge of consumer habits in the different countries of the world, today Lesaffre has genuine expertise in the sensorial field.

 

An integral part of Baking Center™, the Sensorial Analysis Centre has a dedicated laboratory that complies with Afnor standards, equipped with eight tasting cubicles and specialist statistical software. Through the use of sensorial analysis, bakers can now measure to what extent the ingredients, and chiefly their know-how, influence the sensorial characteristics of their loaves.


Make your bread talk

Did you know that we all have the potential to taste properly? We just need to educate our taste buds and, above all, take the time to savour what we eat by putting all our senses on the alert: smell, touch, sight, hearing and taste. This training in tasting and making bread talk is one of the key factors in producing a successful sensorial photograph of a product. That is why, in 2003, the Baking Center formed two expert panels – "texture" and "taste" – capable of characterising, describing and expressing the sensorial profile of bread products (baguette, sandwich loaf, brioche, leavened bread, pizza, doughnut…) based on appropriate vocabulary. What is the purpose of this?

  • To help you communicate about the taste and texture characteristics of your products. Why not explain to your sandwich-loving customer that your sandwich loaf will be ideal, due to its soft, supple texture and its hint of cereal?
  • To enable you to develop new products or improve the recipe of a particular loaf or brioche. For example, by discussing your customers' tastes and preferences with them, you will then be able to make changes to your recipes, test a new sourdough, offer softer rolls…
  • To position you in relation to a new competitor and even bring you closer to a target product on your market. For example, why not offer children a teatime snack almost identical to the leading products on this market?
  • To help you identify superfluous elements, evidence of a slide (ingredients, process, staff…)

All these ideas show how useful it is these days to make your senses talk in your bakery.

 

The language of bread

It's hard to find the right word for each gustatory perception. Try, for example, to describe the perceived differences between a normal sugar-based coke and a coke containing sweeteners. Everyone will have their own words based on their individual perception and their own experience. For an expert panel to be reliable, it must be able to:

  • evaluate the quality and intensity of the perceived sensations,
  • describe the sensations with a specially-constructed vocabulary;
  • link these perceptions to known references.


"At Lesaffre, we have established a detailed lexicon for sensorial analysis according to several defined areas, such as bread, Viennese pastries and pizzas", explains Camille Dupuy, in charge of the Sensorial Analysis laboratory. It is possible to make a clear distinction between textures: sticky, spongy, honeycombed, crumbly. For bread, the expert "taste" panel is based on fifteen descriptions (smells and aromas), which you can also use (see Exercise 1). There is nothing to prevent you from expanding this vocabulary with your own language and adding new descriptions, such as honey aroma, spicy smells, fruity notes…

 

You need to practise

By exploiting his creativity, as well as taking advantage of bread-making ingredients and methods, the baker becomes a major player in influencing the taste and texture of his products. What if, tomorrow, a new customer asked you to choose the best bread to accompany a spicy dish? Would you be able to explain your choice with convincing terms? It's worth being prepared… In this spirit, every day every baker should taste each type of bread, brioche, Viennese pastry…. In the first instance to check that the quality is consistent, then with the aim of gradually improving his approach and that of his salespeople, with successive tastings. Indeed, to improve your perception of tastes and textures, you need to practise.

Your senses can become effective measurement tools, memorising very accurately the sensations linked to various foods. To optimise this tasting, you need to identify in order the observations on appearance, texture, smells, aromas and, finally, flavours (see the definitions and how to taste a bread product). To make it easier to remember the chosen descriptions, you can prepare a whole palette of references (bran, yeast, grilled hazelnut, a cracker biscuit…).

For example, to find the smell and aroma of "white flour" or "rye", it is better to mix the corresponding flours with a little water, then smell and taste the mixture.


Your brain naturally performs an enormous sensorial memorising task.

In the shop, encourage your customers to use their imagination with two or three descriptions of your key products pinned up in the bakery. "With its crisp, golden crust, its generous slash, this bread produced by your baker will appeal to you with its delicate rye aroma set off by a touch of sourdough. You can use its fine, supple honeycombed texture to make toast for enjoying delicacies such as smoked salmon…".

 

Now it's up to you!

Long ignored, the sensorial evaluation of food now has its own scientific methodology and is attracting increasing interest from bread-making professionals with a vital objective: finding bread that corresponds to consumers' taste.
This discipline is open to all and of course Baking Center™ is at your disposal and happy to help you master its methodology.

 

What about texture, aromas, smells, flavours…

Definitions:

  • Appearance: the colour of the bread and the structure of the honeycomb/flakiness.
  • Texture: the product's behaviour following a mechanical action (touching, chewing…). You can appreciate the texture of the inside (elastic/gummy, supple/brittle, hard/flexible…) and the texture of the crust.
  • Smell: the sense of smell perceived by the olfactory system.
  • Aroma: a smell ingested through the back of the nose. It comes from volatile odours released by chewing.
  • Flavour: perceived by the gustatory system via receptors or taste buds situated on the tongue. The 5 flavours are sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami (flavour corresponding to monosodium glutamate).

 

How to taste a bread product?

Here are a few tips to improve your perception:

Firstly, do not smoke or eat a strong-flavoured food before the tasting session. Secondly, it is advisable to rinse your mouth as often as possible between each stage and to follow the steps suggested below.

 

  1. Appearance : Observe the surface of the bread, look at its colour and honeycombing
  2. Texture : Delicately press on the inside of the bread, gently break the crust
  3. Smell : Open the bread and smell the centre: maximum of smells
  4. Aroma : Slowly chew the bread, letting as many volatile aromas as possible released during the chewing rise into the back of the nose
  5. Flavour : It all happens on the tongue.
    Differentiate : prickling, salivation… that correspond to the different flavours

 

Exercise 1 – Bread Aroma/Smell Descriptions


Taste and smell 3 of your bread products. Remember to rinse your mouth with water between each product tasting. Try to find some of the descriptions mentioned here:

Smell and aromas:

  • white flour
  • yeast/fermentation
  • hazelnut
  • rye
  • acetic vinegar
  • milky/buttery
  • brioche
  • cereals/bran
  • crackers crust
  • grilled/caramel crust
  • (sourdough) levain
  • ripe wheat: slightly sweet cereal note
  • roasted malt

 

Exercise 2 – Familiarise yourself with the textures


Take 3 everyday foods (e.g.: a biscuit, a doughnut, a chocolate). Look for a few descriptions characteristic of each of these products, to touch and in the mouth.

Descriptions in the mouth:

  • crunchy
  • melting
  • sticky
  • hard to chew
  • crisp

Descriptions to touch:

  • flexible
  • supple
  • elastic
  • crisp
  • crumbly
  • plastic/gummy
  • crunchy