Even if you don’t arrive with a sweet tooth or a carb addiction, you’re sure to leave with one, because you’ll find yeast, sugar, butter and flavorings in almost every aisle of the massive North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center when the International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE) filled it from October 6-8, 2013.
Almost Too Gorgeous to Eat...Almost.
ALL PHOTOS COURTESY OF STEPHEN THORBURN
There were giant stainless steel machines that could wrap loaves of freshly baked bread and box them by the dozens. Others made that $300 Kitchen Aid mixer you’re so proud of look like a miniature toy. Still others controlled the flow of an irresistible ooze of icing and chocolate, creating decadent rivers that even non-swimmers would want to dive into.
Conveyor Belt of Baked Goods
There were edible bling sparkles for cake decorations and fondant figurines from Disney to Star Wars and back again. Frosted cupcakes sported mountains of fancy, piped frosting like edible hats. Buckets of sugar and colorful sprinkles were simply part of the tools of the IBIE trade. There were samples to die for – and from. One company was even named Comas.
Sampling all that could cause a few.
Picture Perfect Promotion
If you could bake it, you could find it (and usually eat it) at IBIE, as vendors hawked the latest technology in manufacturing, product development, flavor, storage, packaging, and decoration. Gluten free offerings were plentiful and just as addictive as their wheat-filled counterparts.
Gelato, slushes and soft-serve ice cream and frozen yogurt managed to sneak on to the premises (on one was complaining) to offer attendees a multi-colored, sometimes syrup-drenched confection that showed off the machinery that could make such a gastronomic treat possible.
Shapers and extruders demonstrated mechanized precision with modeling dough and hair gel, so the hot pink cookies and the raspberry-blue icing were NOT to be sampled. Other companies, like International Bakers Services, Inc. and Carmi, specialized in flavors, both natural and artificial.
Packs the Goodies for Shipment
International Bakers’ Services, Inc. offerings include amaretto, anise, cinna butter, gingerbread, pina colada, and two versions of rum (Hawaiian and Jamaican). Carmi flavors include green apple, Goji berry, coffee, cheese, chocolate, sundried tomato, and bacon.
Everything Edible, Even the Containers!
California Raisins were represented in a recipe book that included directions for using the sweet, brown, wrinkled fruit in pretzels, pocket tarts, Raisin Newtons, coconut cookies and brownies. Gluten Free (GF) recipes were included as well, but that was not the only place it could be found.
GF and non-GMO (genetically modified organism) vendors took advantage of these surging trends (GF grew in popularity by 72% over the last year) to lure attendees to sample crepes, breads, cookies, cakes, and brownies made from alternative flours.
For example, Eagle Mills’ all purpose multi-grain blend is a mixture of sorghum, brown rice, corn amaranth, quinoa, millet, teff, cornstarch and tapioca. ConAgra Mills specializes in ancient grain flours -they've been around for thousands of years and come in a multitude of varieties, including 5, 8, and 9-grain versions, while Suntava specializes in non-GMO, gluten free purple corn.
SoulMaize makes another GF mix out of non-GMO corn. Using genetically unmodified ingredients means you can enjoy one without the worry of growing a third ear (yours, not the corn’s) but another mouth might be all right, especially at something like a baking convention with lots of free samples. Soul Maize also uses rice, potatoes, tapioca, quinoa, and even peas for their GF line.
Glutenone's baking mix contains potato starch and rice flour and makes some mean muffins. How mean? They’ll bite you back with flavor. The blueberry version flew out of sample baskets, but the moist banana muffin was satisfying as well, causing several taste testers to exclaim, “I can’t believe it’s not gluten!”
Merckens Chocolate Company makes easy-melt super coatings, and incorporates navy bean powder into recipes for GF cake pops, among their hundreds of other offerings.
Gelato made a colorful splash, along with soft serve ice cream, frozen yogurt and sorbet, thanks to companies like PreGel, that specialize in powders, pastes, toppings and sauces to enhance the frozen treat experience even more. Their booth runneth over with samplers armed with tiny spoons and big grins.
If you believe the phrase,” you are what you eat,” then you'll definitely be nutty over American Almond's array of products, including cashew, filbert, peanut, pistachio and of course almond flours. Butters include peanut, poppy (seed) and prune. Crunch toppings and pastes round out the meaty, savory and sweet offerings.
The IBIE also offered attendees workshops, panels and demonstrations with names like Blown Sugar - Flat Bread - Fancy Cupcakes - Bling, Bows, and Fantasy Flowers - In Crust We Trust - Rubber Stamping with Colored Cocoa Butter - and your humble correspondent's personal favorite - A Complaint is a Gift - Really!
The 13th Annual Pillsbury Bakers' Plus Creative Decorating Competition was held at the convention, with competitors taking away plates of multi-colored fondant, crystal sugar flowers, movie characters and other sweet, created items that could be devoured after the event.
We are all familiar with the end products, but rarely do we get to glimpse the inside of the baking industry, where things like icing stabilizers, food stackers, silicone molds, edible designs (like business cards and advertising signs), shelf life extenders, emulsifiers, dough conditioners, packaging and transportation come into play.
Massive Mixer and Blades
Massive North Hall of the Convention Center
Unifiller Systems manufactures bakery portioning systems, meting out proper configurations and proportions so that loaves, cakes and fillings are of uniform size, no dwarfs or giants among them unless programmed that way on purpose.
Continental Carbonic provides a mixture of dry and liquid carbon dioxide process to blast-clean mixers, ovens, knife blades, conveyors and baking molds. It seems that ice and icing go hand in hand in the baking industry. Who knew?
The WP Bakery Group brings the heat, specializing in ovens, whether in-store electric deck ovens, convection ovens, hearth deck ovens, rack ovens, or multi-layer ovens, they’ve got a place for the dough to help it rise to any occasion.
Lights, Camera, Cake!
With over 35 countries represented, the IBIE is indeed an international affair, showcasing the global demand for baked goods while highlighting trends in health, ingredients, production and transportation.
Yes, that’s a mouthful, but it's usually a flavorful one.
Truth in Advertising
Manufacturing the Mouth-Watering
Fond of Fondant
Flower Power Meets Flour Power
Demonstrating the Technique
You Wanna Pizza Me? The Author Goes Upper-Crust.