The Marvel of Bread: How Franz Delivers the Goods
Want to find out what it takes to mix, bake and package those tasty loaves of bread and other baked goods that feed body and soul? Let Franz take you on a brief history of bread making and baking, something Franz has understood for the past 100 years.
Bread, glorious bread: The staff of life is more than just food. Throughout history, bread has taken on special meaning. In addition to its nutritional benefits, bread has played an important role in agriculture, science, religion and politics.
Today, bread still plays a vital role in our daily diets. In fact, bread is the one principle food we enjoy today that has been around since ancient times.
Since about 4,000 B.C., when the first raised breads were baked in Egypt, bread has been an important source of essential nutrients and fiber. Over the centuries, the variety of breads and production methods for making, packaging and distributing bread have evolved and expanded to meet our changing needs and tastes.
Fast forward to today's methods of providing daily bread.
Millions rely on neighborhood or commercial bakers to supply our daily bread. Here's how Franz Family Bakeries, celebrating 100 years of providing bread and baked goods, has evolved to keep up with the demand for good-tasting, fresh bread in the Northwest.
In 1906, two brothers, Engelbert and Joseph Franz, who had traveled to Portland to work in their Uncles Joseph and John Matschiner’s bakery, purchased a small neighborhood bakery and started producing home-baked quality bread. That small bakery was the origin of what evolved into Franz Family Bakeries, the largest family-owned independent bakery in the United States.
Go behind the scenes and see how it's done. The tour begins in the ingredient storeroom of the Portland bakery where raw materials are stored for future use. In 2005, the Franz bakery in Portland alone used more than 30 million pounds of flour, four million pounds of sugar and two million pounds of cream yeast.
The first step in making bread, buns or rolls at Franz in Portland is the sifter where flour is sifted through seven screens into a giant sifter at 1500 pounds per minute. Kevin Sturdy, production manager at Franz's Portland facility, has been with Franz for 37 years. He explained, "In the mixing room, the right amount of flour, water and yeast for each formula or recipe are mixed into what is known as sponge."
Back in the mixing room, the sponge is dropped into containers called troughs and transported to the fermentation room to rise for four hours.
At this point, additional ingredients are added for a second mix. During this remixing process -- the sponge becomes a finished product called dough. Franz uses the sponge and dough process for nearly all their bread products. "What varies is the size, weight and shape of the dough pieces -- and processing time for baking and cooling our various products," noted Sturdy.
After the remixing, the dough is sent to the divider and cut into small, individual pieces of a given weight. The extrusion/divider in Portland produces 135 dough balls every minute for larger products such as bread, and up to 800 dough pieces per minutes for smaller products such as buns or rolls.
Once the dough pieces are given more time to rise, they are flattened, shaped and placed into lightly oiled pans to be baked. The pans then head for the proof box - where the dough will rise, once again, in a warm, moist environment. When they've fully risen, dough pieces may be topped with some type of grain, flour, or left plain depending on the variety of bread.
The bread dough is then automatically loaded into a giant oven for baking. The oven in Portland bakes 2600 loaves of bread in 19 minutes - or approximately 6000 buns or rolls in eight minutes. When done, the hot bread products are lifted from pans by a vacuum depanner and cooled for slicing. The sliced bread, buns and rolls are now ready to be put into bags.
Every six hours, a new load of freshly-baked and bagged products are ready to go. Within a matter of hours, the newly-baked products are loaded on Franz trucks and delivered to a variety of locations.
We’re still delivering home-baked quality products on a grand scale.
In addition to producing baked goods at their Portland facility, Franz also owns and operates five other bakeries located in Seattle and Spokane, Washington; and Portland, McMinnville and Eugene, Oregon.
Franz mixed a whopping 183.5 million pounds of bread dough, 112.2 million pounds of dough for buns and more than 3.4 million pounds of dough for cookies in 2005. These figures give you an idea of the magnitude of Franz's operation.
"It takes millions of pounds of dough for us to provide virtually every fast food restaurant in the northwest with buns," said Bob Albers. "Plus we supply the majority of grocers, schools and institutions in the northwest with breads, buns and other baked goods." Franz also mixes millions more pounds of dough for specialty breads and rolls, English muffins, bagels and donuts."
Franz operates a large fleet of trucks and other vehicles. "Our drivers rack up a lot of miles distributing Franz products," reported Albers. Seattle drivers topped the charts, driving nearly five million miles to deliver product in 2005. Spokane drivers tallied 4.4 million miles, Eugene drivers were at nearly three million miles and Portland drivers logged more than two million miles.
Franz Family Bakeries is a family owned and operated business serving the Northwest since 1906. Franz Family Bakeries quality baked goods include Franz, Williams’, Snyder’s and Gai’s bread brands, plus Franz cookies (baked at Smith Cookie Co. in McMinnville, Ore.)