Commissioning of Bakery


A few days after we learned that the container had arrived safely in Ifakara we flew to Dar es Salaam and then on to Ifakara. We were greatly relieved that all the goods had arrived safely and had been unloaded and placed in the bakery area. We were thrilled to find that all our instructions for the building work were carried out exactly as requested. The electric wiring was completed but it did not work! It took us two days to sort out the electrics







with the local 'specialists' but this gave us time to position all the machines and equipment correctly, clean and make it ready for commissioning. The generator was also connected via a switch box to ensure that whenever the electricity failed, the work in the bakery could readily continue. Once the electrical problems were corrected , it was a treat to switch on the machines and equipment. They all worked perfectly despite the most bumpy ride they had endured. The generator also was working very well and due to an early power cut, we could immediately see the great asset this would prove to the smooth running of the bakery.

It was obvious to us that the successful operation of all the equipment depended on providing adequate training in the safe and efficient handling of the goods. We collated all the Installation, Operating and Maintenance manuals of the equipment but these were in English. With the help of one of the Sisters who spoke some English, we commenced to translate the most salient points into Swahili. This took many hours and in due course a manual was produced in their own language and committed to a CD.

All the machines and the oven were commissioned and working to our entire satisfaction. The time had come to train the Sisters in the safe handling of the equipment and in the art of making bread.


Training - First Batch of Bread - Test Market - November 2001



We were allocated Sr. Christina and Sr. Gisella for training. Neither of them ever worked in a kitchen, let alone a bakery. Their main duty was to cultivate the Convent's land and growing maize. Having previously ensured that all the ingredients were available to make dough we started explaining the recipe and how to measure out the ingredients before mixing could begin. As a gift from the Berkel-Avery museum in Birmingham we used an old fashioned balance scale with the cast iron and brass weights. Our aim was to produce an initial batch of 20 small loaves and 10 large loaves.
The strength of flour was good for making bread dough. Instead of the live yeast we were happy to use granulated yeast. As there is no dough improving agent available we had to allow the dough to prove in the dough kneader and then knock it back for a short period before removing it and scaling off into small pieces of 450 grams.

Initially we showed them how to hand-mould each piece into the required shape before placing it into the pre-greased tins. When the daily requirements increased we introduced them to the Dough Moulding Machine which greatly pleased everybody.

The dough pieces were placed into the pre-greased tins We had no proving cabinets and, therefore, we placed the tins onto baking sheets, slid them into the racks which were fitted with re-usable covers made of tough tear-resistant polyethylene with Velcro fasten opening panels. We were delighted to see how efficient a prover each rack became with the help of these covers and, of course, the ambient temperature which was about 30oC. It took only around 30 minutes before we could transfer the tins to the preheated oven. - The loading of the oven was carefully explained and how to maximise each deck's capacity.
We shall never forget the expressions and sheer joy on the faces of the Sisters when we were able to remove the first baked loaves from the oven. The smell of the freshly baked bread was quickly noticed and soon we had a queue of admiring and thankful people surrounding us! - We all worked very hard but we also had a lot of fun.

The sample batch of bread was found to be of excellent quality and much appreciated as we freely distributed it to local people but we soon learned that they found the bread too salty and would prefer a slightly sweeter bread. Having amended the recipe we proceeded to increase production as considerable demand was evident when we met the queue waiting to buy bread early the next morning. The price per small loaf was fixed at Tanz.Shillings 200 which meant GB£ 0.17 or US$ 0.20 at current rates of exchange. This proved to be very popular and we soon had to increase production to 100 loaves a day to meet demand.