Case Study: From Pan Breads to Hearth

by Charlotte Atchley
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Purchase of a second bakery gave Frank Cognetta an interesting challenge: duplicate at the new site in Beachwood, NJ, the signature hearth-style bread of Il Panettiere, his original Staten Island, NY, bakery. The problem — and its solution — boiled down to the ovens. Baldanza’s Bakery, the newly acquired business, operated rack ovens while Il Panettiere baked on deck ovens. But Mr. Cognetta knew just where to turn.

When he started Il Panettiere, a small commercial bakery, about 15 years ago, he bought an oven from Cindy Chananie. So earlier this year, he called on her and Cinch Bakery Equipment, Little Falls, NJ, to replace Baldanza’s rack ovens with deck-style systems. It meant going from pan to hearth methods, a complex change. But the decision to trade on the longstanding relationship between the two businesses was simple.

“It’s a small word, ‘integrity,’ but it has a huge meaning when you’re doing business with somebody in this equipment business,” Mr. Cognetta said. “With Cindy, I’m very comfortable because of the way she conducts herself and the way she does business.”

Mr. Cognetta recalled a time when a divider he purchased from Ms. Chananie did not work for his application. She took it back and refunded his money without any
hassle. “She didn’t care about the short-term sale as much as she cared about her customer. For me, Cindy always gets the first option when we have to buy something.”

This respect is mutual. Ms. Chananie said that not only do they have a professional relationship, but they have also become friends. Over the years, Mr. Cognetta often talked about purchasing more bakeries to expand his business. When he added Baldanza’s Bakery in March, he said he would buy ovens from Ms. Chananie. The partnership between Cinch and Baldanza’s Bakery will continue beyond supplying ovens, however, as Mr. Cognetta offered Baldanza’s Bakery as a demonstration bakery for Cinch, located only 90 minutes from the bakery.

“I have a building that I intend to use as a show bakery, but the problem is it’s not a functional bakery,” Ms. Chananie said. “So working with Baldanza is a better situation because it’ll be working with the ovens every day, and it’s an actual bakery.”

Baldanza’s purchased and installed four ovens from Cinch: a Gashor Thermodeck cyclothermic oven with a semi­automatic loader and a Hornos Tayso steam-tube deck oven as well as a Gashor Thermocar and a Gashor rack ovens.

The Gashor Thermodeck cyclothermic oven produces the Old World crust typical of hearth-baked breads. The oven’s semiautomatic loader and controls will make the baking process more efficient. This oven’s steam controls are located on the loader, which means the baker doesn’t have to put the product in the oven and then walk around the loader to the oven to control the oven’s steam. All of this can be done at the loader, making the process more efficient.

The Tayso Dualhit steam-tube deck oven allows bakers to control the heat on top and bottom portions of each deck, unlike other ovens that have the same temperature throughout the deck chamber. Ms. Chananie said steam-tube ovens are designed for large, heavy breads because they produce a heavy bottom and thick crust.

“If a customer wants a really heavy crust on the bottom, he can adjust the temperature on the bottom to give him that really good bottom crust. But maybe he wants a really delicate crust on top, and he can adjust for that on this system,” Ms. Chananie explained.

The Gashor Thermocar oven uses the heating principles of conventional deck ovens in a rack oven. It provides a deck-oven-like finished product, but bakers can proof, bake and cool baked foods all on the same rack, eliminating transfers and labor. Mr. Cognetta said he eventually plans to replace all of his rack ovens with Thermocar ovens.

The Gashor rack oven provides uniform heat throughout the oven and uses high-volume, low-pressure steam to develop crust on baked foods. According to Ms. Chananie, these features also suit this oven to baking sweet goods, pastries, cookies and cakes.

Mr. Cognetta said he plans to use Baldanza’s Bakery to expand the wholesale business of Il Panettiere and branch out to cakes and pasteries. Mr. Cognetta is also considering entering the retail side of Baldanza’s Bakery. With such big expansion plans, the new ovens will really get broken in once Baldanza’s Bakery is integrated with Il Panettiere.               

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