For bakers seeking a technologically advanced alternative to conventional cooling and refrigeration systems then vacuum cooling is the answer.

Vacuum cooling not only cuts energy costs it significantly reduces baking times and takes up far less space than conventional systems. It can also greatly improve the eating quality of baked goods.

In the past British and Irish bakers have not always given vacuum cooling the warmest of receptions with some awarding it an unwarranted reputation for drying out some products and removing flavour.

“Advances in vacuum pump design and more accurate control of the process cycle means that this no longer an issue and the technology is far more reliable than before,” claims Steve Merritt, managing director of EPP . The Epsom, Surrey-based company whose stated mission is to enable bakery innovation supplies and maintains vacuum cooling systems made by the Swiss-based world leader Aston Foods. “For example a trolley filled with racks of croissants taken straight from the oven can be cooled from 100°C to 25°C in under a minute.”

Mr Merritt maintains that Aston Foods has a deep understanding of vacuum technology when applied to baked goods. “It significantly improves the quality of the product by helping to maintain a better cell structure and lengthening the shelf life,” he said.  “An unexpected benefit is that consumers report that the eating quality of gluten-free products is also substantially improved.”

Last year the company installed a vacuum cooling system in a high profile British bakery. “Not surprising,” given that the payback period for installing an Aston Foods vacuum cooling system can be as little as 18 months.