Pita bread

Pita, also called pita bread, is a round, flat bread with a soft crust and a diameter of approximately 20 cm. In general, pita is made of wheat, but there are also pitas available of germ and wholemeal flour.

Pita is being eaten all over the world, but the word ‘pita’ originates in Greece and means ‘flat’. Because pita is baked at a temperature up to 450°C, the dough expands rapidly and divides in the middle, creating a big air bubble. When the dough is cooled and relapsed, there is still an internal hole. After the relapsing, the bread is cut, and the two parts form a sort of pocket in which, for example, meat, cheese or vegetables can be put. Traditionally, pita is eaten with, among others, falafel and kebab. Pita is also often dipped in for example olive oil and hummus.

Production pita

Raw materials

The basic ingredients of pita are flour, water, yeast and salt. In general, wheat flour is used, both wholemeal and white flour. When white flour is used, the nutrient germ and bran are removed, and therefore extra vitamins and minerals are often added. The hardness and pH of the water influences the characteristics of the dough. The water is therefore often filtered to obtain a lower hardness and a neutral pH. The yeast which is added converts the sugar in the dough into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The dough rises due to the formation of carbon dioxide. The small amount of alcohol which is formed, evaporates during the baking of the pita. To give the yeast extra nutrition, extra sugar can be added to the dough. The pita will also get a nice brown colour during the baking because of the extra sugar. Contrary to the stimulating effect of sugar, salt slows the yeast down. Besides the effect on the yeast, salt also effects the taste of the pita. Oil, fats or emulsifiers can be added to the dough to prolong the freshness of the pita. Finally, skimmed milk can also be added to enrich the taste and smell.


The weighted quantities of flour, water, salt and yeast are mixed in big, commercial mixers until the desired elasticity is reached.


The formed dough then rises 20 to 60 minutes at a temperature of 40°C.


After the resting, the dough is transported into an extruder that forms the dough into balls, with the size of a tennis-ball. These balls are then placed in special cups on a conveyor belt.


While they lay on the conveyor belt, the doughballs rest and rise again at a temperature of 40°C for 10 to 25 minutes.


After the second rest step, the dough is, by means of rollers, unrolled to the desired thickness of approximately 1 to 2 mm. The flat dough is then punched into round shapes. One can also choose to first punch the dough and unroll the dough secondly. The surplus dough is transported back to the extruder.


A final resting step takes place before the pita is baked. The dough is transported into the upper layer of a closet in which it can rise again. The dough is than guided down through the closet for 15 to 30 minutes at a temperature of 40°C.


The dough is guided from the closet into the oven which has a temperature up to 450°C. The pita dough is only exposed to this high temperature for a minute to create a crispy crust. The dough expands quickly due to the formed steam and a division is created in the middle of the pita bread.


The pita is transported out of the oven on a conveyor belt, where the baked pita gets 20 minutes to cool. The product is then manually pressed and possible bad pitas are removed.


The good pitas, possibly carved, are then guided to an automatic wrapping machine, where a fix quantity is wrapped in preprinted plastic bags. These wrappings are wrapped again in cardboard boxes to be delivered to the client. The pitas are frozen and kept at a constant temperature of approximately -12°C, if they are not delivered immediately.


When Aviateur does a job, it does it well

Aviateur Banketbakkerijen B.V. steals market share by focus on food hygiene

More than half a million Dutch short biscuits, almond boats, treacle waffles and almond rounds roll off the production line every hour at the five factories owned by Dutch pastry specialist Aviateur Banketbakkerijen. What started as a small-scale family enterprise in Wogmeer has grown to its current position supplying a long list A-brands in the (inter)national food industry, and as a purveyor to the Royal Household.

Aviateur's head office stands right between two large production units in Broek op Langedijk in the Province of Noord-Holland, looking out onto the Wijde Vaart polder waterway at a particularly pleasant spot on the Spanjaardsdam. Here administration, transport and sales staff work literally side by side with production staff in the factory. The logistics heart of the business is housed in the adjoining distribution centre, where Aviateur trucks are loaded up with the daily production yield from the 6000m2 workfloor of the industrial bakery. The twelve ten-tonners operated by Aviateur distribute the produce and come back fully laden with packaging materials and basic ingredients so that production can keep going. The production lines only go quiet during the daily cleaning cycle.

Cake with your coffee

Dutch people enjoy a cake with their coffee, but even beyond our borders Dutch pastries enjoy great popularity. Aviateur currently exports nearly forty percent of all its products. The producer is aiming to grow its exports further in 2018. Aviateur believes this is achievable since demand for Dutch treacle waffles is growing exponentially in the US and China. As part of its strategy, Aviateur is constructing a completely new line for the production of 40,000 treacle waffles per hour in Broek op Langedijk. This is enough capacity to bring the waffles to the (inter)national market at a competitive price.

The new line is a model of modern industrial design, based on the latest developments in food-safe production facilities. Aviateur has considered every angle in its efforts to eliminate all risks of bacterial contamination and foreign objects entering the food chain - from the stainless steel cooling towers and hygienically designed junction boxes to the easy clean cable conduits for the motor drive of the transport and handling systems. The company is willing to innovate and is not afraid to play an active role by investing in new solutions. Aviateur uses the freedom of choice it has as a family-owned enterprise to focus in on sustainability, user friendliness and food hygiene without compromise.

Safe Food Factory

As Technical Facilities Manager, Jaap Jonk has had charge of the technical facilities at the Aviateur production locations for many years now, including in Broek op Langedijk. He brings a down-to-earth Noord-Holland outlook to his role. According to Jonk, "The best way to ensure maximum food safety is by eliminating all risks of bacterial infection in your production environment. To be able to do this, you first need to identify the risks. Two years ago, I attended a seminar run by SafeFoodFactory on the subject of hygienic cabling which made me look at open cable conduit systems in a new light. Many of the cable conduits, that were previously covered, we have now made more accessible and so easier to clean." 'Less is more' seems to be the guiding principle for Jonk when it comes to maximising food safety. He was guided by the same principle in the standardisation of the production facilities. Jonk explains, "In the past, we would build the production space first and then put the production line in the available space. When we were constructing our new treacle waffle line, we did it the other way round. The internal walls of the production unit were only put in place after the production line had been installed. This will allow us to increase production capacity with a second line at a later stage. We wanted to define a new standard through the new waffle line and to apply all the latest developments and understanding in the area of sustainability, hygiene and user friendliness."

Safe Food Factory
Aviateur bakery; fltr: Jonk, Evers and V.d. Kolk

Minimising existing risks

As part of the efforts to minimise food hygiene risks, all fluorescent lamps and all plastic cable ties were removed in succession from the production environments. Jonk: "The presence of breakable glass bulbs in the production environment is a risk factor, so we got rid of them. The same went for tie-wraps. They can break off and their use simply cannot be justified in terms of hygiene, so these had to go too.

All kinds of nasties can accumulate in closed cable conduit systems, so we wanted to find a different hygienic solution for the cable conduits for our new waffle line. We found the answer in Streamline HD cable conduits from Gouda Holland (part of the Niedax Group): they are easy to clean and do not need any cable ties."

Michael Evers - Business Development Manager at Niedax Group - explains, "Not only can cable ties break and get into the food chain; because, by definition, they can't be cleaned they pose a potential risk of contamination. If cable ties are not properly tied off, they also have the potential to cause physical injuries. Hundreds or even thousands of cable ties are used in many production environments. By removing them you remove thousands of risk factors at a stroke." Jonk continues,"In the same way, we looked at the housings used for the machine controls. We consistently opted for Rittal HD housings, which have a sloping roof and effective silicone seals."

Freddy van de Kolk, Account Manager Rittal Hygienic Design: "In the period in which hygienic design products came into common use among food producers working primarily with wet processes, Aviateur was one of the first industrial bakeries to install our Rittal HD housings. Others followed their example and HD products are now used in other dry environments too. This is partly because everyone started to look more closely at and became more aware of the role of peripheral equipment in production environments. No one can or wants to run the risk of a nidus of bacteria in a switch box or cable conduit leading to contamination and the recall of products. The hygienically designed products from Rittal and Niedax minimise the risk of anything like that happening."

Evers, "Through the application of Rittal HD housing and the Niedax Streamline HD cable conduit system, Aviateur can now have greater certainty about the hygienic status of the housings and cables. At Aviateur all employees are involved in the drive for maximum food safety - it's something we go into deeply and because we talk about these issues everyone looks at the processes in their part of the business with a more critical eye. This is the most important step in being able to implement changes and the best guarantee of maximum food safety."

Jonk: "We are happy to research new ways of making our processes even more sustainable and user friendly. The safety of our employees and food hygiene in our products are our most important priorities in this respect. It all starts with maximum hygiene. Eliminating food hygiene risks also makes the work environment more manageable, and we are developing our own construction standards that we can stipulate in specifications for our suppliers. This in its turn delivers savings in time and stock. Investing in hygienic design is not only a given for me – our entire board is of the same persuasion."

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Featured expert: Michael Evers

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