BAKING FOR BUSINESS: Flavorings and Additives Used in Commercial Baking in Kenya

This is the fourth post on the Baking For Business Series.

In this post we’ll share various flavorings, additives, improvers and preservatives used for commercial baking in Kenya.

1. Flavorings and Essences
Vanilla Essence
If your small bakery business menu will consist of cupcakes and cakes, you will need essences in your bakery pantry. Examples of these, depending on your recipes are; Vanilla Essence (available in liquid and powder form), Almond Essence, Orange essence, Orange oil, Lemon essence, Chocolate essence, Peppermint essence, Strawberry Essence, Coconut essence, Pineapple Essence, among many other flavorings. These are used to flavor or bring the best flavor of cakes. These flavorings are available mostly in liquid form, and in bottles of 50 ml, 250 ml, 500 ml, 1 Liter and 5 Liter sizes. They range from Kshs. 80 to 200 for the 50 ml bottles; Kshs. 260 to 300 for 500 ml bottles and Kshs. 400 to 500 for the 1 liter bottles. You can also get vanilla in powder form; 1 Kg goes for about Kshs. 1,200. These flavorings can be found in a stores such as Pradip Enterprises in the Nairobi CBD, Topserve Ltd on Accra Rd and other cake accessories business such as Maimun Supplies.
2. Bread Improver
Bread improver
Bread improver is a food additive that is combined with wheat flour to improve bread and scone doughs in order to get a better end result for your baked products. Bread improver is used to improve strength and malleability of dough as well as speed up the proofing/rising process. If your bakery will focus on making of commercial products for wholesale distribution such as breads, buns or scones; you will require bread improver. Small bakeries that bake fresh bread daily don’t have to use the improver, if they don’t mind the longer process of bread making that gives a deeper taste and texture. However, as a small bakery owner, you can choose to do so if you are concerned about improving the texture of your bread products and production speed. There are different types of improvers with various functions depending on the bakery’s particular needs. There are bleaching agents; added to flour to make it appear whiter and also help with the developing of gluten. There are reducing agents; they help to break protein networks and therefore weaken the flour. These agents assist in reducing mixing and proofing time. Another category are oxidation agents; they assist with gluten development which creates a stronger dough. You can purchase bread improver for your bakery at an ingredients shop such as Pradip enterprises. Topserve ltd are also a distributor of Pradip and other brand improvers.  Make sure you inquire on the ratios used for your bread dough from the distributor.
3. Food Colors
Liquid Food Color
If you will be offering birthday cakes and cupcakes in your small bakery menu, you will require food colors. They are used for various purposes; for adding certain colors to your frosting, for baking cake recipes that call for food color in the batter e.g. Rainbow Cake, Pink Marble or Red Velvet Cake. Some bakeries also choose to add an egg yellow color in their buns or scones. There are different food colors you can purchase based on brand and quality. The most popular and easily available options are powder color usually found in 10 gms, 50 gms, 250gms, 500gms and 1 Kg packages. The smaller 10 gms & 50 gms are available in major supermarkets and range from Kshs. 25 & Kshs. 80 to 100 respectively. Shops such as Walibhai Karim on Biashara street or Topserve Ltd on Accra road, also stock these food colors in the smaller sizes. For the larger sizes, look for shops such as Pradip. Prices range from 250 gms at Kshs.300, 500 gms at Kshs. 600 and 1 Kg at Kshs. 1160. You can also find liquid colors, they are usually highly concentrated and of a better quality. The smaller sizes, such as the one pictured above; range from Kshs. 120 to 200 for the 50 ml bottles and are easily found in supermarkets or shops such as Asami Ltd in the Nairobi CBD. For larger sizes, shops such as Pradip stock them.
You can also choose to use gel colors; they are more concentrated and very effective when being used to color icings such as fondant, royal icing and cream frosting. Gel colors are also have a variety of colors such as  black or gold. They range from Kshs. 350 to 500. Shops such as Topserve Ltd, Walibhai Karim and Maimun supplies stock these colors.
Purple gel color from Wilton
Purple gel color from Wilton
Another form of liquid color that also has a flavor you can use are liquid emulsions. These are found in shops such as Pradip and range from Kshs. 230-800 for 500 ml, Kshs. 450 to 750 for 1 liter depending on flavors, e.g. Caramel, Black Currant, Chocolate Dark among other flavors. These flavors are strong and therefore more expensive, they can also be used as flavorings or flavor substitutions.
4. Fillings and Garnishes
Cherries used as a garnish on Amari Cupcakes
If you’re starting a bakery with cakes, cupcakes and sponges in your menu, you’ll need to stock some fillings and garnishes. Examples are cherries; used for garnishing and for Black Forrest cakes. They can be found in stores such as Walibhai Karim, Topserve Ltd or Pradip; supermarkets such as Nakumatt also stock them sometimes in smaller sizes. They range from 180 gms at Kshs. 225, 250 gms at Kshs. 250 and wholesale 1 Kg at Kshs. 800. Other garnishes you might require are coconut shavings or desiccated coconut which is usually found in major supermakets in 50 gms for about Kshs. 55 or 200gms for about Kshs. 170. You can also find it in shops such as Walibhai Karim or Maimun Supplies. Other garnishes you can find in cake shops and supermarkets are sugar sprinkles and chocolate sprinles (sometimes labeled as ‘Decocceli’). Cake dried fruit mixes for baking Fruit Cake are also found in supermarkets and cake ingredients shops such as Walibhai Karim, Topserve Ltd, Pradip, Asami Ltd, etc. You can also find fillings such as blueberry fillings in cake shops such as Walibhai Karim and Topserve Ltd as well.
5. Preservatives
Most small bakeries prefer not to use preservatives in their products (we don’t really advocate for them) and prefer to bake fresh daily. However, if you’re starting a bakery that is going to be baking and distributing baked products to other retail outlets such as local shops etc; you might need to use preservatives in your baked products, if you want to increase the shelf life of the products. You need to get the required preservatives for your products and make sure you find out the approved quantities from the distributor of the preservatives as well as KEBS (Kenya Bureau of Standards).
A commonly used preservative for bread products is Calcium propionate; it’s a mould inhibitor and therefore very useful for commercial wholesale bread and scone bakeries looking to extend their products’ shelf life. Ingredients stores such as Pradip stock the preservative in packages of 1 Kg and even 25 Kg. Price ranges from Kshs. 350 and 6,875 respectively.
Potassium Sorbate is another preservative used in cake making; you can find it in supply shops such as Topserve Ltd. Potassium Sorbate can not only effectively inhibit the activity of molds, yeasts and aerobic bacteria, but also prevent the growth and reproduction of botulinum, staphylococcus, salmonella and other harmful microorganisms. It can effectively extend the shelf time of food and keep the original flavor of the food. Price range is from Kshs. 370 for 250gms to Kshs. 1,480 for 1 Kg.
Ascorbic acid is another agent that can be used as a preservative for cakes and other cake and pastry products. It’s said to be a more natural preservative since it’s a form of Vitamin C. However, there is industrial ascorbic acid that is man-made; it is used to preserve and not for nutritional purposes. It comes in 1 Kg and 25 Kg packages as well in shops such as Pradip Enterprises; price ranges are Kshs. 800 and 20,000 respectively.
The above are the most commonly used flavorings, additives and preservatives used in commercial baking in Kenya. However there are many more out there and if you have suggestions or inquiries, please feel free to comment below.
If you would like to start a small bakery business in Kenya, we hold business masterclasses monthly on different topics, you can sign up here via email to get updates on the classes.
We also offer discounts on baking classes, business training and Cookswell charcoal oven packages. Get more information here.
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Published by Amari

Baking with Amari offers learning experiences to those who want to experience & know what Bakers & Cake Decorators do in a practical, hands-on settting. We train our students using Cookswell original charcoal ovens. We also offer basic business start-up training for those who want to start small baking businesses. We do groups vocational training anywhere in East Africa as well. We hold classes in our home-based bakery workshop located on Ndwaru road in Riruta, Nairobi; off Naivasha road, next to Pelida School.

12 thoughts on “BAKING FOR BUSINESS: Flavorings and Additives Used in Commercial Baking in Kenya

  1. hi, I love your article and find your site as a goldmine of wealth.
    Do you know where i can purchase sorbic acid or potassium/sodium sorbates?
    Many thanks and keep up the good work


  2. Hi Njeri thanks so much for reading! You can purchase the mentioned in Pradip enterprises that's on Keekorok road in the Nairobi CBD. Near 'Roast House' opposite the stage for Lower Kabete & Village Market matatus. The road that enters; take the 2nd lane and walk down for about a minute, on your left.


  3. Hello, I'm so sorry I've never needed to look for oil based particularly so I've no idea where to get it. However, I would start with Walibhai Karim on Biashara Street in Nairobi CBD and you can inquire from them to see if they have it. All the best and please share if you do find it please. thanks.


  4. Hi.
    I would like to buy bread improver since my brown bread most of the time sinks when baking while white bread turns up perfectly.
    I use flour from supermarket making small business bread at home.
    Kindly if you can assist on this, shall highly appreciate.


    1. Hi, please search a business called “Pradip Enterprises” they manufacture and sell Bread improvers. You can also check Topserve Ltd – they are a business that sells bread improvers as well and they have over 5 branches in Kenya. Also note; this could be a recipe issue, a white bread recipe is usually not exactly like a brown bread recipe, so you may need to ensure you have a good recipe first instead of adding bread improvers instead – these are much more effective for commercial baking of large batches of bread


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