Bakery Adventures

While Mon Amour was away and I was staying with my parents for a bit, I decided it was finally time to experience the early morning shift at the bakery. I work for my parents' bakery in a marketing capacity from my computer at home, but everyone else in the family, at one point or another, has worked in the store, and most, have done the early shift. So it was high time I gave it a try.

And when I say "early shift" I mean...super early...
Though this is a normal-day early-shift. Holiday early shifts start even earlier. Yikes!

The bakery is very peaceful at 2:30am.

When we arrive, most of our recipes are "prepped"; measured our the day before so that they are ready to go! Large sour cream containers filled with chocolate chips, tubs of butter that has come to the necessary room temperature, etc.

First order of business: grab a large bowl and start mixing up some tasty sweets!

Once your first batch is mixed up, start weighing it out

Then, using our handy dandy dough-press, divide them evenly into cookie-sized balls. Which you will then smash onto a cookie sheet!

While all this is going on, it's important to be mixing up the next batch of dough, and also keep up with the dishes.

Dad is a furious multi-tasker in the morning. I consider myself pretty stellar at multi-tasking but my head was spinning. I was still smashing out the oatmeal cookies when he comes out with another batch of dough that I didn't even know he had started!

Once you have a bunch of dough all measure out into the appropriate baking dish....'s time to fire up the oven. Which is when the real multi-tasking begins!

This rather benign looking timer is what keeps everything running (combined with dad's brain of course). The oven has a bunch of large trays that rotate around like a rotisserie; each tray gets its own kind of tasty-ness, the bake time for which is then marked on this dial with a numbered and color coded marker. When a marker gets to the top, the buzzer goes off - you consult the marker to see which tray needs checking. It sounds simple, but whoa! It's a science.

Once things are rolling along inside the bakery, it's time for a quick break. Sitting outside the bakery in the black darkness of the early morning (I think it's like 3:30am at this point) may be the best part of the shift. The calm before the day begins is kind of inspiring.

But, there is no time for sitting around too long, it's back to work! Slicing up some cheese for the top of some scones!

Time to through another ball into the air in the juggling act we call baking! The 4 O'clocks are ready to go in!

But watch out, just like that, the scones are ready to come out!

Oh what beautiful, beautiful scones.

Now that the sweets are well underway, it's back to the kitchen for me to learn about mixing up sponge and dough! I also got a tutorial in how to use the industrial sized mixer. This is no ordinary mixer - with its start, stop, varying speeds, clutch, etc. controlling this thing is a skill.

Essential to all (ok...not all...just most) tasty baked goods, is butter! The real stuff, of course. You really can never have too much.

Many things get mixed on the deluxe mixer, but some things must be mixed the old fashioned way...with a very large spoon, or paddle rather.

At this point, it is still early....

...but this sun is starting to come up....

...and it's time to take the temperature of the bread to see if it has "proofed" (risen) correctly.

It's ready, and so is our bread-prep crew! The batch of bread is dumped on the "bread board" and shaped into the necessary forms. We started with Challah dough which meant rolling it out...

And braiding it!

Some got filled with delicious fillings and made into other challah variations...

and still more became delicious coffee cakes!

By then, it was time for me to call it quits. I had been plagued by morning sickness and needed sleep. I left at about 7:30am and felt liked I had worked a full day. Dad stayed for another couple hours like he normally does....I don't know he does it.

All in all, it was a fabulous morning! (that for most people had just begun when mine ended!) And I totally want to do it again some time...not every day, and not when suffering from morning sickness....but I definitely enjoyed the experience and have a much greater appreciate for what goes on behind the scenes at the bakery!


Beth Anne said...

Fantastic! I think getting that experience was totally worth the early morning....not that I would want to do it every day, though!

Fit For Life said...

Great Harvest is awesome! We enjoyed products from the Wayne, PA Great Harvest at the Healthy Living Summit!

Eliz. K said...

Your family is amazing! And I'm missing the bakery (even though I don't do the early thing...) Hooray GH!

Brianne and Tim said...

Oooh, this was very interesting. Your dad is amazing for doing this everyday.