Monday, August 31, 2009

leapt up in a panic

Felt good to be back in the bakery yesterday. All day, by myself. Had a lot to catch up on. Got a lot done. Weekend was good, very good. Weather could not be better. We are seeing lots of folks movin' back onto the campus here. Life is about to begin again. In fact, it is so comfortable outside, that we may even push up the start of our post Labor Day offerings. We always stop florentines between Memorial Day and Labor Day, but I think we might get started a little earlier this year. Labor Day is a little late this year. Things are going to really run together. Our "Back to school cookie special" will end on Rosh Hashanah. Our little bakery here will be rockin'!

Has funny experience Saturday afternoon. I returned to Chicago on Friday night around midnight. I knew we were in the weeds for the Saturday markets, so I was here at 2am. Truth be known, I missed the bakery. So it turned into a very long day. Got home around 3pm, showered and fell asleep watching the little league world series. John Roeser and I usually compare notes, late Saturday afternoons', just to see who had the more "Bizarre" finish to their day. I don't want to disclose much here. Most Saturday's, our demise is self inflicted. I was sound asleep, phone rang. I answered and it was Johnny. I asked "What time is it"? He said "5:30". My wife said I jumped up, and I was terrified. I thought it was 5:30 Sunday morning. Sunday was my day to work. A late start on my scheduled Sundays' is 4 o'clock, AM.I don't think John or wife have stopped laughing yet.

Yesterday we made a sheet of plum kuchen slices. Sold about eighty percent of the sheet. We used Danish pastry dough. We rolled it to fill a sheet pan. Spread it with a blend of pastry creme and almond creme. We covered it with sliced fresh plums, packed 'em on the dough pretty tight. Sprinkled them with cinnamon sugar and rimmed the edges with streussel. After a short proof, baked it. We sprayed it with apricot glace and sliced it. Glad to see it sold so well. It is really tasty stuff.

Yesetrday, while I was working, Peter Yuen stopped by the bakery. I mentioned that he will be competing in Paris, come March '10. He will be representing the U.S. in the viennoiserie category. I will be going with him, acting as manager/coach/chaperon, etc. He has already begun the "Yeast dreams". All past competitors talk about them. The dreams that will keep you awake, wondering if you remembered the yeast in all the preferments. Or you will dream that you are ten minutes behind schedule, with two hours left. They will plague him from now thru September '10. It's awful. On top of that, he is struggling with a shape for his last pastry. Been there. It's awful. Peter is a very talented and knowledgeable guy. He saw my attempt at tempering chocolate, chuckled and taught me a few tricks. This morning, the chocolate sheets I laid out, were perfect. Best part about this business, ya never stop learnin'. I knew the chocolate could would be better than what we had been doin'. I sent a text to my son last night. "I learned two things today that will change your life". We hadn't been getting the chocolate hot enough for the proper crystals to form. We were only taking it to 35c. Peter said it needs to go to 40c. We spread it out on acetate sheets and break it into random shards, and apply the pieces to the sides of our chocolate leaf tortes. This morning, chocolate was shiny as a mirror. Thanks Peter.

I gotta get upstairs. We lost Val, Valerie, last week. She went back to waiting tables. She got a job at the Publican. To bad, she is a very good baker. My son is away, Joe and Mark are off today. It's me and Jennifer on sandwich and croissant detail. Weather will be nice this week. Labor Day and farmer's markets should be busy.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

smoothest ice cream ever

Haven’t posted in a few days. Been traveling. We had to drop my youngest daughter off at college in Southern California. From there we rented a car and drove to Las Vegas. I spent the day on Thursday visiting influential Vegas pastry people. I hooked up with my buddy Chris Herrin from Bouchon. I mentioned before, he is the pastry chef there. He was my tour guide.

We stated the morning with a visit to the Ice Boutique, a wholesale ice cream business owned by Patrice Caillot. Patrice is probably the most open French guy I've ever met. Patrice was a member of the U.S. pastry team that competed in France a few years back. I don’t know much about producing ice cream, but what I tasted there was incredible. Patrice pointed out a number of interesting production points that make his ice cream so special. He blends all the ingredients, and allows them to set, at a controlled temperature for a minimum of twelve hours. Of course he uses only natural ingredients. No prepared mixes or bases. I saw a pile of dried, scraped, vanilla beans, thousand and thousand of beans. We tasted crème brulee and bananas foster ice cream, and strawberry sorbet. His ice cream is as smooth as custard. The crème brulee ice cream has shards of real caramel. He had unbelievable red colour is his sorbet. Only obtainable by using perfect strawberries. Patrice went on to explain that getting his business of the ground has been tough. Vegas is still very quiet. Food and beverage folks in town, are avoiding pricey items like ice cream from the Ice Boutique. Just like a retail bakery, since we use better ingredients, we have to charge higher prices. I am also sure, just like a retail bakery, quality will prevail.

After our meeting with Patrice we met with Jean Phillipe Maury, over at the Bellagio. Actually we met with Jean Phillipe, JP from now on, and his sous chef, Claude Escamillo. JP is a MOF, Muellier of France. Translates to “Best of France”. I think there are a hundred twenty of them, or so. Very difficult title to obtain. JP operates a pastry shop in the lobby of the hotel, and is also responsible for all pastry production for the buffet and room service as well. Sixty six people work in the pastry shop. Their work is stellar. Second to none. The pastry shop is near the registration desk in the hotel. When they came out to meet us, we walked for blocks thru the basement of the hotel. The employee cafeteria was bigger than any high school lunch room. I’m sure you can imagine, ten thousand employees. The Billagio is next to a new property called “City Center”. I understand that the pastry production will move over to that property and serve both properties. No bread baking, but they do a lot of breakfast pastry. I mean A LOT! Perfect chocolate work. All his petit gateaux, individual cakes, are just beautiful.

From the Bellagio we went to “Chef Rubber”. Chef Rubber is a unique business that supplies upscale pastry shops and choclatiers. They have a very extensive line of chocolate transfer sheets, chocolate colours, pastry tools and pastry publications. They have a showroom right there in Las Vegas. I could have gotten lost for hours. Tools and gadgets by the aisle. molds, cutters, engraved rolling pins, silicone forms, volumes of baking and pastry books.

From Chef Rubber we went to Bon Bread. A large artisan bread bakery started and operated by Carlos Pereira. They seem to be the only viable bread baker in Vegas. Typical American success story. Carlos came here from Peru, with nothing. Took classes with Didier Rosada. Strarted his bread bakery with an oven and a mixer. Worked night and day, sleeping in his car when necessary. He just took over an additional ten thousand square feet. New total is just shy of thirty thousand. Operates a whole fleet of trucks. I can’t imagine how much bread is consumed in Las Vegas daily. His bread is very nice. He has done this in ten years. Over at the Venetian hotel, home of Bouchon, they use his bread. Chris is very impressed with Carlos’ offerings.

The day ended with dinner at “The Range”. A very, very good steakhouse in Harrah’s casino. Bread there was pretty good. It wasn’t from Bon Bread. The Harrah’s group uses the Paris hotel as a baking commissary for all their properties. No room for dessert.

I’m writing this at thirty thousand feet. Anxious to get back to the bakery. We land around 10:30pm. I will be in the bakery by 2am. Weather for Saturday is predicted to be dry. Cool but dry. Got a lot to bake for the markets.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

ken hillard

Cool morning, this morning. I'm off this Sunday, that means I get to come in whenever I awake. I made it here just before 5am. I told you before, early Sunday morning, I 'm alone in the bakery, briefly. I really enjoy it, very soothing, to realize that this place really does get this peaceful. Got sack apple pies in the oven, and I have to make Tiramisu tortes today. We promised one for 7am, Monday morning. I could have said no, but yesterday afternoon, Monday morning was a long way off. Any bakers reading this can appreciate what I'm sayin'. Happens all the time. A customer wants a thirty inch tall bust of Elvis, next January 8th, no problem. I'll quote a price, which always turns out to be too low. It never fails, then the cake decorator guy, will get a speeding ticket in December, in Lake County, and he will have to be gone the entire day, on the 8th.

After our oven episode on Friday, we decided that, we would not bake in that oven Saturday night. We would have it cooled off to work on Sunday morning. We needed to vacuum out the ashes, clean the smoke covered windows and lens covers over the lights. Might funny, the timing of things. My buddy John Roeser, Roeser's bakery, on North Ave. in Chicago, had some work done on his oven a week ago, or so. This style of oven, regardless of manufacturer, they're pretty much all the same, mechanically. They all have a piece called the "Stabilizer wheel". I never paid much attention to it. I always knew it was there, didn't know why. John just had his replaced because his shelves were always unlevel. While we had the oven somewhat apart, I mentioned to Ken(Ken lives here in the neighborhood, more later) that the shelves always "Rocked" more than they should, in this oven. I'll be a sonofagun, since we took the oven door off, now I could see. The stabilizer wheels in this oven were about a half inch off, from where they should be. Now, if we hadn't had the little oven fire we had, the same week as John had the work done on his oven, my shelves would still be rockin.
Ken Hillard is a guy who lives here in the neighbor hood. He does a lot of painting and clean up down at the YMCA. He’s always around. Drinks a lot of coffee. You’ll never see Ken walkiong around the neighborhood without a Bennison cup in his hand. He turns up all hours of the night. He does some delivery work for the bakery, waters the flowers, moves the snow, does light repair work, and he was involved in the set up of this oven, I’v e been talkin’ about. He’s alittle guy, so whenever we need someone to crawl in the oven and fetch somethin’ out, Ken’s the guy. Sunday morning he leveled the shelves and cleaned up the fire remains.
Turn’s out Saturday was an awesome day for business. Rachel Ray turned up down at the GCM, so that really energized the crowd there. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, so the street s were full of people. We only had one wedding cake, so I count that as a favor. They day had a feel like there should have been a football game over at the high school.
Gotta get upstairs and get busy on some more plum goods, sellin’ fast.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

smoke inhalation

Another Friday night in the books. Just about now, the night staff is startin' to wonder how many more weeks of farmer's markets do we have. Sorry to say, not really, I'm really glad about it, they've extended the Aville market to end on October 7th.

Ya know, life in the bakery never gets dull. When we bake our sheets of puff pastry for napoleons, we sandwich the raw puff pastry sheets between sheet pans. That way they bake nice and flat/smooth without any monster blisters. We use a sheet pan, a piece of pan paper, the dough, pan paper and another sheet pan. This pan paper I'm speaking of is what we bake, pretty much, everything on. It is treated with silicon, so baked foods don't stick. It is available in different grades or thickness. We buy a "Middle of the road" one. We manage to use them two or three times, as long as the stay dry. When we bake these sheets, we bake them for twenty five minutes and then pull the top pan and paper off. We continue to bake them for another ten minutes or until the sheet has a nice amber colour. I prefer to bake them in our rotating/reel/carousel/paddle wheel oven. A big insulated box with eight shelves that rotate. Inside the oven, down at the bottom, is a huge burner, the full width of the oven.

Yesterday, while baking napoleon sheets, the timer went off after the first twenty five minutes, and someone, took the top pan off of each sheet, but didn't pull the paper off. A couple more points. We bake them three at a time. It takes three sheets of pastry to make one sheet of napoleons. Second point, whoever did it, doesn't even work here, because nobody knew nothin'. The afternoon continued, I was in the office. The sheets for the napoleons were baked as they should be. Knock at the office door, Marc says "You better come up stairs, there is a fire in the oven". Sure enough, there was a small flame in the bottom of the oven. I think what happened, the circulating fan in the oven blew the paper sheets off the pastry sheets, into the bottom of the oven, and they caught fire. Once the oven door was opened there was ample oxygen and the fire just roared. Then my son fessed up, that he dropped two loaves of cracked wheat bread in the oven, the day before. It's an eerie feeling to see flames in your oven, as tall as the oven door. We poured some water on it, and it eventually went out. We had the oven near full of fruit galettes. Jennifer was fighting the smoke for the entire bake. We opened the damper, which leads directly outside, thru the roof. I've spoke about our exhaust fan that blows out onto the sidewalk. Most days it fills the neighborhood with tempting aromas, butter and cinnamon. Today, not so much. Made the intersection here look like Pittsburgh or Gary.

Gotta get upstairs and make some coffee cake dough. Tomorrow we will make, what will be the last of the fresh blueberry coffee cakes, for the summer. Kinda sad.

Friday, August 21, 2009

1 cent cookie sale

Nice cool morning. I stepped outside in the middle of the night, and it almost smelled like pumpkin pie. About ten more degrees cooler. Should be a good weekend, business wise. Although folks have one more week until it's back to school. Our bakery is on a corner. There is an alley that runs behind our bakery. The alley entrance is on Maple street. Just across the alley from us, is a new orthodontics office. Big office, gotta have four chairs. They just opened a week ago, seems like they are keeping summer hours for now. I expecting big things from them. I can see a lot of mom's droppin' kids off and coming to the bakery. We sent a cake over to them that other day, and we heard a lot of good response. My dad walked it over there. A woman was sitting there, waiting, and she offered that the bakery was her next stop. I don't really care where they come from, as long as they turn up here.

Once they are back in school, things really heat up here. As you might know, we are on the campus of Northwestern University. We really don't do much directly with the students, but it has a huge impact on the downtown area. we do a lot with birthday cake deliveries to the campus, as well. We bake for the sorority and fraternity houses. The restaurants that we bake for, really step it up, when the campus is full.

Once school starts, shortly thereafter, we start baking for Didier Farms, out in Prairie View, Illinois. Yes, that is a place, actually I think it's an intersection. Aptakistic and Buffalo Grove roads. Huge, huge business. Everything pumpkin. Pies, breads, cookies, muffins, sourdough bread and loads of sack apple pies. On Monday, Columbus day, it's their busiest day of the season. Ya gotta see it to believe it. They have the Lake County sheriff there directing traffic. School buses parked, lined up like German soldiers, for as far as one can see. I'd like to think it's our baked goods that do it, but I think maybe not. They have hayrides, haunted house, pumpkin patch and they fry donuts right there. We go out there with a van full of stuff, about every other day.

Back to school means we run our "Back to school, 1 cent cookie special". We offer all of our large cookies, buy a dozen, get a second dozen for a penny. We started it once I became a parent, and I realized how out of money everyone is, around mid September. Been doin' it for years. There are a couple varieties we only make for the cookie sale, English rocks and ginger molasses. Both are old school original Bennison formulas. The English rock cookie has raisins and walnuts in a butter cookie type dough. The ginger molasses cookie is turned over into coarse crystal sugar and topped with raspberry jam before it's baked.

Gotta get started upstairs. Got plenty to do. Markets should be busy tomorrow, weather is on our side.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

the only thing I like about august

Last night it happened, our first Aville market that involved rain. The worst part was, once we huddled everything inside the tent, the sun would come out. Get everything re-situatued, and it would sprinkle again. We were off to a great start, better than ever! Don't know if people were trying to beat the rain or what. It really never rained very hard, but it just kept coming. We didn't bake around it either. We loaded up. Needless to say our goods didn't fare as well as the farmer's.

The GCM, in the morning was very good. Store did very well yesterday also. Seems like the phone rang all day. Forever seeing the store folks walk around with an open laptop. That's a good sign. Whenever you see a laptop go towards the cake decorators, expensive items result.

I'm not a big fan of the month of August. It's typically hot, humid, slow, muggy, etc. The biggest bright spot for this month is Italian plums, prune plums. I love to bake with them. We received our first case, Tuesday. On Wednesday we made plum kuchen. We even made it in a square foil pan, for the market. For our kuchen we use our Danish dough. We roll it out to fit the pan and kinda "Rim up" the edges. We spread on a blend of pastry creme and almond creme, and strategically add the pitted, sliced plums. We then allow the dough to rise some, and we edge it with streussel, and sprinkle the plums with cinnamon sugar. We bake it and glaze it with apricot glace. It's one of my favorites. A piece of plum kuchen and a heavy shot of sweetened whipped creme. Can't go much further than that.

A coupe reasons I like to bake with plums. First we have a "Plum pitter". It's an old gadget that clamps to the table, and a little cup where the fruit sits. It has blade shaped like six spokes of a wheel. When the blade is forced thru the fruit it cuts it into six attached wedges, and forces the pit out the bottom. We can cut and pit a whole case of plums in minutes.

Second, they are easy to bake with. Even if they remain a little firm, after baking, they still taste great. We bake them into almond tarts and galettes. A galette is an open face kinda pie. We roll out our pie pastry and place it over a stainless steel ring that is sitting on a baking sheet. The rings are one inch high and seven and a half inches in diameter. We "Blouse" the dough down in the ring so it loosely lines the ring and hangs over the edge. We pipe straight almond creme in the bottom and sprinkle it with bread crumbs. The crumbs absorb any juices that result from baking. We pile in the pitted plums and sweeten them with sugar. We close up the top by folding inward, the dough that was hanging over the side of the ring. The result is an open top with the fruit exposed. We bake and glace them.

Not goin' upstairs today. I have fallen behind, again, here in the office. I got an email last night from the folks at Pastoral Artisan Cheese. They are opening a third location in the new French market, adjacent to the Ogilvie transportation center. When the whole indoor French market idea came about, I was very excited about it. Then word came that it was going to be open six days a week, no thanks. The folks at Pastoral are going to give us a chance to be involved regardless. I have more faith in the project now. Greg and Ken, principles at Pastoral, don't make many mistakes. Sound business guys. If the rest of the vendors at the market are equivalent to Pastoral, it will be a very successful endeavor.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

kudos to marc levy

Great news! Marc Levy is a Certified Baker! I got the results from the RBA last night. Great job Marc! During the test, Marc had some trouble with the oven temperature. Each candidate was assigned a single deck, in a stack of deck ovens. They were allowed to set the temperature wherever they chose to. Marc had his set correctly, but it wouldn't come up to the proper temperature. His white bread was in the oven, for what seemed like forever. Turns out, since it was in the oven so long, it started to dry out. The moisture loss results in under weight bread. But his overall performance overcame any loss of points he suffered.

It's hard to appreciate the difficulty of baking in an unfamiliar environment. When one is baking in their own surroundings, you allegedly know where everything is. You understand the idiosyncrasies of your own equipment. You know where the oven is hottest and how to manipulate the thermostat. When you are in a strange environment, and you have one chance, it's tough. Even mixer speeds are different. But if you are a certifiable candidate. You can overcome these hurdles.

We had seven master baker candidates and four certified baker candidates. Two master bakers passed. Nancy Carey, from Chicago, and Brad Hempel from Minneapolis, are now Master Bakers. Nancy started Red Hen Bread, here in Chicago. She is not so active in the bakery anymore. These days she is a chef instructor at the Culinary and Hospitality Institute of Chicago. Very talented, she did a terrific job with Red Hen. Brad has his own bakery in Minnesota. He is now working for a food service outfit at one of the colleges in, or near Minneapolis.

Luminita Cristea is now a Certified Baker. Lumi is a graduate of the baking and pastry program at Kendall. She is currently on her way to Scottsdale, Arizona, where she will be the head bread baker at the Phoenician resort in Scottsdale.

Cheryl Adkins was the final candidiate to pass the level of Certified Baker. Cheryl is a chef instructor at a culinary school in Holland, Michigan.

Congratulations to all of you! Now that the results are out, I can talk about the exam. I am the certification chair for the RBA. Even I, didn't know the results until last night. I thought the judges were very sincere in their judging. They never seemed hurried or uninterested. They were genuinely committed to the process. You candidates passed, truly on your merits. This was not done Chicago style,as we say. I thought the test was fair, and a true example of your abilities.

We, as the testing body, are evolving. We made some changes for this test that I thought were very good. We have a long way to go. Thanks to all that spent their weekend at Kendall, the certification process survives because of you and for you. For those of you in the baking community, uninterested in certification, we'll be here, ever improving the process.

For those of you, the most important ones, retail bakery customers, we just raised our standards a little more for you.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Today's forecast is not good. Been raining since 5am. Humidity is very high. Tough to keep a crust on our baguettes today. The night guys are supposed to cool the oven down some, and bake them a little longer. I don't think that happened. That idea was great back n the day when demand for our bread wasn't as high as it is now. Testimony to the idea that the more volume you do, the less you can keep an eye on things. Being an American, I want absolutely as much out of that oven as we can get.

I got here this morning and discovered an noon order for a dobosch torte. Dobosch, is an Austrian thing. A few months back, "Saveur" magazine did a story on Demel's Konditorei. Demel's is in Vienna. They claim to be the originator.They have been around for four hundred years or something like that. Beautiful pictures. Really portrays the European lifestyle. Coffee break in the middle of the day. Read a newspaper when you're not, in the bathroom. Hard to imagine. It's simple multilayered cake made from simple sponge cake filled and iced with chocolate buttercreme. The rub is that each layer needs to have a top and bottom crust. Baked in a sheet and cut out. I learned that from Karl Kleinert. I worked for him in 1976. Kleinert's Konditorei on Lincoln avenue, in Chicago. Karl would bake a sheet for each torte. Cut it into six cake "disks". He would use five for each torte. Baked them a little darker, so the crusts were pronounced. Pretty typical to just use yellow cake layers and split them, but Karl wanted it done differently. At Demel's they decorate the torte with fans made from a disk of sponge cake that has been spread with caramelized sugar. That's how we do it here. Real pain, caramelized sugar is hot, and it seizes quickly. Ya gotta get it spread on the sponge cake and cut into wedges, before the sugar hardens. Takes a little getting used to. Not only is it difficult to do, it has limited shelf life. Humidity in a refrigerator will liquefy that caramelized sugar, while you are standing there looking at it.

Karl was a great, great pastry guy. No bread. Only tortes, torte slices, cookies, bienenstich and some meringue pastries. He made incredible stuff. He pretty much worked by himself. He was difficult to get along with. He had "Konditor Gesucht" painted right on the window, "Pastry baker wanted". Didn't bother with a paper or cardboard sign. Whoever he hired would be gone in a few days. He wanted stuff just so. He had a seven pan oven and a thirty quart mixer. That was it. He worked night and day. Hard to imagine how one man could do what he did. I learned a lot from him. He made magnificent stuff. He moved to Florida and others tried to operate on that corner, but no one ever made it.

well, gotta get upstairs and get busy with my dobosch. They'll be here at noon.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

call the police

Sorry I haven't posted lately. Had a chance to get away to Wisconsin and I took it. Never pass up a chance like that.

Yesterday was not a good day. To much goin' on in the city. For the first time, that I can remember, there were vendors that didn't participate in the GCM. I come to find out that the majority of the parking down there is closed because of the air show. Air show traffic was a joy during a wedding cake delivery to twenty sixth street. When Mike left, we sent him with bottled water, blankets and canned food. we all know how Chciago winter's can be. We sold out of pastries early, and the girls came back with thirty or forty loaves of bread. Kinda unheard of. We even had bread left at our Evanston market. The customer count here in our store was down a little. We even had sandwiches left. We did however sell out of Toulouse, our breakfast sandwich. Mark said he even kicked them up a little. The past few Saturday's we were out early.

Yesterday, Chris showed us a new breakfast pastry. On Friday he mixed brioche dough. It's pleasing to talk to a baker. I asked him how much eggs, sugar and butter he was using in his brioche dough, out in Vegas. He replied "Fifty, tweleve and fifty". Meaning fifty percent and twelve percent, based on the flour weight. I said "Spot on". Him and I learned from the same source. Phillipe LeCorre, at the NBC. Chris was an intern there. He scaled balls of brioche dough at thirty grams. He placed three in a monkey bun cup. The cup we use is made in Italy, maybe three inches in diameter. An inch and a half tall. Thin brown, polished paper. He proofed them pretty good and brushed them with beaten eggs. Sprinkled them with pearl sugar, and baked them. On Friday we also made a hazelnut ganache with hazelnut paste, sixty four percent chocolate and butter. We are shooting for "Nutella". Once these brioche cups were cool, he injected them, from th etop with twenty five grams of hazelnut ganache. They were beautiful. Exepect to see them in our store on a daily basis, come cooler weather. What more need be said, brioche dough, crunchy pearl sugar and praline ganache. It's as far as you can go. You could be arrested for anything better. Warrants should be issued.

I'm gonna start buying up sugar. I told Patti, she might have to leave her car outside the garage until Christmas. I hear sugar will be scarce. Don't know if it's true, of course. lots of speculative emails goin' 'round. Could be the sugar players are long on sugar. Somethin' 'bout the government restricting imported sugar, bill on the senate floor 'bout changin' that. I do my best the understand compound interest in a savings account. I'm also a lot better with the Sox players batting avaerages'. We will pay what we need to pay. Thank God for the media,(in this case) my customers will be aware of the situation and be understanding if we need to raise prices.

I gotta end this. A customer is waiting in the store, for writing on a cake.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

need a cheese monger now

What a gorgeous day yesterday. Busy everywhere. Markets both cleaned out. Store was busy. Sold out of sandwiches early. Heavy customer count yesterday. The Aville market was jumpin'. That "Dinner crawl" really drew in the folks. They pre-sold over three hundred tickets. The market there has really turned into a social event. I guess if you live in Andersonville and you're not seen at the market, ce tre gauche!

We baked Chris' "Bostock" and fresh fruit croissnts. Straight up awesome. The raspberries and blueberries kinda came apart in the oven so the pastries were very moist. He baked them longer than I expected. The crust got a little crunchy, but was offset by the moisture. The bostock had a lot of things going on. Crunchy almonds, sweetness, a hint of orange, richness from loads of butter. I went and saw the Julia Child movie, Sunday night. The movie was o.k.. I thought it could have been more about Julia Child, and less about the book thing. Really more of a girls' movie. Meryl Strep was incredible. She did a great job. Anyway, lots about butter in that movie.

Bostock sold out first, last night. We only had twenty four pieces. A few folks came back looking for more. Did well with our pretzels last night. They were nice, for a first try. While I'm at the convention in Germany, in October I'll research them a little more. Mr. Hamelman out in Vermont is an old pretzel twister from way back. I'm gonna give him a shout as well.

The average sale at the Aville market is still increasing. People are buying more and more. Lots of mentioning about freezing and what they use our bread for. One lady said she served chicken salad on our raisin fennel bread. It really works when customers stand there and promote our product to other customers. There was a lady last night, almost got nasty with another customer when she questioned one of our prices.

Well this day is off to a typical start. Joe just came downstairs and said we are out of Swiss cheese. It's easy to find a five pound loaf of swiss cheese at six in the morning, right?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

yuppie crack

Gonna be a beautiful day today at the markets. I stood outside early this morning looking for these alleged falling stars, didn't see any. Inside tip, if you are near Broadway and Diversey on Sunday the 16th, the Pastoral cheese shop, 2945 N. Broadway, is celebrating their fifth anniversary. They will be giving away free baguettes with a purchase.

Today Chris made some "Bostock". Very traditional French item. They use day old brioche loaves and slice it pretty thick. Here we used a pullman style loaf, so it yields a square slice. he cut them every bit of an inch thick. He dipped them in simple made with orange juice. He then spread on a pretty thick layer of almond creme. He tossed together sliced blanched almonds, sugar and a little kosher salt. He ran them around the oven a few times to dry them out. He covered the top of the almond creme with these almonds and we will bake them this afternoon. This is an item that I've always wanted to make. My buddy and teammate William Leaman, who has Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle, calls bostock, "Yuppie crack". He says people get to his bakery early morning almost "Strung out. Gotta score some bostock".

Chris has a lot of good restaurant/fine dining/pastry experience. Hell, he works for Thomas Keller out at the French Laundry in Napa. Bouchon is a branch of the French Laundry. Today he also made fresh fruit croissants out of plain croissants. He splits them in half, lays them open face and spreads them with almond creme. Covers the almond creme with fresh fruit. today we did blueberries and rasp raspberries. He then almost "Packs" them with streussel. They end up pretty heavy. Once they are baked they get dusted with powdered sugar. I'm looking forward to seeing them baked.

well gotta get busy. I just found out that tonight is the "Andersonville dinner crawl". It should bring a lot of extra folks to the market tonight. Lots of yuppies.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

who thought of that

Yesterday was a loss. I was totally overwhelmed in the office. If I'm out of the office for any stretch of time, it seems forever before I'm caught up. Still not there, but I did gain some ground. I had my new payroll input training session yesterday. It seems pretty straight forward.

A good friend, Chris Herrin, arrived in Chicago yesterday. He will spend some time here at our bakery, helping out/working. Very talented guy. He is the pastry chef at Bouchon Bakery in the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas. I've known Chris for some time. He was an intern at the NBC in the mid 90's. Very close to William Leaman, my teammate on the 2005 team. Anxious to get some ideas from him. He's very knowledgeable when it comes to incorporating unique kitchen ideas with bakery type pastry. Yesterday, he told me that if you cryovac wrap a banana for ten minutes, you can unwrap it and use it on top of open face fruit tarts and the banana won't turn brown. Something about changing the composition of the banana. He mentioned other things, but the banana trick sticks out in my mind.

Today, we are going to shape the pretzels that we will be selling tomorrow night at the Aville market. I'm planning on making plain traditional laugenbrezels and the long, cheese filled laugenstagen. We will mix and shape them today and let them ferment overnight under refrigeration. Tomorrow we will dip them in a caustic soda bath, and bake them. The caustic soda is what gives them the colour and shine. It is very dangerous to work with. You need to wear rubber gloves and goggles when dipping the pretzels. I'm not sure what chemically transpires with the lye bath. I think it has to do with more denaturing of the wheat protein. Stuff sure does work. It's one of those things, ya wonder how that started. Did Franz wake up and say to Hans, "I have an idea. Let's try dipping raw bread in this bucket of very poisonous liquid". Or did a piece of raw dough fall into the same bucket, and Franz decided to bake it anyway?

Turns out Monday was a pretty good day in our store. Customer count was good.
Re-instilled my faith. It's easy for me to get discouraged over a, even slightly slow day. I guess I think to myself, "It's finally hit us. So far the economic slowdown really hasn't found us". I think it's true of most bakeries. I've said it before, we are offering real value.

Gotta run, gotta get things started. Gonna be a beautiful day Wednesday. Markets should be rollin'.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Filemon's back

Well. the rain never came. We planned for rain and I shot myself in the foot. Both markets yesterday called around 10:30 looking for more stuff. Neither one of them sold completely out. the each came back with three or four loaves of bread. We sold all the pastries and we were out of baguettes at both markets early. The store was busy, busy early, and by mid afternoon, things quieted down. I guess everybody is either at Lolapalooza, or at the beach, eatin' ice cream. Can't blame them entirely. Ice cream at the beach, sounds better than coffee and donuts.

We started off very good today. have had a good crowd since we opened. But, like yesterday, I'm expecting that to fade.

Filemon stopped by this morning. Grabbed a cup of coffee, and his usual hard roll. Lots of cream and sugar in his coffee, then the hard roll. He eats it with a spoon. He's just makin' sure all the soakers and starters are ready for tomorrow. Which they were. his par-baked frozen inventory is at a minimum. Glad to see him back. Now I can catch up in the office. I'm gonna need a snow shovel, and a leaf blower.

We're planning on making lauger pretzels for the Aville market this week. As well as Irish soda bread. Filemon and I were discussing how fast time is passing. He brought up the subject of pumpkin donuts. We always start them at Labor Day. Pumpkin pies as well. As long as the temperatures are normal. We bake for Didier farms out on Aptakistic road, near Buffalo Grove. They start about the first of October, and go thru Halloween. Lots of pumpkin stuff, pies, breads, muffins, cookies. We also do very well with sack apple pies there. Columbus Day is their big weekend. Kids don't have school that Monday. You can't imagine the crowd there. Lake County sheriff is there directing traffic. They got us working nights during the month of October.

I gotta run and get Arturo some cream cheese. He's here fillin' the cookie case. Wants to make cream cheese pinch cookies. I forgot to order cream cheese last week.

Try to stay cool.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

I should get plumbers wages

Rough night, after a long rougher day yesterday. In Filemon's absence, Mark Levy stepped up big this week. Doing everything he has needed to and then some. He should be very proud of himself. Something to be said when you create nice product under extreme pressure, and uncomfortable circumstances. People pushing you all day long for product that has been promised to customers. Game ball Marc Levy. The week is almost over.

I arrived at the bakery at 2:45 this morning. I changed into work clothes and upstairs I went. I walked past the spiral mixer only to find a huge mess. Buckets of nasty water, and a sign on the sink saying "Do not use the sink". I really don't understand it, but whenever there is a leak/spill in the bakery, the immediate reaction of a night baker is to throw dirty aprons and cardboard at it. Never once have they tried to find and eliminate the source of the leak. So of course I turned on the water, no problem, for six or seven seconds. Right out of the front of the grease trap, just like a fountain. A hole, a hole in the center of the front of the grease trap about a quarter of an inch. How do these things happen? A hole in the center of a 1/8 inch thick steel. So I turned off the water, and waited for the spewing to stop. I started mopping. More cardboard. I took the cover off the grease trap. Gotta say, most people, when they wake up on a Saturday morning, awaken to the smell of eggs and bacon. Me, not so much. Don't know how many folks reading this have ever emptied a grease trap. Not much equals that, on the potency scale. So I managed to plug the hole with a nut and bolt, two fender washers and a couple squares of cut up garden hose. I only have to make it 'til Monday morning. So far so good. Oh, nothing like picking up dirty aprons, soaked in grease trap fluid, either. Soggy cardboard. I shoulda stayed in law school.

So the floor has been mopped up. During that episode, I had to bake the fruit topped croissants and the brioche for the farmer's market. My plumbing duties kinda backed those things up, so the truck got away late for the market. Just as I pulled the rack of croissants and brioche outside, I felt the first rain drop. I didn't last long and didn't rain very heavy. I'm expecting rain today, we cut down the markets by thirty percent. This day has only one way to go.

In spite of all that, my son Guy made some really spectacular chocolate leaf tortes. He finished them this morning. We use three thin layers of chocolate cake filled with our own chocolate mousse. He cooks sugar and trickles it into whipping egg yolks. Once that is cooled he folds that into melted fifty five percent Belgian chocolate. That, then gets folded into pure unsweetened, whipped creme. He pours the mousse into acetate band, ringed cake layers. He sets these up overnight in the fridge. The next day he pours them with a chocolate glace. Once the glace sets, he covers the sides with broke up shards of thinly spread chocolate. We've been working on getting these right, for some time. Since we are using real chocolate, it's needs to be tempered. Tempering chocolate in a humid, hot, flour strewn about bakeshop, is tricky. He's learning how to use a marble slab to do this. The cakes today, had it all. Nice glace, nice and shiny. The chocolate pieces, on the outside are nice and shiny as well. The sheets of chocolate had a nice "Snap" to them, when broken. These cakes fall into that category of goods my Dad talks about "Get in your car and start driving..........." Good job Guy.

Gotta run upstairs and check my plumbing job. Hope the floor is still dry. Day bakers will, at least tell me, when they're reaching for the dirty aprons. Haven't heard anything yet. Good sign.

Friday, August 7, 2009

sproutin' seeds

Yesterday business was a little softer than the three previous days. Shouldn't come as any surprise. I think we will hold it down a little tomorrow at the markets. Prediction is rain. Sure will be uncomfortable for the afternoon wedding cake deliveries.

On Tuesday this week, Arturo made a batch of "Yogurt and grain cake". He makes a cake mix with non-fat yogurt, and he uses egg whites instead if eggs, so it's 99.9 percent fat free. We buy pasteurized grains, pre-soaked grains that we only use in this product. We add a little cinnamon and whole toasted hazelnuts. It really is pretty tasty. It sells very well when we make it. We bake it in large three pound rings and sell it by the pound. We have it all cut up and wrapped and priced near each register. It seems he waits until someone places an order for it before he makes it. Pretty often people will order an entire cake. A batch will make four ring cakes, and we usually sell out quickly.

Last night I had a discussion with Mark. He was setting up the grain "soakers" for today's sourdough grain bread production. Whole grain sourdough is one of our more popular loaves at the farmer's markets as well as everywhere else. We probably sell ten or a dozen loaves of six grain bread in our store daily. We make a blend of millet, flax, unhulled sesame, sunflower seeds and oatmeal. We buy fifty pound bags of each, and scale twenty five pounds of each(scaled when I'm present, otherwise just eyeballed) into our spiral mixer, and they run it to blend them. We scoop it all into a plastic rolling bin and work out of that. We soak the seeds at sixty four percent hydration and use them at different percentage levels, in the dough, depending on how seedy the final product should be. Friday is such a big production day that there isn't room in our refrigerator for all these buckets/tubs of soaker. Since it seems it's really turning to summer, last night we added salt to our soakers. There isn't any magical proportion. Whatever salt you add to the soaker, must be subtracted from the salt added to the dough. I think last night he added three ounces to fifteen pounds of seed mix. the salt gets dissolved in the water and poured over the seeds. We do this because, just like every other seed, as soon as water comes in contact with it, it begins to sprout. Chemical changes take place. Membranes start to deteriorate, germ and endosperm come together, etc. The warmer it is in the bakery, the faster that will happen. The salt inhibits that. The enzymes activated in sprouting will play hell with the wheat protein. That's why you can't add raw garlic to a bread dough. The enzymes in garlic are so strong, they will almost turn a dough to liquid. Probably never wondered why bagel bakers, only use toasted garlic. Roasting garlic will denature any enzymes in the garlic.

Have a good day. I just got here and discovered a 7am, chocolate mousse torte order. The order was accepted late yesterday, after I left. The mousse guy gets here at 8am.

Happy Friday.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

soda bread. I can't believe it!

Yesterday, oh what a day. We were two guys short, and we managed to get it all done. We made it on time to the Aville market last night. Both markets yesterday, were a little sluggish. We managed to sell all but a few things at both markets. But things never became overwhelming. Could be, folks with a life, have found their way out of town. Every week at the Aville market, sales are higher than the week before. That held true last night. It was a beautiful night.

One thing that I firmly believe, customers at the Aville market are growing to trust us. I can speak so securely about the Aville market, because I'm there. I don't want to make light of our other markets, but I don't get there very often. I can make an evening market, but daytime, not so much. A lady last night bought six almond croissants. Evidently she tries to make them last from market to market. Last night she said "This week I'll try six. Last week, five made it until Sunday". People come back to our table and seem in shock after me telling them that our miche will last for weeks, because it's real sourdough. Starting to hear more things like "I'll take your word for it" or "if you say so". Lots of folks askin' for business cards, "So they can find us during winter months". Fellow told me last night "I'm from San Fransisco, and I haven't found a bakery here that compares with the ones back home, until I found this market". The absolute best thing last or eight people came looking for our Irish soda bread, that we had last week. Two people I remember when they bought soda bread the previous week, I told them "Next week I want a report". Both of them said it was very good. First time ever, anyone looked for our soda bread. We switched to a formula I got from a very good bread baker, guild member, here in Chicago. Not comfortable disclosing who it is, but she makes great bread. Up until this point we made soda bread that people only ate out of obligation.

Well gotta cut this short. Lots to do upstairs. Looks like it's going to be a good weekend, business wise. Once again more wedding cakes than I'd like to deal with, but, oh well. I hear it's gonna get hot. We've been lucky so far this summer. Just so it doesn't rain.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

wonder what other sales I've missed

I was correct in my belief that yesterday was a busy day, in our store. Sometimes it seems busy and I look at the numbers and I'm disappointed. Lots of traffic yesterday. Seemed like every twenty, thirty minutes, a store person brought back a cake, to be written on. It was a beautiful day. I guess a little on the warm side. Even I sat outside yesterday and ate my lunch. I never sit down for lunch, let alone outside. Damn bugs always find me.

A very pleasing moment, this morning. Cornell Gorham, one of our night farmers market/holiday/vacation/as we need him, guys, came to me and ask "when the new crop flour would be in"? Comforting to know, he's interested and cares enough to notice. He said "things felt different last night". We had a couple pallets delivered with a mill date of May 29th. I don't try to keep it all separated like a lot of places. We just don't have the room. Hard to tell exactly what flour ended up in the bin, that went into whatever he was working on. He also, reversed the weights of baking soda and baking powder, in a large batch of scones, last night. He came to me and we got that straightened out. We have dry scone mix for the next few weeks.

We baked the raspberry brioche that I spoke of yesterday. It was incredibly aromatic when it came out of the oven. It was almost fake, it was so strong. Anxious to hear what customer have to say.

It's good to have Arturo back. So many things we just didn't get to, while he was gone. He's responsible for things like smiley face cookies, black and whites, all the large and small cookies. He makes all the fillings and icings, we use for cakes and pastries. The list goes on and on.

One of things that Arturo makes is our "kugelhupf". Nowhere near, what I would call "authentic kugelhupf", but equally as tasty. We make an all butter, sour creme, pound cake, and bake it in a babka, or turkshead shape. Simple, sugar, butter, eggs, sour creme, organic vanilla bean, cake flour and baking powder. Delicious. We also use it in a number of our wedding cakes. Years ago, we used to make a lot of it. One of those things we would have in our store all the time. For one reason or another, we got away from it. Sorry to say, there was a time when I really focused on making big batches of things, and loading our freezer. Looking back, I'm very comfortable it was damaging to our business. John Roeser pointed out to me, a long time ago, "nothing gets better in the freezer". Since my introduction to the BBGA and the NBC, and my relationship with Paris, I've learned a lot. When you go into a bakery in Europe, they are tiny. Nowhere to hold a lot of product. They make it and sell it. I've said before that the goods there aren't any better than here, but they are fresh. While Arturo was away, I made a batch of kugelhupf for a wedding cake. The recipe also made an extra five, six pounds of batter. I baked it into our retail size loaves. I went in our store for something and I heard a customer ask for kugelhupf. Sue's reply was "no, I'm sorry we don't have that. I'll check to see if we have any in our freezer". Customer explained that she came all the way from Batavia, she used to live in Evanston. Customer said, word for word "I don't care for those that come out of your freezer, because they taste like the freezer". We would run them thru our wrapping machine, so they were very well sealed. Right away I told Sue that I just took some from the oven and told her where they were. I said "I have five ready". Woman said "I'll take them all".

Of course now I wonder how many sales I miss like that.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

levain in the soaker?

The absolute most gratifying thing about this business, is the fact that I can't stop learning. There are so many different ways to do something, and they are all correct. I suppose the flip side of that is, everyday I see something different. Usually, at least once a day, I'm in disbelief. The old saying "just when you think you've seen it all". I'm trying to make light of the fact, that it's not always a good thing.

One of the items on the CMB test was a grain loaf. Standard formula, Bread, whole wheat, and rye flours. The formula was disclosed on the first day of the test because it utilized a soaker. A blend of five different seeds/grains that were to be soaked overnight using sixty four percent water. It was candidates choice about prefermenting some of the flour. Candidate Petr Jacobs, a very skilled German baker, works for SAF yeast in Montreal. He did something I've never seen before. He added twenty two percent liquid levain to the soaker. It made such a difference. Since liquid levain is equal parts flour and water, he deducted the weight of each from the overall formula. His bread had overwhelming flavour. He went on to tell me about various grain fermentation practices he learned in Germany. Petr also used a star cutter to form his grain loaves. It would be impossible to try to describe it, but it was very cool. Something else I hadn't seen before.

This week will turn out to be more work than I anticipated. Filemon's son, Diego has been working this summer. A few extra hands for the market season. Good little baker. I guess when a guy takes off for a "family" vacation to the Dells, he takes his family. Talk about steppin' on a rake. So now we are four hands short. Oh well, this too, will pass.

Yesterday, we bought a full flat of fresh raspberries. Last night we made brioche dough and today we are going to make fresh raspberry brioche coffee cakes. Gonna be awesome. We roll out the dough spread it lightly with pastry creme, sprinkle on the fruit, roll it up and cut it into pieces and proof and bake it in a round form. I like to use as much fresh fruit as possible in the summer. Won't be long and we will have Italian plums and better peaches. Once the freestone peaches are out, we plan on making peach jam, and making fresh peach topped croissant.

I've reached the point in my morning, where the world won't leave me alone. I'm giving in and heading upstairs. Got a lot to get ready for tomorrow's markets.

Monday, August 3, 2009

my first cert weekend

Arturo is back. Filemon is gone this week. Gonna be rough week. I think summer is finally here. If not, it's August for sure. I can tell by yesterday's customer count. I've always lived with the belief that if we can survive an August, we can make it thru the next eleven months.

I made it through the first certification exam weekend that was under my watch. I was very pleased. I thought it went well. Most importantly, the only thing I forgot was the formula books, on Saturday morning. Kinda important, but my son bailed me out.

The judges did a great job. Bill Moore, Tom Vacarro and Debra Socha, were outstanding. Very, very thorough. Patiently went over everything with great interest. So many times I see judges in this situation hurriedly doing their job. I'm not sure how many passed. I won't know anything until early next week. I will say the candidates, eight hours were full. They pretty much had to stay with it, at a very brisk pace to finish on time. As a part of the exam, each candidate, must display eight products in order to get credit for completing the exam. Regardless of where the item is in the production process. When the final bell rings, the ovens get turned off. The candidate has thirty minutes to get the goods displayed. I've seen raw product displayed. But better to do that and fail the category, than be marked as incomplete. This was not the case yesterday. They all completed their goods. There were plenty of items that were rushed through, but they were all there.

Chef Melina Kelson,CMB, was our on site coordinator. She gave up her weekend at home, spent twelve, thirteen hours each day with us. All while several months pregnant. She was there to run and get anything the candidates asked for. RBA is in her debt.

Howard Cook spent the weekend with us. Howard is the education and certification director for the RBA. He happened to be in town for a RBA Executive Committee meeting, that was held last weekend, here in Chicago.

So, it's on to the next exam. Next March in Hyde Park, New York. Much to do to keep improving our process. We have our next board conference call, the third week in August.

This weekend, further enhanced my belief in the certification process. I may have mentioned, there are many, many bakers that are not interested in certification. That's fine, but do it quietly. This past weekend, the judges and I were discussing bakers who, almost make fun, of our process. Well, it was unanimous, amongst the same group, then come test. I hear many bakers say, "I can't charge anymore for my goods, if I were a CMB, so why certify", I agree, you won't get anymore for your donuts. "Ice a layer cake and you are a CMB"? European bakers spend years in school to become bakers. I know they chuckle at our process. Their opinion "a long weekend at you are a master baker"? Give us a break, we've been at this for twenty five years. Besides, I've seen a lot of European bakers, fail our exam. It's tough, not only about ones' baking skill's, laying out a good plan, exercising time management, etc. To pass, you must have three things in the works, at all time. Keep your oven full.

If you're thinkin' 'bout certifyin', get in line now. Cause every exam is going to become more difficult. New sheriff in town. As our process improves, the level goes up. So come ice your layer cake. Try it in a different location, with unfamiliar buttercreme, while you're trying to maneuver product in and out of an unfamiliar oven, while other bakers are trying to do the same, while the clock is running, while your being judged, while you need to keep your table clean, and your apron white.

Dare ya.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

green peas and a plastic scraper

The first day of our test weekend is done. It's the morning after. It was an exhausting day. For both myself as well as the judges, site co-ordinator and candidates. We ended up with four CB candidate participants. Marc Levy from here at Bennison's, and Luminita Cristea, from Chicago, who used to be at Bennison's. Cheryl Adkins, is a Culinary instructor from Holland, Michigan and Joungmee Park is from Madison, Wisconsin. They all performed very well. they had their success's and their struggles. As required, Marc made two perfect coffee cakes. Magazine cover quality. Lumi iced her layer cake with perfection. Cheryl turned out the nicest sticky buns I've seeb at one of these exams, and Joungmee made an apple pie, that when I saw it cut, I said "we don't make pies that nice". I was very proud of them, 'specially Marc. They should be proud of themselves. Proud that they did it. So very few have done it, compared to how many could do it. The same is true of the CMB candidates that will bake again today. I don't know the results, nobody will for at least a week. At this point the results are irrelevant. The four that finished yesterday are better bakers because of it. They pushed themselves to learn new skills and exercise them in unfamiliar surroundings. The bakery world is better for it.

I think the greatest reason I'm involved in this whole process, is because of the bakers I meet. We are a unique bunch. Our profession is based on early morning starts, and we are busiest when other folks are enjoying their lives, ie. Christmas and Easter. Bakers are "salt of the earth people". there is an older fellow baking today. Woodward Powell. When you're back is turned to him, he sounds just like Bill Clinton. They are both from Arkansas. He seems kinda "a good olde boy". Always smiling. Can't totally stand up straight. Got the look like he spent his life rollin' biscuit dough with a wooden rolling pin. In every bakery, everywhere, us bakers use a "plastic scraper". In culinary school they are referred to as "bowl scrapers". They are the most used, abused, coveted, versatile, taken for granted, valuable, ignored, useful piece of plastic, in the world! They are approximately 5 1/2 inches long, 3 5/8 inches high and they weigh 24 grams. Three flat sides, and the fourth, is a little rounded to facilitate scraping round bowls. These little items can save a bakery more money, than any other tool. simply by being used to scrape the remaining, last ounce of jam or icing out of a plastic bucket. Many times a month my dad will come to me with a scraper full of whatever, and say "here". With the empty bucket in his other hand. Nothing more need be said. I know what he is implying. John Roeser said the same of his father.

Yesterday, woody, kinda looked me right in the eye, pulled a plastic scraper from his back pocket, and said, in his Clintonesque tone, "when I was a young man, starting in the bakery, I was working for a mean, old b________d". He told me "son, when you can eat green peas with one of these, you can call yourself a baker". I chuckled, a few minutes later, I laughed a little harder, on my way home, in the car, alone, I laughed until I cried.

Wait until I bring that up during the next certification board meeting. Gonna be hard to create parameters for that.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

testing day is finally here

No time to blog today. Busy at Kendall college judging the master baker exam. I got here this morning and I left the box of forula sheets, judges packets and the scoring sheets, at the bakery. Called my son and he saved the day.

Things have settled down considerably. Nervousness seems to be subsiding. The bakery world is improving as you read.

By tomorrow afternoon, we'll see what else I've forgotten.

Letchaknow how they make out tomorrow.