Wednesday, February 17, 2010

a baker can't get a break

It's that eerie calm and quiet that I haven't heard in over a week. We've been through an incredible weekend. Our paczki eating contest Saturday, Valentine's day, Sunday, and Fat Tuesday yesterday. I'm sitting in the office and there isn't that sound of racks rolling overhead, or the air compressor starting, or the elevator going up or down, just mild, lothargic rumblings.

The paczki eating contest went well, a few "Behind the scenes" blunders. We raised over $2000 for the Red Cross, got a lot of press. Next year we will do it a little different. Had quite a crowd out on the corner, traffic was slowing as it was going by. Winners Dan Furjanic and (not sure of the other fellow's name), ate 14 in 5 minutes. I heard the inside tip was to bite, not chew, and swallow with water.

It was unfair to have these holidays so close together. We couldn't really focus on one of them. Fat Tuesday won. We can only produce so many goods. We did well with Valentine's day stuff, but bein' on a Sunday, I kinda chose Fat Tuesday.

Yesterday, we were out of paczki around 1:30, king cakes about the same. Once the doors opened at 6am, after an hour or so, I told Marc, "We're a hundred dozen paczki short and a hundred king cakes short". If we'd a had 'em, we'd a sold 'em. Next year.

Some exciting news, we are closing in on the space next door. We have a key, working out some lease details. We used the space yesterday to box and stage our king cakes. It was like layin' on the beach. OMG, to have space to spread them out, in stacks, by flavour. Lookin' forward to Easter.

Fresh strawberry, whip creme paczki, clear favorites yesterday. Last night when my son left, his hand was scarlet red from handling strawberries. This is Chicago, ya gotta mix the strawberries in "Thickener", to hold 'em together. The berries we had were very nice, we bought quite a few planning on dipping 'em in chocolate, last Saturday and Sunday, never happened. I'm sure I spoke of it, we are using straight, high butter fat whipping creme, no vegetable based non-dairy toppings, in our "Whipped creme" products. We've been using straight creme in our paczki for the last three, four years. Makes all the difference in the world. Needless to say, never been one in the stale pile, so I've never eatin' one. Had a bite of one, my wife was eatin' yesterday, gotta say, pretty special stuff. What could be bad? Fresh paczki shell, sweetened whip creme, starwberries and powdered sugar. 'Nother thing I learned, best part of bein' in the bakery, I NEVER STOP LEARNIN'. I found that dusting these items with straight confectioner's sugar, they taste so much better. There is a product available to us bakers called "Donut sugar". It is a blend of fat encapsulated sugar, titanium dioxide, vanillan, corn starch,etc. Stuff doesn't melt under refrigeration, or get absorbed in a donut, the way powdered sugar does. At Armageddon, or after Armageddon, all that will be left on earth, will be cockroaches and donut sugar. We've been dustin' stuff with it for years. Now we are starting to use a blend of the two sugars.

More exciting news, I heard last night that Pierre Zimmerman is joining the faculty at the French pastry School, here in Chicago. Huge, huge opportunity for American bakers. Pierre grew up in a family bakery in Alsace. He was the Viennoiserie guy on the '96 team, and coached the French tean that won in 2008. I've met him a few times. In fact I designed by business card after his, after winning the coupe. The "Vainquer de la Coupe du Monde de la Boulangerie 2005", came from his business card, only his says "1996". I still have it. First time I met him, was at the coupe, in 2005, between the time we competed, and before it was announced we won. He gave me his business card, I read it, put it in my pocket, thought "This might come in handy". Just maybe.....


Blogger Laminatrix said...

Yeah, I got that announcement from FPS and thought it might be good to take a class w/ him if the opportunity arises. I imagine they'll have him do some three-day classes as well as the regular teaching.

Are you going to put another couple of walk-ins in the space next door? So there's room for the racks at market time? Of course, then you'll have to get some new racks, too . . .

February 17, 2010 at 9:39 AM  
Blogger Jory Downer said...

plans are an oven in the first one, a fridge in the second, and a freezer in the third. not all at once, and not all right away. my order of importance is a small spiral mixer, fridge, freezer and oven. yeah, lots of new racks.

February 21, 2010 at 11:18 AM  

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