I’m a head baker now.
No, this does not mean I bake heads. (Although if you prepped ’em for me just right, I would pop ’em in my oven & make sure the eyelids came out nice & crispy.)
Here’s what the Assistant Baker does at Holly B’s Bakery (where “Holly’s Buns Are Best”):
–takes dough made during the previous shift and fills, rolls, and/or twists it into cinnamon rolls, butterhorns, brioches & rugelach
–scoops or chops and presses cookie dough into flat rounds
–makes macaroons and chocolate chip cookies from scratch (these doughs don’t keep as well, plus our fridge isn’t that big)
–assembles & cuts out scones & biscuits with pre-made dry mixes
–makes brownies & bars….
…and puts all of the above on racks for the Head Baker to decide when to bake.
Here’s what the Head Baker does:
–makes bread doughs & sets them up to rise
–rolls out, fills & assembles danish and about a zillion different kinds of croissants, working FAST so the cold dough doesn’t get sticky and refuse to roll
–shapes, rises and bakes all bread loaves, including our filled baguettes (can you say carmelized onion and brie? Mais oui!)
–bakes everything the Assistant Baker puts on the racks, keeping in mind a) how long each item might need to rise; b) how long each item might use up oven space; c) how hot said oven needs to be for said item; and d) when each item is needed up front.
Here’s what an Assistant Baker Worries About:
Am I making this right?
Here’s what a Head Baker Worries About:
Am I making this right? Am I rising anything so long it flattens? Are my ovens hot enough or too hot? Am I burning anything, or underbaking it so it falls apart when de-panned? Am I missing any special orders that need to be picked up by, God help us all, 7 am? Am I noticing whether we’re running out of any ingredients that the next shift will need? Am I paying attention to my Assistant Baker’s work in case, God help us all, she’s as much a rookie as I am?
You get the idea.
Friends from my former life, who knew I walked away from 20 years of teaching high school into a blessedly, no, miraculously stress-free life of writing and assistant baking, are now a little baffled. “You want more stress in your life…why, exactly?”
Here’s all I can tell them, all I can tell myself: After three years on the JV, I wanted to join the Varsity.
Yep, it’s more stressful. I’m already starting to dream about those little oven timers going off like panicked baby ducks. (For the record, I still dream about trying to teach out-of-control classrooms too; guess that stays with a teacher for life!)
But it is WORTH it. If I was proud of my work before, now, as a HEAD BAKER, when I see those racks of bread that I BROUGHT INTO THIS WORLD FROM RAW INGREDIENTS AND DID NOT BURN, I want to grab the nearest customer and yell, “Hey! Aren’t they gorgeous? I MADE those! Eat them! Bow down to me!”
Of course, it’s only been a week. I’ll get back to you on the stress thing.
How about you? Ever felt like you’ve bitten off more than you could chew, workwise? Ever decided it was worth it anyway? Tell me your story. You know I’ll relate.
Congratulations on your promotion. We should all bow down to the bread lady. It’s one of my favorite things. Oh, and do you have any gluten free recipes you can send our way?
Not so much recipes as tips: you can use one part tapioca flour + 2 parts rice flour as a substitute for wheat flour in any bar recipe–brownies, lemon bars, toffee bars, etc–with great results. This does NOT work for bread, however, We don’t have a gluten-free bread, so I can’t help you there. And gluten-free croissants do not exist in any universe that I know of. 🙂
Good for you! As a teacher with September rapidly approaching, being a head baker sounds like a dream job! Congratulations on your promotion. I am so impressed. As Steve Job said, “Your time is limited. Don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
Been there, for sure, Marianna. And I still remember those mid-August butterflies, even after 20+ years! Good luck with your coming year, and thanks for your words!
OMG. I’m a baked goods junkie. It’s a good thing we’re not in the same state. Otherwise, I’d visit often.
Junkies like you keep suppliers like me in biz! ‘Course, I’m a junkie too. 🙂