Thursday, April 28, 2011

Busy-ness is Good!

People sometimes ask me how many hours a week I spend baking. Now that it's become my main source of income, thanks to Local Roots Market being open four days a week, and now that I'm also exploring other areas for selling baked goods, I think it's safe to say that over 40 hours a week are dedicated to baking. (Not that I actually have to be in the kitchen all that time, but there's always administrative work to do related to the marketing of the baked goods!)


My almond croissants remain very popular at Woo's Brews Coffee House and Cafe, and after a brief respite in late winter, I'm back to baking them almost every week. Leigh Ann is always happy to see me bringing these in the door -- and the Renaissance Man is always happy to eat the scrap ones!


Though I don't make the chocolate croissants quite as often, it's nice to switch things up a little and make some of those for the coffee house, too. And every time I make them, I think they end up looking a little better, especially now that I'm getting the hang of the chocolate drizzle. (I love the tiger-stripe effect!)


This week I went on a cracker-baking binge, making three batches of sesame crackers on Monday, and then one each on Tuesday and Wednesday. The College is starting to buy products from Local Roots to sell at the convenience store in the student center, so I'm hoping that for the last couple weeks of the semester I can sell a little extra in there.


I'm not entirely sure that this particular venture is a sustainable one for me, as I generally get only 4-5 bags out of a batch, and the time spent to make the crackers in large quantities doesn't really match up to what profit I would make on selling them. But for a couple of weeks, I can do it and see if there are ways to make the process a little more efficient. And if not... well, at least I'll be able to say I tried.


In the meantime, I keep churning out the bread and vegetable rolls for Local Roots, which holds my loyalty as my primary market. I love creating new vegetable roll fillings each week, based on what's in season -- this week it's coconut curry with Asian greens (vegan) and chard-cheddar, both using greens from a couple of my favorite fellow producers. And the bread is definitely selling well, thanks to a loyal fan base.

Other opportunities come up from time to time, too: baking filled artisan rolls (with fillings such as chocolate, rhubarb-ginger crunch, raspberry-goat cheese) for the Absent-Minded Professor's business staff meetings; developing gourmet sweet rolls for the Innkeeper's upcoming high season; and donating breads for local fundraising events. The word is spreading, and it's rewarding to find how enthusiastic people are about my baked goods.

When I was locked behind a desk, I wondered if my work really meant anything and craved the opportunity to do something more positive, more helpful to others. I'm not going to claim that baking bread and all these other treats are my contribution to "saving" the world, but I do try to offer some healthy alternatives to people, to support other local businesses, and to make people happy with what they eat.

That's a much more satisfying set of reasons to keep me busy in the kitchen...

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4 Comments:

At 4/28/2011 3:34 PM, Blogger Emily said...

How do you get the crackers on the cookie sheets? Can you just roll out a sheet of dough, place it on the sheet, and run your cutting wheel over the crackers, and they'd split apart as they bake?Or would they actually puff up and grow together?

 
At 4/28/2011 3:39 PM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

What I've always done is roll out the dough on a board, cut, then transfer individual crackers to the cookie sheet. I am considering switching to exactly what you're suggesting... they do tend to constrict as they bake. Just need to figure out the perfect size for rolling out the dough...

 
At 4/29/2011 8:51 AM, OpenID eatclosetohome said...

Wouldn't that perfect size be just about the size of your baking pan? :)

There's a very upscale cracker sold up here - excuse me, a "seeded flatbread" - that is cut into long strips and the roughly broken into 4-6" lengths. I wonder if that arose from the tedium of making individual crackers!

 
At 4/29/2011 9:22 AM, Blogger The Baklava Queen said...

Smarty pants. :-) I was thinking about the chunk of dough I'd have to rip off and roll out that WOULD then fit the pan. But... yes.

The seeded flatbread sounds like the lavash "crackers" I've made -- except that just calls for rolling out the dough ON the pan, letting it bake, then breaking it apart. Hmmm...

 

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