Thursday, March 31, 2011

Testing products

Done, done, on to the next!

So far for the Boerne Stage Bakery we have a pretty complete menu. There are a couple items we are doing from ready-made products (more on that soon), some items we are doing from recipe (aka from scratch), and some things that are a combination of the two. This is really the best strategy for a small bakery with a limited kitchen and a very limited number of employees--if we tried to make everything from scratch, we would have to charge $10 a cupcake to make a profit on the small volume we could produce. But the combination of the two ensures that we can have a steady stream of fresh baked goods in the proofer/oven/on the shelves at any point in time. It will just take careful mise en place to make sure we have it all timed right.

Those of you who know me are aware that I can be somewhat of a culinary snoot. This isn't to say that I don't like food; I really love food. But I have preconceived notions about terms like "fresh, local, organic, made from scratch" and terms like "ready-made, pre-packaged, convenience." To me, it's a black and white difference. One category is made with love, the other is made with preservatives. "I'm selling out," I glumly told myself at the thought of abandoning my three years of culinary training in favor of a frozen bread product.

I'm happy to be proven wrong.

True, not everything--not most of the things--that we've tasted from Sysco have been as good or better than homemade. Some things were as unpleasant as I'd expected. But other things are really, astonishingly palatable. I would put my name on them without cringing. And boy is it hard to turn down a flaky little puff pastry danish that you pull out of the bag onto a sheet pan, pop in the oven, ice and serve. It simply defied the hours of labor that went into my hand-made puff pastry. Hours and space that we don't have. So much butter. So much time and pampering. Versus frozen puff pastry that any of us would have been happy to claim on our final exam in Laminated Doughs.

So we're going with those, as well as dough bases (sourdough and wheat) that are incredibly easy to personalize, proof and bake. We have excellent recipes for banana streusel muffins, apple granola muffins, blueberry muffins, chocolate chip cookies and ranger cookies. We have cake pops that are an entire universe better than Starbucks'. We are finalizing quiches and kolaches (YUM!). We still want a good sugar cookie, pecan bar, and to revise our carrot cake muffin.

That's the food side of things. Just delighted with our progress. My job right now is to get these recipes to a science and make a recipe book with precise measurements of amounts, procedure, and time rested/proofed/baked. It needs to be all spelled out. Fortunately Sysco is very accommodating to new businesses starting up and they gave us a bunch of the product to play with. It should be enough.

In other news, we had a bit of a setback with staffing and need two more bakers to work evenings. No idea on front of house. I am officially on the full-time payroll in four days.

Yep, moving, shaking and baking!