How I discovered I didn’t want to be a commercial baker:
If you’ve ever worked in a commercial bakery, you’re probably familiar with the bins of flour so big you could dive right into them. A plastic four-cup measuring cup usually has a home in the bin, and as you reach in and take a big scoop, the measuring cup glides through the flour like a figure skater on ice. Even the process of measuring is beautiful in itself.
You name your giant mixers, understanding their quirks and moods and when to give them a break. You’re the momager of the machines, effortlessly timing your work, washing and re-washing, only to wash again. You learn that buttercream frosting has to be washed off right away, or the solidified guck on a stainless steel mixing bowl will be highly resistant to even the experienced dish scrubber.
You’re also the number one taste tester for anything you pump out of that kitchen. A quick spoonful of chocolate cake batter every hour or two does wonders for your mood. The once daunting task of icing a cake becomes second nature, the offset spatula an extension of your arm.
Sounds like a dream, right? So why did I leave?
It took a couple bakery jobs for me to realize that although dreamy, the career just wasn’t for me. There’s only so much creative control you can have in a commercial bakery when you’re not the owner of the business. If the bakery knows how to roll in the dough, so to speak, there’s a certain amount of assembly line product pushing that goes on. You’ll make the same recipes over, and over, and over again. Sometimes you might tweak them here and there, but you still end up making the same few things day in and day out.
At first, I appreciated the sameness, but still held on to the few chances I got to develop recipes of my own, within the ingredient and brand limits of the bakeries I worked for. But after a while, I always got bored. I didn’t feel like I was being intellectually challenged, and I’ve discovered this is very important to me in a job. I need huge challenges to overcome, challenges inspire me. Challenges force me to learn.
Working as a commercial baker, though exciting and visually stimulating, can be a lonely job. You’re only interacting with a few people all day, and those people often don’t change. So if you’re not super besties with your coworkers, it makes for a long, boring day. If you’re a really social person, that can sometimes be more difficult than working alone. The job might not be for me, but I have mad respect for commercial bakers. The stamina it takes to succeed in that job is inspiring.
Through food blogging, I’ve been able to develop a cohesive brand of recipes that is mine alone. I also did a complete 180 with my blog to change that brand. I’m constantly challenged with the many aspects of this job; I’m not only a baker, I’m also a marketer, web developer, photographer, designer, professional pinner…Okay, maybe that last one isn’t quite true. But with food blogging, I’m able to work in many different fields and I love them all. It’s definitely a better fit for the kind of baking that makes my heart sing.
What kind of attributes do you look for in a job? Let me know in the comments!
This cake was so much fun to make! All my favourite spring flavours (lemon, coconut, and raspberry) dance together in this adorable little six inch layer cake. The cake texture is quite dense — this is due to the extra egg yolk in the recipe. The density of the cake means a little slice goes a long way. The icing is slightly tangy due to the lemon juice, and a huge helping of raspberries with a sprinkle of coconut add a little flavour burst. If you want to get your buttercream icing as soft as I did in the picture, it’s very easy and you don’t need to buy any extra tools. In fact, all you need is a paper towel. Enjoy
Little Lemon Layer Cake
Author: Palette Dining
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour 15 mins
Serves: one 6″ cake
- 140 g (5 oz) butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 2 eggs + 1 egg yolk
- zest of one lemon
- 1/3 cup whole milk + 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, stirred in a small bowl to curdle
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 c butter, softened
- 2 cups icing/powdered sugar
- 2 TB lemon juice
- 6 oz raspberries
- 2 TB shredded coconut
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter and flour the sides of two 6″ cake pans, then place a piece of parchment on the bottom. To cut a circle of parchment, trace the bottom of the pan on the parchment with a pencil, then cut.
- In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and lemon zest and mix. Add the milk and lemon juice mixture and mix on low until well combined. Your batter will look slightly curdled — that’s okay!
- In a separate, small mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add the dry mix to the wet batter and mix on low to combine until there are few lumps. Divide the batter between the two cake pans and bake for 35-45 min, or until a toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
- To make the frosting, add the butter, icing sugar, and lemon juice to a mixing bowl. Starting on low, mix together and slowly increase to high until the frosting is light and fluffy.
- Begin with frosting in between the two layers. Lightly press the two layers together, and using a spatula, frost around the sides of the cake and over the top. Top with raspberries and coconut.
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten via Food Network