Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Christmas in March

Our Kitchen Aid Mixer turned Fatal earlier this month. The maintenance department was able to fix it the first time it broke so we called them when it went wonky. They got it running again but warned us that the next time it died they really couldn't do anything for it. This is the 2nd mixer that has died on us in the 28 months I've been at this job so we went looking for something slightly more industrial. Meanwhile we limped along for a couple weeks with the help of a meat mallet but eventually gave up.

We have been without a small mixer for the past 3 weeks. We have a 30 qt  mixer in the bakeshop that will whip as little as 1 cup of cream or egg whites  plus a 12 qt & a 20 qt in the far kitchen. (By far I mean it takes 25 steps to get there) And yet one of the bakers is whipping cream by hand everyday then complaining that her wrist is hurting. DUH!! If there is a long way or a hard way or way to turn a 5 minute project into 3 hours she'll find it. I keep telling her to "work smarter not harder" but I think that the point is lost on her.  I have even outright ordered her to use the other mixers but apparently it's too much work to mise en place, put it on a sheet pan and carry it across the kitchen?!?

Anyhow... back to the mixer. We ordered an 8 qt Univex countertop model, it's industrial and the planetary head is attached to the gear thingy rather than just kinda stuck up there without any hardware to hold it in place. (I understand the difference but not sure exactly how to explain it) Plus it's still made in the USA. I've seen a picture in the catalog but still wasn't prepared for the actual size of this thing. It's a beast compared to the KA models, but it's OUR beast!

This morning I realized that we had set it up with the window open and the window won't close with it sitting there :/ It's one HEAVY sucker. Oh well, guess the window stays open til the outside temps are hitting the mid 90's.

FYI: what you can see in this photo is our entire prep area in the bakeshop. We are currently scheming to change that but still in planning mode.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Next Wedding Cake

So my baby brother is getting married for the 2nd time on May 1st. I was showing a co-worker pictures of wedding cakes I had done and she said "I thought you had 4 siblings married?" I made cakes for the other 3 when they got married but hadn't gotten into this insanity for the first wedding.
This is the cake that the bride picked.
I'm super excited for this one. I love the way fondant looks when you cover the entire cake with it. Not so fond of the pink but once it's finished I actually won't have to look at it again.
The wedding is on the only Saturday of the year that I am ABSOLUTELY, POSITIVELY required to work so I will be making the cake the day before and heading back to the heat for work the day of the wedding. Oooh, that reminds me; gotta talk to my mom about how we are going to pull this one off.

Strange wedding cake

A friend of a friend's wedding cake.
One of the line cooks at work agreed to make a friend's wedding cake. This isn't as odd as it sounds since he likes to do cakes, plus I think it ended up being their wedding present from him.
Anyhow, after doing a test run that turned out less than perfect he asked for help finishing the cake. He had the 2nd cake in the oven when I went over around 11 and we finished the cake at 2 am. This is my first ever attempt at rope borders and I don't think it turned out half bad.

Baby cake

I made this "baby" tiered cake for a 50th Anniversary Dinner.
The guests of honor brought in their cake stand that she wanted us to use. Very pretty cake stand but also only 10 1/2" across. So the tiers ended up being 5", 7" & 9", the entire cake might have weighed 20 pounds.
The party was only 7 people, but the Mrs. wanted a 3 tier cake so the base is styrofoam. She wanted drapery that covered most of the tiers which in retrospect I never should have agreed to. The fondant drapery is some of the heaviest I have ever put on a cake and it is actually held in place with toothpicks since it kept sliding.

But it did serve to remind me that I LOVE making wedding cakes. It is challenging and stressful and so rewarding. I have 2 lined up for this summer and I can't wait.

Friday, March 5, 2010


The new desserts are AWESOME!! The transistion has been smoother than I expected and frustrating all at the same time.

We had some staff changes the end of last month. Moved one baker who wasn't working out to the pantry and brought in a new girl. New girl is a dream come true. Quick, precise and can & will follow instructions. She told me the other day she is working harder than she has in years but is glad to not be in charge anymore. 4 of her first 5 days training the exec chef was out and I had to deal with food orders, call outs and problems. She kept laughing when we got interupted. We are prepping for BQTS right now 4 days out, something that hasn't happened since the summer of '08.

To facilitate the ease of plating desserts to order we took over a small corner of the pantry and turned it into a plating station. Everything we need to do plate-ups are stored in a small sandwich drop now. It's a bit crowded and we only had room for half pans of some of the desserts and stacked 2 others. I LOVE IT!! We have a place where everything you need for plate-ups is together, accessable and it doesn't use ice pans to keep it cold. Plus I can have a project spread from one end of the bakeshop table to the other (all 24 sq feet of it) and I can step out to plate then come back to it. This has also opened up 2 shelves in the regular reach-in so we have more storage space that is close to the work area.

Unfortunately it is not a unanamous love affair. I have to listen to the older baker gripe every single day about how it's not working and she needs more (space, time, shelves.......etc). I am having such a hard time dealing with the complaining. I have asked her repeatedly to give it a month before we assess and make changes but she just can't accept that. I want the old cooler where we stored pre-plated desserts to dissappear and she has convinced the f&b director that we still need it. I have grand plans for that space that can't come to fruition til it's gone. GRRR! Patience isn't my strong suite on the best of days and I'm still not feelin' 100% so i have NONE.