On my first full day at the bakery, I walked in to find a leaking ceiling and a frantic baker trying to catch steady drips of water coming down from above. A pipe had burst and part of the ceiling was caving in above the shelves where all of the cookbooks are kept. Thanks to those cookbooks the ceiling did not fall in, and the water was soon turned off and stopped leaking. Luckily this situation got under control quickly and the shop was able to stay open as normal, but it taught us all a good lesson – have insurance. The owner later told me that she thought a big event like this on my first day was a good sign. She said that if I could survive this I could survive anything, and that I would have a successful career in the food industry. I’m not sure if she was serious or kidding, but either way I’ll take it!
As the ceiling was being repaired I set to work arranging the chairs in the seating area and stocking the case full of cakes for the day. I took out my Barista Handbook and studied how to make a cappuccino, espresso, etc. for the walk-in customers. You would think I would already know how to do this considering the amount of coffee I’ve had in my life, but I’ve only been on the ordering side before now. As the morning went on we sold out of muffins and breakfast items early on, and I tried to convince customers that it was never too early for a brownie, but most didn’t listen. I then went to the kitchen and made a batch of Very Berry Bread Pudding (sorry, no recipes will be divulged here!) and frosted more cupcakes than I have ever seen before in my life. I also got to make a batch of crumb topping which was particularly fun since I got to mix it all by hand. Mixing such large quantities of ingredients is a good workout for my weak arm muscles, which are only used to typing on the computer.
As the day went on I met several interesting customers. A group of 20-something year olds was on a dessert tour of New York (self-initiated and guided) and had already been to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, Bubby’s and Milk & Cookies before stopping in. They ordered a peanut butter square and left for their next stop on the dessert tour, Magnolia Bakery just down the street. Several other customers came in just to see what a “Cake Studio” looked like, and pointed out which items they wanted to come back for later (the bright flowers on the Passion Fruit Cake seem to be a favorite.)
After my shift was over at 5:30pm, I sat down in the shop with a few friends and enjoyed the Chocolate Mousse and Passion Fruit Cake along with a (self-made) cafe au lait. After 9 hours of standing I was relieved just to sit down, and thought fondly of my Aeron chair I left behind at the office. Seating aside, my first day at the Polka Dot Cake Studio was everything I had hoped for. I got a taste of the sweet side when meeting customers, frosting cupcakes and mixing batters, along with a dose of reality when cleaning windows, stocking supplies and washing dishes. I can’t wait to go back for more.