A Day in Cake Land (part 1)

After I graduated high school, I decided to take a year off to gain experience in the food industry. I starting working with a woman who was opening a small bakery for the first time in Ann Arbor, MI. The bakery was a cupcake shop that also specialized in wedding and specialty cakes. I agreed to be her assistant pastry chef, full time, and to help her with the opening of Cake Nouveau.

After months of splattering bright green and purple paint on myself, polishing windows, and practicing recipes, the shop was ready for its grand opening. The night before, we made all the preparations for the big day. Everything was ready, except for me. This was my very first job, and my first time working in a professional kitchen.

The next morning at work, my boss and I arrived around 4 in the morning to start production. We figured that making four dozen cupcakes of each of the four flavors would be enough to feed all of the customers that day. We spent the next six hours in production for all of the food to be sold that day. First scaling out large batches of cupcake batter, quickly slapping it into the pans, and then throwing the batches into the oven.

I thought that once we were waiting for the cupcakes to finish baking that there would be some down time to clean and prepare for when we opened the bakery. Boy, was I wrong. Not only did we have MORE batter to make, but we had to prepare the buttercream to top the cupcakes. Before I realized, the entire room was littered with bowls of chocolate and vanilla buttercream, cookie dough pressed into disks, and empty cupcake pans waiting to be filled with pumpkin spice batter.

It was finally five minuets to ten, almost opening time. The finished cupcakes were in the display case and coffee was being made. I finally had a chance to clean up our very small kitchen. When the front door was finally unlocked the people started flooding in. After only an hour, we were almost out of cupcakes and I was sent to make more.

I worked as fast as I could, messily plopping fresh cupcakes batter into the pans. Our small electric oven and two small stand mixers just couldn’t keep up with the amount of people lining up at the door. There was a cacophony of sound flooding in around my ears. People happily yelling out orders, pans and untensils being washed, and the loud mixers running. All the while I was running back and fourth, sweating, trying to keep up.

There was barely enough time to let the cupcakes cool before I had to pipe on the buttercream and pass them on, hot, to the waiting customers. I didn’t realize just how hot they were until I noticed a few cupcakes that had not yet been snatched up by hungry patrons. The buttercream melted into a sticky pool, dropping down the side of the display case leaving a sticky mess.

It wasn’t until 7 o’clock that night, and 400 cupcakes later, did we close after a successful night. After working for 15 hours, I couldn’t even get out of my very dirty chefs coat before I fell asleep… on top of my covers.

All in all, the grand opening of the shop was great. I will never forget how difficult that day was, but also how much fun I had.

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A shot of the small, and messy kitchen.

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The other side of the kitchen. This was before we opened.

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A few cupcakes ready to be served before the grand opening. In order the cupcakes are Vanilla, Chocolate, Pumpkin Spice, and Chai Tea.

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