Confessions of a Girly-girl: Working in Pastry

A lot of friends have asked about what working in pastry is really like, so I decided to share a few of my impressions here.  If you know me, you’re already aware that I’m a huge fan of all things girly… besides that one dark year in high school when I wore a lot of sweat pants, I gravitate towards all things bow-laden and pink.  Here are some ways that my lifestyle has changed since pursuing pastry professionally.  If you’re thinking about pursuing a career in the pastry arts, be sure to consider these things before making the transition!

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Say goodbye to being fashionable.  I used to associate pastry with all-things feminine and artsy – you know, Anthropologie-style aprons and trendy baby pink Kitchenaid mixers.  Even in my own blog shots you’ll often see me floating around the kitchen in flowing dresses with my hair down.  This is fine when I’m baking in my own kitchen for myself or friends, but no matter how dreamy the picture may be, this would never be allowed in an actual bakery.

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Expect to wear long pants in the heat of summer, plain T-shirts, and baseball hats that cover all of your hair (NOT what I’m doing in this picture!).  Food workers are required to cover their heads at all times, so it’s your choice… use that White Sox hat that used to belong to your dad, or a hair net!  Unfortunately, you won’t be wearing a fancy French chef hat anytime soon.  You’ll be expected to wear non-slip shoes; I purchased the most dreadful shoes of my life in order to go to pastry school.  While they probably saved me a few nose-dives in the kitchen, I still can’t seem to grow accustomed to their unsightliness.

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No nail polish is allowed!  Especially when pedicures are twice the price of a manicure, this fact had me distraught for a while.  But think about it, you’ll be trading in those French tips for French bread!

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Don’t expect to get paid right away if you want to work at a specialty cake studio.  Every cake-specific shop I have looked into offers unpaid internships with no guarantee of employment.  Many of these internships, while offering valuable exposure and insight into cake assembly, won’t have you working on the cake decorating but rather the cake baking process.  You will be able to get creative… just not yet.

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Even if you’re lucky enough to work in a bakery where you don’t have to get up in the wee hours of the morning to start your shift, you’ll still be expected to spend long hours on your feet.  Working at a bakery is physically taxing.  You will discover that you have to have superhuman strength.  You will need to lift heavy equipment and reach heavy ingredients from top shelves, all while being covered in buttery residue.  I’ve made around 300 pounds of cookie dough in one day, and the burn afterwards kind of feels like you just finished running a 5K race.

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With all of this said, I still adore pastry and think that it’s worth pursuing professionally despite the lifestyle changes you will have to make.  I don’t think my sweet tooth will ever suffer from burn-out.  In fact, I’ve needed more sugar energy than ever to complete my baking tasks!  I love that I’m surrounded by sugar and people who love sugar all day.  If you’re a pastry fangirl, go for it!

Feed the Birds?

Haha nope, not a chance.

Yesterday I made a batch of Nutella banana muffins (heavy on the Nutella) and brought one along for a stroll by the pier in my neighborhood.  I still can’t get over the fact that I live in Brooklyn now!  There’s a gang of swans that always frequents the pier area.  I intend to win them over during my time here, but there was no way that I was going to share my Nutella treat, fresh from the oven.  We’ll see if there’s any left over come next week.

Hope you had a lovely Labor Day!  Diving into the week is hard, even when it starts on a Tuesday.  I recommend baking a few of these to see you through… and if the week is extremely rough, feel free to slather on even more Nutella after baking.  Scroll down for the recipe!

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Recipe

Ingredients

2 bananas, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 pinch of salt, 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 jar Nutella

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  2. Cream together the butter and the sugar
  3. Incorporate egg and vanilla extract
  4. Slowly combine flour, salt, and baking soda
  5. Finally, smash the bananas (in a food processor if available) and incorporate
  6. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full.  This recipe made about 8 muffins.
  7. Scoop a spoonful of Nutella into each cup.  Use a chopstick or toothpick to swirl into the banana batter
  8. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Even if your neighbors aren’t a bunch of water birds, I can guarantee that you friends will flock to you for these treats!  Hope you enjoy.