I'm sure everyone who writes a baking blog has thought about becoming a baker every once in a while. At least I have. I imagined it would be an easy job, compared to all the studying I have to do for college. No stress, lots of sugar... Perfect! This summer, I had an opportunity to see that it's not that easy.
I started working on May 24. I had a boss who was 4 years younger than me, and on that first ''orientation'' day it was clear that I would not be spending a lot of my time in the bakery during the summer. There were simply not enough customers in the store to have two people working in there all the time. So I had a choice: I could either go home after I wasn't needed anymore and get a mediocre paycheck, or I could work elsewhere, wherever I was needed. That usually meant watering flowers, weeding, planting... At this point I have to add that I don't like touching dirt. Just so you know. But I did anyway. I also sliced peppers and prepared various vegetables for packing. After all, I came to the US to make money, not to sit at home and do nothing.
There is something special about bakeries though. There are flour containers, probably 30 times bigger than the one you have at home, and the number of pans is enormous. There is always a need for more than one spatula and many sets of measuring cups. That was the main surprise for me; I thought a ''professional'' bakery would be using a scale, since cups are not reliable. But the moment I walked in there and saw the huge buckets of white sugar, brown sugar, confectioners' sugar, flour, 10 different extracts and buckets of nuts, chocolate drops, white chocolate drops, mint chocolate drops and peanut butter drops... I loved it in there. We had a gas oven taller than me and a convection oven that could hold ten times as much as my home oven holds.
The sad thing is, I didn't get to bake much. About 80% of the cookies were frozen, we just put them in the oven and baked them. Pies were all frozen. So were breads. The only things we actually made from scratch were bars with a very sweet artificially flavored filling, a few types of cookies, banana bread and, sometimes, gluten free cookies or bars. Not very exciting, but I still got to see what it's like working in an actual bakery.
As promised, today you're going to find out what to do with that extra layer of cake that you weren't able to use in your 5-layer Neapolitan Cake. Or, maybe you're one of those people who like tiny cakes but don't own tiny pans. I have a solution for all of you.
A while ago, when I bought my first cookbook, I found a whole world of pastry tips and piped flowers in it. At first, I didn't think I would ever need them, since I wasn't that ''advanced'', but that changed soon. I started looking for them in stores and online... They were nowhere to be found in Slovenia. I only found small sets of 4 tips and one bag, and I wasn't happy with that. Finally, I decided I should wait until I move to the US and buy them there.
A little more than a month after my move I ordered a big, 55-piece Ateco set from Amazon. My roommates were looking at me like I was crazy, but I knew I would be sorry if I didn't order the bigger set. In fact, the price difference between the smaller and the bigger set was only a few dollars. You've got to love Amazon!
I couldn't wait to finally try them out. My first attempts can be seen in my last post, where I decorated an entire cake with piping tips, because I didn't have enough frosting to cover the whole thing and then pipe a few details. When decorating this cake, one hour later, I was already somewhat experienced and I knew which tip I wanted to try out. The star!
one cake layer
one small jar of Nutella
If you made the 5-layer cake, you probably have one leftover layer. If not, bake one half of a cake recipe, preferably white/yellow cake.
Cut a small paper or plastic circle (I used the top of my oatmeal container, since it's round and it was just the right size) to use as a stencil. Make sure you can fit three of those circles on your cake. Those will be the tiny cake layers. If you can't, make the circle smaller.
Holding the knife straight, cut the three circles (layers) with the help of your stencil. Spread some jam on the first and second layer. Frost the cake with Nutella (or any other frosting you want to make. I used Nutella because the store was too far away) and, if you want, decorate it with leftover frosting from your hypothetical Neapolitan 5-layer cake. Piping stars (or anything else) on it will be easier if you put the cake into the freezer for a bit, so Nutella can solidify a little. Try to keep the cake somewhere cold. This IS Nutella, after all!
Approximate cost: 3$