On Sunday it’ll be the fourteenth — 3.14 — which is, for those who (like me) don’t closely follow fabricated celebratory dates, otherwise known as Pi Day, and because pi has to do with circles and sounds like “pie,” we’re all supposed to make pie that day. Or at least eat it. Or, if one isn’t much into food (weirdo), read Life Of Pi instead. (I made that last one up, but it’s a good book so you totally should.)
I don’t generally do anything for Pi Day — at least not intentionally — but since I now work in a bakery and am in charge of pies and we have customers who want to buy lots of pie, Pi Day is kinda A Thing. Except at the bakery we’re making it a Pi Weekend, all the better to sell you more pies, my dear!
Anyway. I’ve been meaning to share a bakery update, which, because my tasks revolve around pies is actually is more of a pie update and since it’s Pi Weekend, I figured now is the right time.
bourbon for the chocolate pies
Truth: I’m only just now getting around to it.
Tourtière, or French-Canadian Pork Pie
This whole year has been a huge learning curve. First, it was the bakery itself — learning how to make the pastries and breads and run the cash register (still learning) and to remember to clock in, etc. Then I shifted to pies and had to learn to bake them in our huge ovens and tweak recipes and source ingredients and please customers. Now, ever since the new year, I’ve been working to craft a pie-making system that works for our customers and our shift schedules and the diner and our teeny-tiny bakery space. This means a lot of trial and error, a bit (okay, okay, sometimes a ton) of chaos, frustration, excitement, and lots of creativity and deliciousness.
Dutch apple mini
I won’t bore you with the details — and stuff is always in flux as we grow and adapt to demand — but here’s how things stand now. Thursday afternoon I come into the bakery with an assistant (which up until now has been my younger daughter) to prep. I sheet out the crusts and parbake everything. We cook the pie fillings and juice lemons and mix crumble toppings and chop fruit, etc.
roasted butternut, caramelized onion, and goat cheese galette
Friday morning I bake up all the pies that have been preordered, as well as a bunch of extras, including test recipes and whatever. Customers pick up their orders in the afternoon, and we sell the extras out the door.
fresh pineapple galette
mini peanut butter creams
Monday mornings, I bake the pies for the diner (and/or prep the components for another baker to bake off some pies mid-week) and do my planning for the next week.
while pies bake: beer and paperwork
A few other pie-related implementations:
For the customers…
*A flyer with our monthly pie schedule. Customers can grab one to stick on their fridge, and when we package pies, we slip one into each pie box.
*A weekly pie-news email for those who’ve signed up.
*Regular social media posts.
*The monthly pie schedule on the diner website.
For the bakery team…
*A weekly pie-related email with what’s available to sell, special instructions, notes, etc.
*A pie folder with ingredient lists and instructions.
*A pie pricing sheet, which is constantly being amended and updated.
It doesn’t sound like much, but each little thing takes planning, execution, and follow-up — (I’m in awe of people who run large-scale operations; there’s so much to think about!) — and everything at the bakery is such a team effort. In the case of the pies, other bakers make the dough, pick up groceries, keep the egg wash stocked, make certain pie fillings, craft the social media posts, pull stuff from the freezers in preparation for my shift, etc. Like I said, it’s team work.
whole lemon tart
As I grow comfortable with the recipes — and as customers learn to know what to expect — I become more relaxed and confident. And I gain freedeom, because with established systems, it’s easier to teach and share responsibilities which, in turn, gives me more time to branch out.
test: macademia tart
test: blueberries and cream
And that, to me, is the most exciting part of baking: the creativity. And creativity plus baking, I think, is pretty much the cat’s meow.
(And yes, I did actually wear this to work. It was a cat-loving coworker’s birthday and we were all supposed to wear something cat-related to celebrate, and because my mom just happened to have a cat suit [because she’s awesome like that], I went all out. My older daughter was delighted, my older son horrified. My husband just shook his head and moaned. Meow.)
This same time, years previous: the quotidian (3.9.20), another adventure!, Shannon’s creamy broccoli soup, the quotidian (3.9.15), in which I (attempt to) turn my children into a mob of merry maids, perfect pretzels, with a side of poison.