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  1. bakery business, palates & olfactory senses,(helloooo-this should be priority #1 to all chefs) food cravings, and being a woman pastry chef, and juggling personal/family life with pastry & baking career, hmm the list is endless of things to discuss on this here forum! maybe if I spray-paint the baby with colored pink & blue chocolate & mycryo, and nestle it into a foamed emulsion bed of lychees and star anise... ha ha, she hasn't lost her sense of humor (or mind) YET
  2. Hi y'all! It's been a while, so I thought I'd catch you up on the latest for those who followed my blog, Mel's New Bakery. I am pregnant! It is a complete miracle (and surprise) since I have been told for 10 years that I can't have kids. I worked the holiday hell season, the 14-18 hour a day bit, for weeks without knowing I was pregnant! In this case there's no martyrdom, I didn't know! After Christmas, I was SO TIRED, and kept falling asleep everytime I sat down. I kept thinking, damn, did Christmas really wipe me out this bad??? turns out it wasn't just X-mas....hee hee! I am due in August. right in the busy pie season...family and friends are VERY excited, since everyone knew it probably wasn't in the cards... Crazy changes happening everyday, physically, mentally, etc. Other than being super tired I feel great and have little to complain about. My sense of smell is now as powerful as my Labrador Retreivers! It has become so sensitive, especially to bad smells (such as others' BO, bad breath, or rotting funky food. oh and stinky cheeses, unfortunately) I can smell things from 2 rooms over! I am starving, and then after I take 2 bites.....uuugghhhh. don't want it. Craving eggs, and other smooshy soft foods. However, overnight , my attitude about what I am eating has shifted dramatically. It's such a trip, to go from hedonistic tendencies, of, well I just want to shove yummy food down my gullet all the time, and damn the consequences, to wait- it must have NUTRITIONAL VALUE! whoa! I have to THINK about what I am consuming. (and now even more so concerning organic) it is quite a different attitude to think, the food I am eating is fueling the life growing inside of me. mmmm, but homemade mac-n-cheese, the baby will surely like that! dairy, right? ah, the justification begins! if only I could justify my beloved coffee...sigh... I now want to wrap myself into a little cocoon, and sleep...I am limiting my hours and trying to get as much rest/sleep as is possible, and just take very good care of myself. I admit it is very hard to focus on exciting new products and desserts at the moment. I am not stressing too much about my bakery, and well, what am I going to do? Whatever I need to. It is running smoothly enough- with a great, responsible staff who has already made things much easier for me. So that is the latest news folks! My best to all, Mel
  3. melmck

    Quiche Pastry

    Pate brisee, plain and simple. I sell a ton of quiche!
  4. I think the quince might set up too jelly-like as well. Definitely peel the skins, quince don't need any additional help in the pectin department. They are tough to prep, I peel the outsides, quarter them and then carve a triangle to get the middle out. Then I poach them. You could poach and use mostly poaching liquid and some quince to get a curd.
  5. $20 an hour, bwaaah haa haaa! BTW, love the name dear, I wonder how many here know it's meaning;) If you are just starting out it would be years before making that. I have 3 career changers on my hands right now. I used to be VERY sceptical about them, especially those over 45. Then 2 proved themselves to me, and have the dedication to keep learning, despite making 1/3 of what their salaries were before. One is a lawyer/former President of a company...I think they are nuts. But to each their own! Also, and this is just my opinion, I am not impressed with what my local baking & pastry school is producing student/knowledge- wise. I almost feel like I should just start charging $35,000 per student to come and learn real, valuable skills! Who cares about pastillage and sugarcraft for beginners? Learn it later IF, and only if, you are drawn to it with a passion. As far as baking and pastry go, I am self-taught, learn-on-the-fly at each job trained. Read, research, experiment, test. If I were to do it all over again, I would just do stages all over the country, learning specific skills from each place, from whichever chef I wanted to learn from. This is real, practical experience.
  6. whaaaaaa? those prices are crazy. and the site itself has really overpriced stuff. For cake pans, basic round (all sizes) or square, bakingtools.com is the place to go!
  7. If you are adding additional flour as you roll out between turns, this will definitely create the spongy texture. Try to use AS MINIMAL flour as possible, just barely enough to keep from sticking to the surface and tearing the dough. I work with the dough and butter very cold, straight from the fridge but pounded out until it is pliable enough to bend. I do the roll-in, and first turn on day 1. On day 2, I do 1 more turn and roll it out, shape it, freeze it. I also use half AP flour and half cake flour, sifted.
  8. I use cheap wood baskets from Cash & Carry or Cost Plus World Market. 75 cents a piece. I flour them well, get a nice crusty flour build up then use rice flour to prevent daily sticking. I bang 'em a gainst something to get out excess,and if they fall apart, say every 6 months, I buy more. Very cost effective, and still leaves nice impressions on the dough.
  9. Hi Everybody! It has been quite a year, and now comes the time to say farewell to this here blog. You have seen through my eyes the first year of business- it's still hard to believe, it went so fast! It is also hard to believe how many views this blog has had. Over 40,000! (Not too shabby!) Throughout the ups and downs of my new life as a business owner I've spilled my guts to the world. I hope that I have shown what it takes to pull off 'Starting A New Bakery' . What makes me feel the best is when people say "You must be doing something right' or "EVERYTHING is fabulous. Everything!" It is very easy to be self-critical, damn pastry chef habits-it's never good enough. A customer looks at the display case ands says 'wow, it's all so beautiful' I look and see that the sides aren't perfectly smooth on the cake, the berries are starting to droop, and someone has smooshed the whipped cream on the pie. sheesh! The work never ends. I have learned so much from this last year. About business, about people, products, myself, blogs. I work like a madwoman because I do love it. Like chefpeon says in a recent post, we'll never get paid what we're worth. But if we worked some boring office job and couldn't play with our food we would be miserable. We are a sick and twisted bunch and that's how I like it. Thanks to all -for your support during this bakery bootcamp. It's been great to meet some of you, bake for some of you and establish online relationships. Thanks to Steve KLC for approaching me with the idea in the first place! and to everyone at eGullet for this fun opportunity. Contact me personally at mel@criollobakery.com or send PM's through eG. I'll be around, you know where to find me... Best regards, Melissa McKinney
  10. We had a nice BBQ for family, employees and friends who helped us get here. Nice weather, crazy kids running around. Instead of a cake to celebrate I made berry & cherry shortcakes. I am so happy about yummy fruit, I have rhubarb, berries and Bing/Van cherries in everything! My family had the Food & Wine article mounted/framed beautifully for me to hang in the bakery, along with a card that everyone scattered across the country signed for me. very,very nice. Goals for year 2: pay myself go to Hawaii (see the in-laws) lay on beach and eat shave ice make better stuff all the time expand savory menu items there are other secret goals which will reveal themselves when the time is right....
  11. Tomorrow we are having a party to celebrate our ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY !!!!!!!!!!!
  12. Thanks Brian, I know, and I have been thinking about you out there doing the same #$%*. Yes I go to Cash & Carry once a week. I also order stuff online so it will be delivered right to my door. It is sad when you work 16 hours a day and the dishwashers make more money than you. Which so far is nothing. There are times when you think, when is this going to pay off? Is it ever? Or am I just on a slow march (yet restaurant-paced) towards death? Plus my husband does all this work too and he doesn't get paid either, which can be very wearing on him. Stress city! It doesn't seem like it, but having a positive attitude is all we can do to make it through each day. Put each hassle behind me as quickly as possible and move on to the next. Chefs would make very good doctors-can take high pressure, work at 100 mph, stay cool in the hot seat. STRAWBERRIES & RHUBARB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everything that isn't nailed down has strawberries and/or rhubarb on it/in it. YUM!!!!!!!!!!
  13. THANK YOU!! Your letter meant a lot to me. It is totally true, what I write and how it is, and occaisional validation is refreshing. It is absolutely impossible to completely understand the 'business owner vs. employee who works for business owner' thing. Like men understanding what it's like to have a baby! Sure, you can say you understand, comprehend .I suppose it's like anything, after I had major surgery people would say oh yeah I feel your pain, but then you talk to those who have had the same surgery and they instantly hug you or want to cry. Iam not looking for an argument here, but this is what I have learned now that I AM THE BUSINESS OWNER. And I can look back at all the places I've worked and see things so much more clearly, from the other side. One chef would only let me buy 3 red bell peppers a day, and I kept saying what the hell?? Buy a whole case and save money! Little did I realize that when money is so tight you can't lay out enough for a case. But you have to keep up the good image or your employees will all freak out if they knew how close they were everyday to losing their jobs. Credit cards tapped out? All 5? Personal ones too? Don't even get me started on people who bash my beloved credit cards "Oh I would NEVER do that" it's called working capital, people, and means you can pay the bills. and once you can't pay them you'll be scrambling to get as many as possible. worried it will ruin your credit? what's worse, bad credit or bankruptcy? going under? rock vs. hard place And it is very easy to toss out advice online or in person or whatever, you should do this you should do that examples "You should make bagel dogs!" "You should make plain food" "You should sell Hot Pockets" Sometimes I feel the need to defend myself, not for justification, but for clarification. I hate being misunderstood, it makes me feel like I am not expressing myself clearly. I have to do it with customers too, "Why did the sticky buns go up 25 cents" because the prices nearly doubled and a case of broken pieces is $215 !!! it's like holding gold in your hand.why is that cookie $1.50, because almond paste just went up $17 a tub. Thus I like to explain. Another funny thing that happens is people trying to barter down the prices, I swear it happens. "I'll give you $20 for that cake" sorry it's $38,,,let me have 4 for a dollar each! no I'm sorry they are $2.85 a piece! Next time I go out for a fine meal I'll offer $20 for my $40 entree and see what happens....ha. I am indeed proud of what I've accomplished. When I am with customers and they say 'what's good' or 'what's the BEST thing here?' I say it's all good, and I can vouch for it because I wouldnt sell it otherwise! Instead of being coy or reserved about the products, I come right out and say it's fricken awesome!! or words to that effect depending on who I am talking to...
  14. melmck


    Qualita Paper Goods 714-540-0994 ask for Homar, request a catalog glassine papers instead of doilies, gold or silver boards I HATE DOILIES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And folded napkin cradles too....... I refuse to ever, ever use them at the bakery. I also have gone to paper or art supply shops and bought cool paper just to line plates.
  15. I'm with chefpeon, make plenty of batter, save extra for minis, cupcakes whatever, or just put it in a container and thaw later. keep an eye on your oven to figure out baking times! check at 15 minutes and every 5-7 minutes after that.
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