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Inexperienced Baker Needs Help!

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I'm new to this scene, hope to learn from you guys and all. I've neither professional training nor experience in a real working pastry kitchen, and no culinary schooling either. I started baking last year, from a beginner who doesn't even know how to use a microwave oven (I still don't) to selling 60 cakes a month out of my home kitchen, I am seriously addicted.

I've set up my mind to go into this line full time. But I've absolutely no idea how things work in a professional kitchen. So far all my cakes reciepes are created from scratch, well.. I read alot of books and surf the net alot, experimenting and tweaking the various recipes until I've got something that I like. Over the past year I've been eating cakes from all over the country, not boasting but I swear that I've managed to get one of the best chocolate mousse cake (2 layer mousse between three layer "genoise" topped with ganche) out there.

The thing is, currently producing 60 cakes a month is very labourious with the current workflow. I bake the sheets using an Ariston FZ970 electric oven, three pans at a time (for 6-7 inchers) or two pans at a time (for 9-10 inchers). Wait for it to cool a little (it shrinks too so I've to make allowance) then cut off the top (the baking causes a "skin" to form on the surface) and assemble the layers in a cake ring. Cling wrap the thing and pop into the fridge for a couple hours to set before coating with the ganche. Another hour in the fridge before doing the decorations and topping. All this a one man job.

Any advice on how to change the workflow to accomodate a larger output, say maybe 50 cakes a week at least?

Your experienced and professional advice is most appreciated! Thanks to all in advance!! :)

P.S. Is there a way to tweak the recipe for my flourless sponge? It's giving me a big headache. It taste great, close to a genoise (no oil/butter) except it is much more moist. The problem is the shrinking. To make a 10" round cake I need a 10inch ring, but the pan has to be say 1/2" bigger to factor in the shrinking later, and it's impossible to find 10.5" pans anywhere. I've to use an 11" pan, the cake will shrink to 10.5" hence having to cut the extra 1/2" off. It's wasting too much time and not to mention ingredients.
post #2 of 6
You use the flourless sponge for a layer cake?
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. - GM
post #3 of 6
If you are baking full time, I think you would be able to produce 50 cakes a week with your current set up. Minimize distractions and/or buy a second oven. If you make this an at home job, it is still a job. You don't have time for long phone conversations, TV watching, running errands, etc. You need to work on production 8-12 hours a day, just like someone working in a retail or commercial kitchen.
post #4 of 6
I agree with justjoe's advice, especially springing for the second oven, if you can afford it. I work in a pastry kitchen, so I do VERY little baking at home...LOL. AND, if I need to bake something for outside of work consumption, my chef is cool enough to allow me to squeeze it into my daily production at work, time/workload permitting. I love my job, but I hate baking at home, as a home kitchen isn't as conducive to quick cleanup or more production like a commercial kitchen (especially using a good commercial dish machine - man, if I had the space and the $$$, I'd have one of those bad boys at home...heh :) )
Bakers - we make a lot of dough, but not so much money
Bakers - we make a lot of dough, but not so much money
post #5 of 6
Thread Starter 
Harpua: I'm really clueless, am I not supposed to?

justjoe: Oh, of course! I understand that. But besides baking, I need to buy ingredients, co-ordinate orders, communicate with customers, as well as do deliveries myself too, so i'm looking to a more efficient workflow. I heard that professional pastry kitchen usuallly produce cakes in big sheets and cut then using a guitar, is that right? But I can't do it as I'm mainly making round cakes.

ShoeMaker: I'm considering another oven. Is there a good brand to recommend? At first I was thinking of getting a deck, but heard those things have uneven heat distribution plus it cost like 15k for one. I might as well get another convection oven (similar to the current Ariston FZ970) for 1k+ and save the rest on renovation (gonna make some steel storage racks, table top, etc) What kind of equipments do I need?

Can i freeze chocolate mousse cakes? Will they turn runny when I thaw it out? Currently I don't freeze my cakes I read somewhere that you can increase production efficiency by freezing the 75% completed cakes and doing the topping later.
post #6 of 6
Dino, I run a small operation with a commercial convection oven, a 3 bay sink and a household stove and a smaller table top convection oven.

I don't produce as many cakes as you do but each cake is a "sculptured" cake.

but here is my old production schedule when I had my shop in Pennsylvania:

I take one day to bake all the cakes and then some.

Usually on Monday or Tuesday, I take them all and place them on the cooling rack. When I did my wedding cakes it was about 18 rounds in several sizes.

Then I would do my special orders, (birthdays and such) any extra batter was baked off as cupcakes, a tray of brownies and about 2 large sheets for my coffee cake.

before I left for the day, I would wrap everything and place in a chest freezer. I would seran wrap each cake individually, then place in zip lock baggies and then in heavy duty large trash bags.

All the while I was baking these cakes I'd throw a few pies or cookies into the table top convection oven, it had 2 racks inside it.

Tuesday or Wednesday I'd make all my icing and fillings.

Wednesday or Thursday I'd base coat the wedding cakes and place the supports inside the layers.

All the cakes that were due on Friday would get decorated.

So while my customers where picking up their decorated cakes, I'd be working on the wedding cakes that where due for delivery on Saturday...Friday and Saturday , finishing touches on Sundays wedding cakes...

I was lucky I had someone to deliver my wedding cakes so I was able to stay in the shop so customers could pick up their smaller party cakes.

Any down time I had, was spent making royal icing, air drying buttercream or gumpaste flowers.

I basically worked 8 to 4 then would come back in at around 6 pm and stay till 10 pm. or midnight depending on my work load.

Oh, yeah, I forgot...I never answered the phone. I let the machine pick it up and when I took a "break" I would be returning those phone calls.

If you're as busy as you state, a second oven and more storage space and maybe a 20 quart mixer would be in order, also a 3 bay sink is a life saver.

Fill one of the bays with hot soapy water and soak the dirties, so when you wash them stuff is easy to get off ..lol nothing is as stubborn to remove as dried on cake batter!
Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
Food may bring us together, but a CAKE makes it a PARTY!!
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