I’m writing a historical novel whose plot calls for a scene about scaling up recipes. I’d be very grateful if anyone with experience in a scenario of this kind, and/or a good imagination, would comment on the following scenario/take a stab at one or more of the following questions. Please feel free to brainstorm/invent freely . . . and to communicate with me via a private message if you prefer.
(If this isn’t an appropriate use of the forum, I apologize. I didn’t find any guidelines indicating that it isn’t appropriate so I decided to give it a try.)
In Oregon in 1914, a German immigrant businessman decides to change careers and open a retail bakery in a former downtown saloon. (Saloons are closing in anticipation of statewide Prohibition, a few years before nationwide Prohibition.) The kitchen will be in the basement of the former saloon. The bakery will produce German pastries and breads, using his wife’s treasured family recipes.
While the saloon is being renovated and outfitted, the owner hires a Russian immigrant baker with plenty of experience baking Eastern European breads—pumpernickel, rye, etc.—but none as a pastry chef.
The owner needs the baker but is somewhat condescending to him—as Germans were to eastern Europeans in general, and as better-established immigrants were to more recent immigrant—and won’t believe the baker can master German baking until the baker proves it.
The owner sets up a temporary test kitchen to scale up recipes. The baker scales up and tests the recipes in his free time while continuing to work at a bread bakery. At weekly sessions in the test kitchen, the owner and his wife critique the baker’s versions of stollen, kranzkuchen, napfkuchen, Karlsbad pudding, etc.
I want to describe an early tasting session. The scene should be antagonistic/ prickly, a bit confused and inconclusive, amusing without being out-and-out funny.
For instance, maybe the owner and the baker are essentially speaking different languages. Maybe the baker, in an effort to impress on the owner the technical difficulty of the scaling-up task, throws around technical terms (baker’s percentage? what else?) or stresses the difficult mathematics involved. Maybe the owner, preoccupied with capturing some evanescent magic in particular baked goods that have a lot of nostalgic resonance for him, gives uselessly vague feedback (e.g., “I don’t know, it just doesn’t quite capture—maybe more cinnamon?”) Maybe the owner is also impatient and annoyed at the cost of the scaling-up process. Plausible?
Is it necessary to have full-blown practice runs in order to reliably scale up home recipes for commercial production? Would the baker be likely to make a full batch of dough (enough for 20 or 50 cakes, for instance) but only bake a few? Or would he bake up the whole batch of dough? What might be done with the extra product (f it isn't a complete failure)?
What would be a plausible multiple when transforming a home recipe into a commercial recipe? Twenty? Fifty?
What would be a plausible range of items to aim to sell when the bakery first opens for business? Five breads, five desserts, five coffee cakes?
What metric would the baker be aiming to use? Cups? Grams? Pounds?
A different kind of question: If the baker is angling for an ownership stake in the bakery, what would be a plausible arrangement for him to propose when they hammer out a contract? A 5-percent stake if the bakery brings in $X in profit in the first year, or something along those lines?
Anything else I should be thinking about?
Edited by anng - 11/23/12 at 11:55am