3.2.2020 – A day in the life of a pastry chef

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It’s 9.13pm and I’m lying in bed writing this in the pitch black, because guess what? I’m tired again! I promise to think of more thought provoking content soon, then telling you how tried I am all the time, but your girl has got to stay real.

In a previous post, I explained to you what it meant to do an ‘opening shift’ as a pastry chef at Ottolenghi, which is what I’m waking up at 4.30 for tomorrow. Today however, I started at 7, which is neither an opening shift or a closing shift, but basically everything else in between. I feel like sometimes an opening shift is less hard felt than a 7 shift; because I live too far away to be able to travel to work on public transport for 5.30, I ‘have’ to get an uber every time I open, so at least it takes the stress out of commuting and allows me a few more minutes in bed. However unfortunately after that, the trains start running and I can’t use uber as an excuse to be lazy, which means getting up at 5.30 to be out the house for 5.45, a walk, train and bus later and I’m hopefully at work for 6.45.

7: As soon as you arrive, you start preparing the morning pots for our early morning takeaway breakfast customers. This involved piping out yoghurt into pots, and topping our butcher meusli pots with various additions. You then move onto the fruit salad, which is also mainly for takeaway customers, all of which need to be up in the shop by 8, for when it opens. Should we have any breakfast catering orders, this is also usually your responsibility as soon as you come in.

8: Once the doors are open, we are pushing to get all the cakes decorated and up on the display. The 7 shift works on the smaller mixer, and subsequently deals with the decoration for all the cakes that have cream icing; my favourite kind of icing to decorate with, and to taste. Today for example, I made the icing for and decorated: 2 carrot cakes, 2 chocolate fondant cakes, 14 spiced date cakes and white chocolate roulade (pictured).

9.30: When there are three pastry chefs working, we aim to have the display complete by 9.30 to be able to crack on with the prep list for the day. You can refer to my previous post on opening, for a better description of what this is! There tends to be a greater amount of smaller mixer jobs as opposed to the big mixer, which is what you use when you open, because the quantities in the smaller mixer are less and therefore take less time to make, pipe out, and bake. On an average day, you could end up with 4/5 batches of around 24 cakes in one day, plus a few adhoc jobs. Today was a little different for us, as we have a huge catering order going out tomorrow, and so I was responsible for making, piping and baking 200 mini chocolate tahini tarts. I really enjoy the finer touches when it comes to baking and so I very much enjoyed this task.

12: Today wasn’t so much of a busy day, it seems Belgravia are still in January mode and are reluctant to leave their humble abodes. However this does mean that we got a lunch break today which was a nice treat.

12.15: After lunch, I made orange chiffon cakes, a beautifully light sponge, using egg whites as the main raising agent. These cakes are so elegant once decorated, and are one of our best sellers in the shop!

1: Once I had finished those, because the day was particularly quiet, I began to do household tasks such as beaten up our recipes and deep clean a few areas, before I leisurely headed home at 3!

So why are you so tired? It never seems to be a pattern I can grasp so I go with the flow, and when an early night calls, I jump on the occasion willingly.

Hope you enjoyed learning about the 7’o clock shift role! Only one more shift to explain to you now before you know all about a day in the life of a pastry chef at Ottolenghi.

Goodnight!

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