It’s not hard to imagine that we have a sweet spot in our hearts for the Pastry Department. And we’ll admit it, we really can’t pass on an opportunity to snag a freshly baked cookie when walking through the kitchen. But, there’s much more to the department than the final product that we’re lucky enough to enjoy. We wanted to get down to the nitty gritty and find out what it really takes to create hundreds of confections every day. Executive Pastry Chef Anna Kosa let us in on the schedule of an average day in the Pastry Department below.
To start, an overview of the department:
GP Party Team: Create pastries and desserts for Great Performances events, including tastings, weddings, social, and corporate events
Petit Four Team: Like the name says, they create all of our petits fours. This summer the team worked overtime to create a line of sweets that wouldn’t melt in the sweltering July and August heat!
The Plaza Team: Creates desserts for our exclusive partner The Plaza, for its parties and tastings
The Venue Team: Make and package grab & go sweets, like cookies, brownies, and granola bars for our venue cafes
But, in the end, it’s teamwork. We all overlap and assist one another with production throughout the day.
Below is a rundown of this past Thursday’s schedule, which was a typical day in our Pastry Kitchen.
I print and review the CaterXpert orders that detail what food needs to be made for the parties that week. Then, I begin baking the pies, cookies, and muffins that we serve in Mae Mae Cafe every day.
Pastry team arrives and I give them their assignments for the day based on what events we have coming up.
We throw cookies, brownies, coffee cake, and pies for the venues into the oven, which total at approximately 250 sweets a day!
On the other side of the pastry kitchen, the team is creating Blackout Redux Cake for The Plaza weddings, which are events that can serve about 600 guests.
We start with bagels to send to our breakfast events. It’s a yeast dough that we allow to rise, then we mold them and let rise again. Then we boil for 30 seconds in salted water to achieve a golden color. For everything bagels, we sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds, caraway seeds, onion powder and garlic powder. Then we bake for about 10 minutes until crispy and delicious.
Cookies and brownies come out of the oven and we start party prep. Sharon begins to make our lemon ice pops. It’s a lemon curd that we dip in white chocolate and top with swiss meringue that’s then torched. Sharon made 250 ice pops today for a large party.
We begin our fruit compote for the pies depending on what’s in season. Then we roll out the crust, fill with the compote and top with another layer of crust because these are double-crust pies (unlike a pie like Pumpkin where you can see the filling from the top). Today, we made blackberry peach and strawberry rhubarb pies.
When the cookies and brownies are cooled down, we package and label them to send to the venues.
Then we move onto special orders and orders for which you wouldn’t normally think that the Pastry Department would have a role. Today, I was making onyx crisps for our bread baskets. This is a yeast dough that we make with rye flour, caraway seeds, and vegetable ash to give it its ebony color. We then roll it out with a pasta machine so it is very thin and crisp when baked.
We focus on our special orders for the following day. Today, we created Mondrian-style cookies for a gallery opening.
Another custom order that I loved was the gold cubes for an art event recently. This was a challenging and fun task because we had to create something that was both beautiful and delicious. In the end, we made a milk chocolate cremeaux, dipped in dark chocolate, and brushed with gold powder. Although fun, it was tiring because we had to create 240 cubes, all of which had to be hand-painted gold on all six sides!
This varies from day to day but in the summer the pastry team often leave at about 3 pm so we can wake up early and be ready to bake again the next morning at 7 AM!