A Day in the Life of a Real Great British Baker
Great British Bake Off sweeps the nation every year with baking fever and soggy bottoms, but what is it like to be a baker working in the industry? One of Edinburgh’s most popular and busiest bakers (who supply both Lovecrumbs and Twelve Triangles) ran Wow247 through a day in the life of a real Great British baker.
Here head baker Emily Frances shares ten snaps from a typical day in the kitchen – which starts at 5am sharp – and explains what goes on behind the scenes.
“Lovecrumbs started in September 2011 in a very chilly warehouse kitchen, making cakes and treats for the cafés, shops and people of Edinburgh. Rachel did the baking and Hollie did the flogging of wares from the back of a white van.
“The West Port café opened in spring 2012 and Twelve Triangles on Brunswick Street followed in March 2015 as a home for our breads, doughnuts, buns and other yeasted dough goods. We now have six very talented lady bakers in the not so chilly (and now very full) Leith kitchen, baking various treats for the two shops, an array of wholesale customers and the odd wedding or party.”
5.00am: “We open the bakery at 5am, get the ovens on and start getting Twelve Triangles’s stuff out of the retarder (giant fridge) to come to room temperature before baking off. We slow prove all of our sour and yeast based dough for at least eighteen hours which helps improve the flavour as well as digestibility.
“The life cycle of most Twelve Triangles products is three days, starting with the feeding of the sour or making a preferment before the bulk of the dough is made, proved, shaped then baked.”
5.45am: “Once the ovens are at temperature we turn out the sour doughs from the baskets they have proved in over night. We dust the trays with polenta for a wee crunch on the bottom of our loaves then we score them and finally spray them with water before they go in the oven. This helps create steam in the oven which in turn helps the bread get its crust.”
6.15am: “We fry our doughnuts in batches of five. When we first opened Twelve Triangles we thought doing 30 doughnuts per day was a lot. We now routinely fry 130 on a Saturday and Sunday and our record so far is 450 when we did the food market at George Square before the start of the Festival. It seemed like a nice way to ease ourselves into the chaos of August in Edinburgh.”
6.45am: “Doughnuts are packed into boxes, punctured with a cake skewer and then filled with whatever seasonal treats we have made. We make as much as possible ourselves – custards, jams, curds and even the ricotta are made daily. It may sound like we are trying to make our lives trickier but it means we can be pretty certain we have the most loved doughnuts around.”
7.15am: “After we have baked everything off and packed it up for deliveries we have a much needed caffeine break before we start again with the baking and prep for the next day. Our bakery is on an industrial estate in Leith so we tend to get some fairly funny looks from the mechanics around us as we sometimes look like we’ve just rocked up in our PJs and are sitting down with a coffee.”
7.30am: “Everything we produce for Twelve Triangles is baked off fresh every morning. Doughnuts fried, rolled in sugar, individually filled then topped before they are ready to head off. After deliveries have been picked up we reorganise and start our day again, cleaning down and prepping for Lovecrumbs.
“This tends to be the less glamorous side of being a baker – we line all the tins we will need throughout the day, check our bake-lists for both Twelve Triangles and Lovecrumbs and check to see what wholesale is needed and if we have any special orders.”
8.00am: “Once we’ve finished prepping all the tins we start our Lovecrumbs tasks with the cakes so they can bake, be out the oven and cooled for us to ice by the end of the day. Before starting any recipe we get all our ingredients prepped, making sure we have everything we need scaled out so nothing is forgotten and the mixture isn’t left sitting.”
12.15pm: “Here two of our lady bakers are scaling and rolling doughnuts and buns. Apart from our mixers we do everything else by hand – weighing, cutting and shaping all of our doughs. We laminate our croissants by hand in batches of twelve, with each batch taking four days from start to finish which adds flavour as well as builds up our muscles.”
3:30pm: “When I started working at Lovecrumbs two years ago there would be one baker in at a time and two at the weekends. Now we have three or four bakers in every day with a trained team of five altogether. It takes about 6 months to train someone to bake for both Lovecrumbs and Twelve Triangles. We go from working with delicate sponge and making fiddly cactus biscuits to mixing kilos of dough and getting very hands on and physical.”
4.15pm: “Our day finishes with icing the cakes for Lovecrumbs both for special orders and our wholesale customers. We flavour, colour and taste each buttercream before assembling the final cake and most of our cakes have some kind of filling in the middle too.
“My personal favourite is damson jam which I am currently making as fast as I can to stockpile until next year as they are only round for a month or so. You can also make amazing gin by flavouring it with damson and some sugar and letting it steep for a few months.”
Does this sound like something you would love to do on a daily basis? If so, we offer Bakery courses and Apprenticeships here at The Sheffield College and even have our own Bakers kitchen! Go on, make Mary Berry proud!