I had such high hopes for the second week of July. The very first of the local peaches were making their way from field to market, the ghastly heat had taken a vacation and there was nary a holiday on the calendar, unless you wish to count Bastille Day. We chose to ignore it at the bakery because there were more than enough birthday cakes and festival cookies to occupy us. I was up to my elbows in fuzzy yellow peaches.
I also have a new BFF. She’s a little bit Gluten Free and a little bit not and she only wants to talk to me. I don’t really want to talk to anybody which can be tricky on a Saturday.
Saturday is a big pie day, but a good portion of the morning is dedicated to waving farewell to celebration cakes. All manner of themed events dependent upon pounds of buttercream, gum paste and fondant. Often these high-falutin’ cakes cause quite a bit of additional stress. Take for example, a red velvet cake featuring Dora the Explorer and more specifically, her backpack. It has been painstakingly handcrafted out of fondant (not my field of expertise), the three dimensional backpack perching somewhat precariously atop a slab-rather-than-a-schmear of cream cheese icing. From where I stand slicing wedges of perfectly ripe peaches, I can see Dora is in trouble. The cake in all of its gum paste glory can’t quite fit in the 10x10x6” bakery box. Perhaps cream cheese is seaworthy in the cooler months, but it is probably not the best choice for an al fresco party in July. There is also a mob forming from door to espresso machine; Ladies and Gentlemen and Children of All Ages. Not an angry mob, yet not a happy one.
I’m watching the Dora scenario play out, trying not to interfere. Every so often I make a small observation such as, “Hmm, maybe a bigger box would do the trick?” or “Sometimes an offset spatula is a useful tool for lifting the cake instead of using your fingers,” and a favorite, “It might be helpful to leave the lid of the box slightly ajar rather than try to close it… Oh dear.” Little things that are most often met with total disregard. Fine, I will simply continue zesting and sugaring, lattice weaving and egg washing in my little corner of the bench.
There’s a free concert in the park, a two day event featuring regional musicians, plenty of funnel cake and more falafel than steak on a stake. This caters to a hipper, healthier crowd than a Renaissance fair. We are doing our part in terms of community spirit; our emporium will be well represented selling baked goods and cold brew (not at all the same thing as pedestrian iced coffee), and sugar cookies decorated to mirror the tie dyed t-shirts most of the concert goers will be wearing. I will stay in the bakery, serving as reluctant Ringmaster while tending to my pie shells.
I overhear someone asking if they can order a fresh pie for tomorrow. In their mind, they conjure a woman outfitted in a red and white gingham apron, seated by an open window. The summer breeze nips at her shoulders while she slices juicy peaches the color of sunshine. Seven days a week.
Barista treads back to the kitchen to confer with me about said Sunday pie. There will be pies baking I explain, all day, today, but not tomorrow. It is not the answer she had hoped for. She returns to the front, imparts the news to the customer and promptly returns to me. “How about now? Can they have a peach pie now? I told them they can have one now.”
Noooo- I never said that. Pie shells are lined up, three to a parchment lined sheet tray. Peaches have yet to snuggle up against the brown sugar, and the rick-rack lattice remains to be cut. “No, Veruca Salt, you can’t have it nowww.”
“Ok, I’ll tell them to come back in an hour. Can you talk to this person who wants a Dairy Free Cake that doesn’t have to be Gluten Free but the frosting has to be Dairy Free, just in case. She says she knows you. She only wants to talk to you. And she wants dinosaurs. One in bright blue, one in bright pink. But the blue can’t overpower the pink. And can she get dots around the sides? She doesn't care what color dots. Says that she is not going to micromanage the color of the dots. She will leave that up to us.”
It’s not my circus, but somehow they continue to send in the clowns.
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Professional Pie-isms & Seasonal Sarcasm