My Baking Internship: Dough and D’Oh!

May 17, 2010

As I reported on Friday, I was headed to my internship at a fabulous local bakery called Made With Love. Not only do they have some of the yummiest baked goods I’ve had in a looooong while (I can only be so amused by what I make myself), but owner Celeste insists on using only organic ingredients. Woman after my own heart, that one.

Celeste, owner and operator of the fabulous Made With Love organic bakery in Jersey City, NJ.

From the moment I arrived at the bakery, I was put to work–cautiously, because they had no idea what my level of baking knowledge or klutzery was. First, I cut cookie dough. Already there was a problem because I was supposed to put the cookies cut-side down, and instead I was balancing them on their little sides. It’s okay; everyone gets one mistake on their first day. I flipped the dough and went on to the next thing, which was mashing two balls of dough together to form Made With Love’s signature cookie, the Gargantua. This is not just a chocolate chip cookie; this is a cookie so large it sports bars of dark chocolate, along with walnuts. It is a big piece of heaven, this. Unfortunately, I dropped one on the floor (okay, everyone gets two mistakes on their first day), so that was lunch.

The Gargantua chocolate bar and walnut cookie. Major yumness.

After I did about four or five dozen cookies correctly, including masterfully sprinkling sugar on the lemon crystals, I graduated to peeling apples–about 40 of them. Coring them, I discovered, was an art, and after goring, rather than coring, a few of the fruits, I got the hang of it. I’ve never been happier that The Hubbins and I spend so much time watching Top Chef, The Next Food Network Star, Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution, Lidia’s Kitchen, and all those other cooking shows we’re addicted to; they taught me basic skills and kitchen etiquette. Like, every time I washed my hands, I washed whatever was in the sink too, including the huge, very heavy metal mixing bowl. And, after I asked head baker Rosa a question, I’d say, “Thank you, Chef.” And she’d look at me with a combination of “My goodness, she’s so polite” and “We’re not on a cooking reality show, honey.”

But Rosa was impressed enough with my skillz to let me bake something, so I made a bunch of MWL’s chocolate gateaux. And then it was back to cutting, peeling, washing, coring, storing, moving, lifting, sorting, washing, aching, washing, and working. And I loved every minute of it.

And then I went home and collapsed, exhausted and happy. I learned a ton, and I’m so grateful to everyone at MWL for letting me visit and observe and play with cookie dough. In case you’re wondering, Made With Love does do some mail order, and I can vouch for the deliciousness of their products. They are, indeed, made with love.

(Little legal notes: No, I didn’t receive any compensation for any of the nice things I said here, unless you can count the cookie I ate after I dropped it on the floor. I just really like this place and want to support my local bakery, which, sadly, is a dying species across this great land of ours. If you have a local bakery, buy your bread there instead of getting the mass-produced, who-knows-what’s-in-it stuff at the supermarket.)

Photos courtesy of madewithloveorganics.com.

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