Saturday, 21 February 2015

Cavan Bakery - Work Experience

A couple of posts ago I mentioned son Owen had created a photographic portfolio for me as I wanted to apply to local companies to gain some work experience in commercial kitchens.

And this week I did just that and spent an interesting couple of days working with the team at the Caven Bakery (link to website). This family owned business, established in 1929, has 7 shops in West London around the Teddington and Hampton Hill area and a newly opened shop in Sheen, all supplied with fresh bread, cakes and pastries from their central bakery in West Molesey, Surrey. The Managing Director, Jeff Greenall, kindly gave me the opportunity to see the bakery 'at work' and get involved with producing some of the goods. During the day a small friendly team of confectioners and pastry chefs make a wide range of mouth-watering cakes, buns and pastries and I had the pleasure of working alongside them for 2 days. It’s a very busy place but seemed relatively calm and quiet during the day. In the evening and through the night another crew take over and produce a huge range of loaves and rolls, fresh for the shops in the morning. 

Gingerbread men that fly/walk out of the shops! (photo from Caven Bakery website)

I felt a little out of my comfort zone and it was quite nerve wracking at times. Why, under scrutiny,  could I suddenly not pipe simple chocolate ‘eyes’ using a paper icing bag or remember my trusty lemon drizzle cake recipe when unexpectedly challenged to cook my ‘signature bake’?. It was a really valuable experience though, I learnt new skills, got to use commercial equipment I’ve never come across before and talked to the staff about different aspects of their jobs. Amanda was very knowledgeable about the business and was very patient with me, taking time to explain the products, processes and equipment they used. Claire seemed to have boundless energy and made vast quantities of puff pastry, feeding it backwards and forwards through the dough-break machine incorporating countless layers into the pastry before transforming it into tasty cakes, slices and sausage rolls. Under Karen’s guidance we turned out a little army (is there a collective term for them I wonder?) of about 340 gingerbread men which were packed and dispatched off to the various shops – ready to be dismembered by hungry children. Over the course of the year the gingerbread biscuits are produced in different shapes, the Rudolph cutter has been put away now until next Christmas and the Easter bunny cutter has just come out of the box. I don’t tend to make much gingerbread at home although I did make a few gingerbread houses with the lads when they were very young (see photo below).

Mmmm....what's not to like about a Curly Wurly fence?!

So it's back to my public sector 'day job' on Monday – I’m coming to the conclusion that a part time admin job (for the steady salary and boring pension....zzzzzz) and part time baking role (for the job satisfaction and variety) is what I need to keep me sane!! So that needs to be my next plan……

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