After my third straight Caoba Farms Saturday Market, I spent a good portion of Sunday relaxing. I read, I cleaned up, and I did a little bit of prep for the week. Then, I went out exploring.
I love carrot cake (one of the only cakes I will claim to enjoy) and had heard that Ganache, a small dessert café chain from the city, had a good one. I’ve passed by their Antigua shop many times, but never made any purchases. The pastry above was pretty good. I didn’t like the gel layer on top and found that I could peel it off. After that, I enjoyed it. I would have liked a ratio of cake to cream closer to 50%, but it worked overall. It wasn’t a standard cream cheese frosting, although it did have a little tang to it.
On Monday, it was back to work and getting ready for selling out of the bakery on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. As I prepared the bread dough, Pedro and his crew showed up with two of the three pieces of bakery furniture that he had built.
He carefully crafted the piece above so that the countertop matches the weird angle in the corner of the room. It’s closer to an 80- or 85-degree angle than 90, so he built it so that it would fit snugly. He also was going to add wheels so that it could easily be slid out for cleaning purposes.
He told me he’d return on Friday with the final piece – the main display case. As well, he’d add the glass to the small display case shown above, attach the flip-top counter to the display case, and put the pulls on the cabinet doors. I was very pleased with how his stuff looked and couldn’t wait for the big display to arrive. It was starting to feel like a real bakery!
Meanwhile, I was getting cinnamon rolls ready for Tuesday’s pastry feature. I thought it would be fun to document the evolution of a batch:
I was very happy with this particular cinnamon roll recipe, and because of the way I rolled and cut them, they’re not overly large. I can charge a lower price for them (Q7 – so just under $1.00), they’re not gut bombs, and I can give them a nice, even bake.
Also on Tuesday morning, I had a special order for biscuits. While I have a standard, go-to recipe that I love, because of the cost of butter, it’s quite expensive here. Not only did I have this order for biscuits, but Joelle at Mama Jojo’s also wants to include my biscuits on her menu. So I attempted a side-by-side comparison of a different biscuit recipe. This other one not only had a different technique that I wanted to test out, but it would also be less costly.
The one on the left is the new biscuit, and the right is the old (gold) standard. The new one just didn’t taste good enough, and it wasn’t as flaky. I’ll stick with the tried-and-true and see if I can marginally bring the cost down without quality suffering at all.
Later Tuesday, Scott came over to hang my light fixtures. I had posted on Facebook that I was looking for an electrician or handyman to do this. Scott sent me a message and said he could handle it, and I appreciated his stepping up (literally). The only quote I got – which I was told was maybe the best price I would get – was Q850. That’s about $125, which seemed quite steep for here. Scott took his time, figured out the different fixtures and setups and had things all squared away in under two hours. He accepted payment in the form of babka, banana bread and cookies.
The best part, of course, was the new fixture in the bakery workspace. It is now so nicely lit, I can always see what I’m doing. What a difference the little things make!
Had a good round of sales on Wednesday morning, with a complete sell-out of the scones! People seemed very excited to see them again, and I was happy that there were repeat customers. It also kept me from nibbling on extras, which I have a tendency to do. That was especially good because that afternoon, I was meeting with Felipe and his business partner, Jose, at the Glacy ice cream kitchen. We were getting together to look at cookie flavors and sizes, and pair them with ice cream.
We were using big cookies, and while at first I thought, Maybe we should cut these into smaller pieces, I went with the flow. Which meant that by the time we were done, I was quite full (and craving something savory!). But in the end, everyone was happy with the prospect of a collaborative effort. We all had different favorites, but would be happy with any of them.
The plan for now was that Felipe would figure out the final combinations to start off, and we’d hold a kickoff weekend at his shop in a few weeks. We’d each heavily promote it, and would feature three sandwich combos of a limited quantity of each. We’d see how people responded to both the options as well as the pricing (which we still needed to finalize), and then decide if and how to move forward from there.
Friday morning, I was expecting the final delivery of the bakery furniture, as well as the installation of the glass in the small display case. First, Pedro was scheduled to come at 9:00. The night before, he modified that to 11. Friday morning, 11 became 1:00 pm. He finally arrived around 1:30 and got to work. With the unexpected downtime in the morning, and most of my Caoba prep done for the next day, I went into town to Mama Jojo’s. I had given her a small order of biscuits to try out for a breakfast dish and wanted to see how it was going. While I was there, she insisted I try it. I didn’t want to take away an order from a paying customer, but she insisted. And it was good! I think the gravy needs a little bit more flavor, but the combination of my biscuits and Randy’s breakfast sausage was a match. She ended up selling out of all the orders, and is looking to make this a once-a-week special.
Back at the bakery, I was making sure that my vegan chocolate chip cookie was up to the test. I’d made it the last few weeks of Smorgasburg in LA and figured all would turn out just fine here. And it did! In both taste and texture, it’s nearly indistinguishable from the regular version. I’d had a few people ask for vegan cookies, and I was excited to be able to provide it for them.
Over the hours that Pedro and his crew was there, they got the furniture situated and eventually got the glass panels installed. Weirdly, though, despite the fact that he had all the furniture at his workshop, he didn’t measure the openings for the glass panels until the stuff was here. Then he left, got the glass cut and returned.
Because of how late in the day things began, Pedro and his crew left before finishing. Still unfinished was the installation of the pulls on the back counter’s cabinets, and the hanging of the mirrors. Other than that, it was all good to go. Amazing to have all these items in place and have it look like a real bakery. Coming very soon!
Saturday morning, I had prepared a more moderate spread for Caoba. Plenty of the things that do sell well – sourdough bread and babka, and fewer of those that don’t always (cookies, blondies, banana bread). The day started slowly, but picked up nicely. I sold out of everything that wasn’t a cookie – bread, banana bread, babka and scones. I could have sold more of the babka and bread for sure, as multiple people came up asking for it after it was sold out. I’ll think about ramping up for next week.
As the day wound down, the rain came in, and that basically halted all the sales. It ended up being my second-best day of the four, so I was pleased. And while I had some extra stuff, there was a perfect use for a lot of it: my outing the next day to Finca El Zapote. What is that, you ask? Stay tuned to find out…