The Role of Discomfort in Development


Good evening, friends and neighbors.

I get to work these days before dawn. As I walk in, the first order of business is checking the oven to make sure the settings are right.

Next, the days first load of croissants- waiting patiently in the proof box since the night before. They need to be in the oven in 30 minutes.

They aren’t ready. Small and sticky still. Crap… that’s not right.

A quick look at the control panel on the box confirms my fears. They’re gonna be late.

Right- time for Plan B. The cookies have time to go in.

Wait… that doesn’t look right. Why is the oven temperature tanking? Ugh… ok. Back on track, make up the time later.

The new wholesale management system is messed up. No one to call to check numbers for retail. Dammit… ok, just fudge the numbers. Wholesale is accounted for, I can bake more for the store later if needed.

The piping tip I need is missing. Use a similar one and change technique to compensate.

Not enough sheet pans- the other stores haven’t been sending them back. Rummage around and condense. There’s gotta be stuff to layer.

It’s cool. I’ll figure it out. It’s fine.

Animated GIF of the cartoon

“Totally fine… I’ve got this. I’ve got this…”

At least I’m learning some interesting tricks…”

Continue reading

The Eye For Detail

Good evening, friends and neighbors.

There are reasons I call myself a “baker,” and not a “pastry chef.”

Beyond the respect and station that I think comes with the “chef” title that I personally don’t think I’ve earned just yet, or the argument that “a chef is a cook who leads other cooks” and I haven’t had any cooks under my command for longer than a couple hours, there’s the fact that… well… I don’t think I’m quite crazy enough yet.

Let me explain- when I say “not crazy enough,” I mean that I still stand in rapt awe, wonder, and a little fear, of people who possess the meticulous attention to detail necessary to do certain things. Not just do them once or twice, but REPETITIVELY, and CONSISTENTLY. No cutting corners, no shrugging things off as “rustic” or “it’s meant to be like that”- if whatever these people do isn’t looking pristine, it’s unacceptable.
While I’m not exactly envious of the perfectionism these individuals have (my grandfather’s saying “Don’t let ‘perfect’ be the enemy of ‘good’” comes to mind- and he was a brain surgeon) I am constantly in wonder of the level of PERCEPTION involved in noticing minuscule details.

Like many things in this world, an ideal case study for it comes from a certain mouse.

Continue reading

Here We Go Again

AAAAAND I’m back. 

Good evening, friends and neighbors. It’s been a while!

Between a few moderate life upheavals- a new job, shakeups at the new job, moving to a new apartment, making the new apartment habitable, and so on- and simply lacking the energy to write or revise possible entries, On The Bench has been…well, benched for close to the last month or so.

With things starting to settle down a bit though, and my new baking education service slowly gaining steam, I finally have the time and opportunity to sneak out to a friendly pub and write.

So where am I? What am I?


Continue reading

Bannocks- For When You’ve Got To Hit The Trail Hard

     As she was running out the door for work Monday morning, Emily made a request:

“Hun, think you could make some bannocks that I can grab for breakfast? No raisins or anything- just plain is fine.”

“Yes, dear.”


As my father would say, “Those two words are the secret to a happy marriage.”
     Jokes aside, I didn’t mind. Bannocks are one of my staple recipes for a reason. They are a perfect blend of oatmeal cookie and biscuit that can be grabbed quickly, keep for a long time, and are an ideal breakfast with a quick schmeer of butter or jam.

If you don’t know what “schmeer” is, you need to be roughly 15% more Jewish.

Continue reading