Well, friends, it's been a short but thrilling run.
As you may have gathered, I've decided it's time to throw in the (dish)towel and shelve the idea of this kind of bakery/business until such time as I have the financial, emotional, and mental bandwidth to give it the life it deserves. Alas, it was well worth the try. "Owning a bakery" is the kind of ephemeral pipe dream that plagues many of us, one I've entertained off and on since high school or earlier. And in a post-grad school haze of indecision-induced paralysis, I went for it. And now I can say I've done it. I can add "entrepreneur" and "baker" to the long list of skills and experiences I've acquired over a relatively short life, and hopefully others will see the value that I see in having undertaken this project.
As the year, and the business, close out, here are a few things I am particularly thankful for:
You, dear customers and fans, who have made this last year as rewarding as it was. Your support for this project (and your reviews of my baking) was indispensable and I never really got to thank anyone in particular for their patronage. So, thank you.
The cookbooks I bought for which owning a business was a grand excuse. There are some real treasures in them, and having the business was the only reason I probably even considered "Classic German Baking" or "fika" to be worthwhile investments. I now consider them two of my favorites.
The people I met and was lucky enough to work with, learn from, and grow alongside: at Fork, the Yarmouth Farmer's Market, various events, customers who came out of the woodwork to express their interest in the project, and occasionally, randomly at bars.
The "skills" I learned in owning a business. Despite my negligence in never actually writing a business plan or building out a P&L or BOM or OFA (other fancy acronym), I definitely have a better sense of how to start and run a business — and how to do so more successfully! (Step one: write a business plan.)
As I move on to the next step (whatever that is), I have no intention of stopping baking (so everyone, you know who you are, can stop worrying), or abandoning the idea of Bubbe & Bestemor altogether. I predict it will morph, slowly and steadily, into something else new, innovative, interesting, or maybe terrible. I have no idea. You're welcome to come along for the ride.
"Geflachtene Challah": Braided (?) Challah
One of the things I've been wanting to do for a long time is find some old Yiddish recipes and translate them into English and, if possible, work off of them. Luckily for all of us, YIVO has a digitized collection of cookbooks that anyone can browse and download from. (Unluckily for me, I don't know Yiddish, or even German...) The recipe below is screen-shotted from "Das Familien Koch-Boch", whose cover title in English is, incongruously, "Jewish Cookbook". The book is written by H. Braun and published in 1928 in New York.
What's in a Name? On Rugelach.
Rugelach by any other name would, after all, taste as sweet.
Or would they?
An Origin Story.
I'm often asked, "how long have you been baking?" This question doesn't have a straight answer, like March 7, 1998, which would be a straight answer. So here's the best answer I have:
When I was maybe 5, or 7, I convinced my mother to let me make up my own cookie recipe. In my recollection, it consisted primarily of cocoa powder and baking soda and was summarily terrible. I'm sure I also made a terrible mess of the kitchen, something I know I still do. Sorry, Mom.