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Starting From Scratch

Let's face it - who doesn't like baked goods made from scratch?  But if you're like us, making your own baked goods is harder than it looks.  In June, we had two bakers, Molly and Kate, give a class on how to decorate cookies.  (If you missed Kate and Molly's cookie decorating class in June, never fear you can sign up here for their next class on September 15th!)  We had the pleasure of talking with Molly and Kate about their bakery, Scratch Bake Shop (opening soon!), baking in general, and what life as a baker is like.

How long have both of you been baking? As a hobby or as a professional? 

Molly: I have been baking since I can remember growing up helping out in the kitchen with her parents. I  went to Culinary School at the age of 18 while picking up internships and jobs at bakeries and restaurants. What first started as a hobby grew into a profession as I have been managing bakeries for the past 5 years and working in the industry for 8.

Kate: Baking was something I fell into a few years back. I've worked in kitchens and restaurants for 13 years. It was the best way to pay bills and get me through the absurd expenses of art school.

What interested you in baking in the first place?

Molly: Growing up with parents who love to cook and bake I was always in the kitchen. I also have a very big sweet tooth and love of beautiful things. I love to be artistic and creative and work with my hands.

Kate: I love food – always have, always will. Baking just sort of fell into my lap and as it turns out I kind of have a knack for it.

What inspired you to open your own bakeshop?

Molly: I have always dreamed of owning my own business. While working for other people I felt as though I was being held back from utilizing my full creative potential. I also really wanted to be able to make my own rules. I am also always after a challenge, I love to challenge myself and be the best I can be. In my opinion, owning your own business and being successful is one of the best things I can do.

Kate: My father owns his own business and my mother has always created jobs for herself, so I figured that I could do it too. When Molly and I began to work together it was kismet. I knew we had the right balance to form a successful partnership and venture out on our own. Rochester is also a city that is affordable enough to make a dream, any dream, possible.

Did you have to give up other commitments and/or make sacrifices in order to open the shop?

Molly: When you own your own business especially when you start from the bottom and you’re not able to hire staff to assist you, you sacrifice most of your time. The business is always on your mind. You have to give up a lot of time that could be spent with friends and family. The business becomes your number one priority. Not to mention the cost of starting a bakery. Luckily we had help from the community through Kickstarter. We also both (for the time being) have to work other jobs to supplement our income until we are financially capable of making Scratch our only full time job. It’s not easy to juggle both you definitely lose out on even more free time. However we both believe this sacrifice that we have to make for the time being will be worth it in the end!

Kate: We pretty much spend every spare iota of time devoted to making Scratch successful. It is not easy at all but we love what we do, so we find the time to fit it in between family, relationships and full time jobs. We’re young and resilient, we’re no strangers to sleepless nights and 80 hour work weeks.

Why the name Scratch Bakeshop?

Molly: We ended up choosing Scratch Bakeshop when our original name of choice (Flour City Sweets) didn’t work out. We decided to choose a hand full of names and put up a poll on Facebook and Instagram so that people could vote and help us choose a new name. Scratch was the winner and is definitely a good fit since we literally make everything from Scratch, our sweets, our table decorations, our business cards. We even started from “scratch” so the name definitely fits us well. 

What kind of baked goods are you going to offer at your shop?

Molly: We will offer desserts and sweets ranging in all different types and sizes. We will still continue to take orders for custom desserts and cakes. We would like to in the future be able to offer coffee drinks as well as breakfast pastries.

Kate: We also offer a wide variety of allergen free desserts. We want everyone to be able to enjoy something sweet no matter your diet. Vegan and gluten-free desserts are kind of our bag.

From the class you held at the Brainery in June, we know that you love to decorate cookies, but what would you say is your favorite part of being a baker?

Molly: My favorite part of being a baker is being able to be creative, artistic and stay busy. I love to be on my feet all day. I love decorating cakes and anything else that requires a lot of decorating. I also love teaching people and helping people to better understand how to bake. Nothing is more fun than teaching people what you love to do.

Kate: I think my favorite part of being a baker is that it combines my two favorite things – visual art and food. I love being able to make something that is beautiful AND edible. It’s always been funny to me that we spend all this time planning and designing and creating, essentially a work of art, that just gets gobbled up at the end of the day.

What’s the hardest part about being a baker?

Molly: The hardest part is the early hours. We get to work as early as 4am and then work throughout the day and night. You definitely get used to it as time goes on however some days when you want to go out with your friends at night you really can’t knowing you have to be up for work so early.

Kate: Trying to make a traditional recipe allergen free can be very challenging. We really try to accommodate all diets, so when someone asks for a vegan chiffon cake, an egg heavy recipe, we try a million ways to make it work. But as hard as it is sometimes it’s very rewarding when you can make it happen and the customer is satisfied. 

What is some advice you have for aspiring bakers just starting out? Molly: Practice as much as possible, participate in internships even if they are unpaid. Take culinary/pastry classes at a community college while working in the field as well. Have patience and remember to always have fun. Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t work out. The point is to enjoy what you’re doing.

Kate: Practice, practice, practice. And figure out what sets you apart from all the other bakers in the world. Being different will give you an edge in an industry that has been around for centuries.

Tell us a little about the location of the bakeshop. The Bakeshop will be located at 113 Park Ave. The space is small but perfect for what we need. We love the Park Ave area and can’t wait to get set up!

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