The beauty of having such varied clients is finding out what they do and how they do it. In my opinion any PR or Comms person worth half a nik nak should properly experience the organisation/company they work for to truly understand how to promote and engage others in their work.
So that’s what I decided to do, get my hands dirty with Brød – The Danish Bakery who I provide digital content management and PR for. More than once I’ve scoffed down their delicious pastries, slathered butter on a rye loaf and not thought twice about the process of it, more the awesome party going on inside my mouth.
I became an apprentice baker for the morning. Think Rhod Gilbert’s Work Experience – except I’m not famous, tall, paid as much or televised.
My alarm goes off and I feel weirdly excited, very tired (I got to sleep at 12pm, IDIOT) but excited.
Betina, Brød founder and lovely Danish person, picks me up. We both laugh. She hasn’t slept well she tells me, probably I think, because she’s dreading having to look after me.
We arrive at the bakery and absolute legend Becky, with over a years experience under her belt, is already setting up, she looks calm, poised and purposeful. I check in the mirror and I look like Mrs Twit. Nevertheless, I get my baker’s outfit on, including fabulous floured slip on shoes and we get to work.
4.40am – god knows when
Bread, bread, bread and a brownie.
Betina sets me to work on bread, there are ingredient cards for each bread and I have to weigh each ingredient ready for the industrial mixers to get going. I don’t tell Betina that I am crap at maths and hate baking because it’s so precise and I end up going off piste and it’s disastrous.
I carry on regardless and I’m not too bad. The starter for the sourdough smells like an armpit that’s been doing 24 hours of extreme sports in the desert, not cool.
For the brownie the margarine needs to be scraped out using a spatula thing but the bag is almost empty, so I put my hand in to get more out – I feel like I’m tending to a cows backside and cannot believe the moisturising effect this has on my hands. WIN.
My apron is covered in a concoction of things, I think it makes me look like I’ve tried which is nice. I notice Becky and Betina are both pretty clean…
When the bread dough is ready I have to chisel bits off to be weighed for each loaf, this gets easier with each go and hitting the correct kg becomes a game I have to win. I line trays with loaves, rolls and pastries put them in the proover as they get ready for their oven sunbed.
Becky is on the sandwich loaves and encourages me to try kneading and shaping – I am absolutely terrible at both. Some of the sandwich loaves that day look like deformed fingers, apologies. The same goes for the buns, they need a little hole on the bottom which I can barely achieve and Becky has to re-do about 40% of mine…. She has patience of a saint.
Betina asks me if I want a cup of tea. I could kiss her, but that would crossing a boundary and it’s likely she may fall in love with me as I’m so magnetic.
Pastries, pastries, pastries.
Turns out you need muscles to be a baker and I am not graced in the upper body muscle department. My attempt to lift the 5kg of brown sugar off the floor is pitiful and Betina has to save the day.
Becky sets me to work piping the icing the snegl and spandeur. When she does it looks effortless and her wrist does a cool flick thing. When I do it I can barely hold the bag up (sparrow arms) and have as much wrist grace as a potato. There were pastries with very random icing on that day, again, apologies.
Disaster strikes when the chocolate icing from the piping bag begins to ooze from the top down my hand, I am rendered even more useless because I can’t stop laughing which is I’m sure what all good apprentices do.
I lick a huge chunk off and feel really sick yet rewarded.
The kitchen at this point is baking hot (get it?) and the smells from The ovens are incredible. I get to eat a crispy end off the pastry and I feel like I’m in a Danish utopia.
When everything is cool enough it goes on the shop floor to be bought and consumed by you lovely people but my morning isn’t over, the kitchen needs to be cleaned and tidied ready for the next day and Becky once again soldiers on.
I sit down and have a mini pizza I helped create (added toppings to) and a cappuccino and reflect on my morning
Baking is hard work, you need to be strong mentally and physically to do it but the team effort from Betina and Becky is outstanding, they sort of have a synchronised dance going on that compliments one another and get the job done quickly and efficiently.
The amount of organisation and preparation that goes in to it is mind blowing, so the next time you visit Brod, before you’re about to wrap your chops around a delicacy think about the amazing team behind the product.
Their love, care and attention has crafted your moment of joy.
Would I get hired as an apprentice baker? Unlikely…