Cuckoo! Ever wondered what a Cuckoo baker's shift looks like? As you know, all our cakes are baked fresh on the day, so the baking begins while most of us are still in bed! This month, we're taking you to the heart of our headquarters for a behind the scenes chat with one of our bakers, Hannah. Warning: this blog post may leave you with a craving for two sleeps, sushi and a uniquely zingy flavour combo! Over to you, Hannah...
Who are you and what is your role at Cuckoo's Bakery?
Hi, I’m Hannah and I am one of the cake decorators that works at the bakery. We make all the cupcakes, traybakes, scones and celebration cakes fresh every day, so it’s a long night to make sure it's all ready for the shops opening in the morning!
Describe a typical shift.
I come in between 3-4am and start with filling all the cupcakes with the jams, ganaches or caramels. Then start the piping and paletting of the cupcakes. Topping crunch bars, cutting brownies then after the delivery leaves us at 8.30am we start preparing for the next day. Making all the buttercreams, and making sure everything is in place for the early start the next day.
Any secrets for dealing with the early mornings of a baker's life?
I am a huge fan of the 2 sleeps method!!! I finish work anywhere from 12-2pm then it's time for my first sleep as soon as I get home. Shift work, anyone will tell you, is hard. If you don’t get your sleep pattern under control it just makes it harder. Wake up about 4-5 then up a few hours more before it's back to bed for 10. But I need a long, long sleep my first day off… perhaps I've not mastered the sleep thing yet.
What is your favourite flavour combination?
I make an amazing tarte tatin with pineapple, lemongrass and chilli. It's perfect as a combination - the lemongrass delicately scents the caramel, the pineapple is juicy and the chilli adds some beautiful heat.
Talk us through your favourite part of your job.
Paletting – this is when we use a palette knife to put a design in the buttercream on the cupcakes. Its hard to get a hang of with people saying it can take up to a year but once you have it you feel really proud of the achievement. I love to see an entire tray of cupcakes I have just decorated all lined up, looking beautiful and uniform.
What's on your stereo at work?
Pretty eclectic - David Bowie or Nina Simone. Love Motown or sometimes the Charts. If we are needing an extra push for the order to go out at 8.30am, Eye of the Tiger always comes on, sad but completely true!
Best ever Cuckoo's creation?
Sea Salted Caramel Brownie.
If you could bake one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
I love making bread at home, it's so therapeutic. The bakery is a very fast-paced work environment. So to be able to come home and take a leisurely day making bread is heaven.
Any hidden gems or tips for places to eat in Edinburgh?
Sushiya near Haymarket station. Love love love the California and Tokyo rolls here. And The Other Place in Broughton, it's got amazing chilli cheese fries and burgers, plus its Dog friendly!
Do you have any advice for budding bakers?
If you have a genuine passion for working in a bakery or kitchen it is an amazing career to get into. I get up every morning and look forward to spending the first part of my day at work. Awesome people, doing what you love and people who appreciate it!
Who or what inspires you most?
Social media is a huge influence! Pinterest, facebook, buzzfeeds, Instagram, youtube. Also I have hundreds of cook books. I love reading through them of an afternoon. Seeing how someone has plated something, an additional ingredient to a dish you want to try or making menus in your head and deciding who will be your Guinea pigs! Check out Cuckoo's Facebook page for a taste of our delights!
What has been the highlight of your summer?
Sitting in my mum and dad's back garden at the mouth of the Clyde, doing a BBQ, having a glass of Prosecco and having a huge grin because it's been my perfect day, with family in such a stunning place!
Describe a perfect day off.
Get up and eat left over curry for breakfast. Go for a walk with my best friend Lisa and her dog Belle (love of my life), to Inverleith Park and down to The Raeburn for lunch, look in the charity shops at Stockbridge on the way home and stop into Cuckoo’s Bakery for some cupcakes to go with our cup of tea later on. I’m just describing what happened on Saturday!
If you could work in a Cuckoo's Bakery anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
Singapore – I grew up there and got my first job in a kitchen working as a pastry chef after university. The food is second to none! It's a truly cosmopolitan city, people from all over the world bringing all their different countries' cuisines to life! Cuckoo’s Bakery would definitely find a home here!
We hope you enjoyed learning more from behind the scenes at Cuckoo's! Our next Blog will follow soon. In the meantime, pop in to one of our shops and try a cake - it may well have been decorated by Hannah! Cuckoo for now!