This is part two of my interview with Caitlin Mandigo, bread baker at City Bakery; part one of our conversation ran yesterday.
There are all sorts of romantic notions about what it's like to bake bread. What's it really like? Baking bread is hard work, but definitely very rewarding. I'm at the bakery at 2 a.m. five days a week, and for the first hour, I'm by myself, which means that if anything goes wrong it's up to me -- and only me -- to figure it out. There's also quite a bit of stress in getting the deliveries out on time, especially when there are chaotic situations, like if the cooler breaks and we have to redo all of our bread, or if it's so cold outside that the bread won't rise, even if it's in the proofer. It's a job that's hard on your body, too. I'm always lifting heavy stuff, mainly fifty-pound bags of flour, which, when added up, is about 1,000 pounds a day. I've watched many people come and go. It's physically and mentally demanding, so you have to come in every day well rested and ready to face the grind.