12 Hours in a Bakery

Behind the scenes at Hudson Valley Dessert Company in Saugerties.

With delicate layers alternating butter-rich pastry and pockets of air, croissants are a highly coveted item for customers of Hudson Valley Dessert Company. They’re also very time-consuming and labor-intensive. Bakers start first thing to get them ready to serve.  

Baking is only part of the job — what make these treats special are the finishing touches. Here, petit-fours are dipped in chocolate. Once dry, they’ll be embellished with royal frosting flowers.

Bakers can be seen mixing batter or baking their bases. Once cakes are out of the oven and cooled, they’ll get covered in a base coat of frosting, a final frosting layer, and finally, buttercream roses.

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Some of the most useful tools in a bakery are also the smallest: Dough scrapers, timers, and measuring spoons are all essentials. Perhaps most important, though? Sharpies and masking tape for labeling. “If it’s not dated, it gets pitched,” says owner Connie Bailey.

Sugar cookies have been mixed, cut into sweet shapes, and baked. Once cool, they’re dabbed with frosting; bakers will then drag a toothpick through the center of each bead to create a colorful design.

With so much going on all around the bakery, it’s important to keep track of things. Detailed prep lists, ingredient inventory, and rescaling of recipes are all logistical parts of the job.

Hudson Valley Desserts will typically go through three cases of butter in a week — that’s 108 pounds! Blocks of room-temperature, or softened, butter are stacked at varied work stations.

These funny-shaped logs will become almond marble biscotti. Dough is mixed, cut, and weighed, then shaped into logs, coated in an egg-wash and baked. But they’re not done yet…

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…Unlike most cookies that need to cool completely before handling, the logs of biscotti are carved into, while still warm. This is best tackled by a team of two before they get cold. Here, you can see them being sliced into their cookie shape. Once sliced, they’ll be baked again until firm.

It’s the enjoyment of customers and the legacy of previous artisans that make the job so sweet. (Below) “Some of these pans are over 50 years old and have passed through many, many hands,” Bailey says. “The old equipment — beyond being strong and beautiful — reminds us of our culinary history.”

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