I know there are bakers who get away with letting their goods sit out for a few days before making a sale. I've even heard rumors of a few shady characters who will use a pinch of magic to freshen up the appearance of a batch of rolls or loaf of bread so that something sitting on the shelf for a week looks fresh out of the oven. An outrageous practice, in my opinion. I can assure you that you will never bite into a stale loaf of Yeasty Bread.
I suppose it helps that I have a nose for bread. Literally. I can tell you the age of a loaf from one little sniff of the surface. You don't even have to break the crust. They say my grandmother could actually distingiush each unique ingredient and list for you the proportions needed to make the finished product before she ever tasted it.
She was an amazing bovyne. She started Yeasty Breads despite the dozen rowdy calves that were always stampeding through her kitchen, knocking over stacks of mixing bowls and sneaking tastes when their mother wasn't looking. Mom told me so many stories about the little kitchen with the blue floral wallpaper and the fourteen dining chairs that seemed to appear out of the air and that never matched. Each member of the family had their own unique chair. Mom's was the white one with pink daisy stickers she put to use in a moment of creative genius. Grandpa saw it more as childish foolishness but never got around to sanding down and repainting the chair.
Mom thought it was cute how I was always the first one of my cousins to leap at the chance to help grandma in the kitchen. Dad did not. He wanted sons that would earn him profit at constuction sites. Bo Brothers couldn't rely on the mortikings and velosotors who came around looking for summer work when Saggitarius decided to fund yet another condo to increase his millions. He needed good, reliable workers who would show up on time and use the sort of care required when one operates heavy machinery.
I was never going to have the muscle power of my brothers Hal and Gordy. Don't get me wrong. These hooves can knead twelve dozen loaves of bread a day, but they will never be cut out for the burden of carrying steel beams that must withstand tons of concrete. Machines can only do so much. Some jobs require sheer elbow grease.
Dad tried to teach me office work, snorting his impatience every time he found the desk abandoned and the phones ringing impatiently. He always found me helping Grandma to set out cinnamon rolls for display or printing little cards for new offerings in my very best handwriting. It got to the point where I could've recited his lecture and saved him breath.
The whole family was shocked when Grandma left the bakery to me. I was only a year out of school. They expected me to close the doors and settle into the life of a janitor within a month.
It's been nineteen years and I'm still proving their expectations wrong.
There's just something about homemade food that draws Subetans through my door. Goods from the Bake Stop are fine, but they don't have that magical quality that brings back childhood memories and puts a smile on the face of even the most grouchy ghostly.
Once the ovens are well heated, it's time to inventory my supplies. I buy some ingredients like flour and sugar in bulk, while more specialty items are ordered in as required. There's no point in filling your shelves with twenty different flavors of fruit syrup if only three are selling. Dough is useful in this. My minion has never allowed a vital ingredient to run out and all she asks in return is an occasional tail from a cinnamon roll.
The shop has grown in the past few years. I've gone from one display case to three and I've even been able to hire an assistant who can make magic out of a little bit of frosting. I was pretty much exclusively selling breads and sweet rolls until Toca came in with her crazy purple hair spikes and grand ideas for cakes that would draw the eyes of every passerby. While bread is still our specialty, Toca has gotten our name featured in The Baker's Batch.
It wasn't her promise to earn me profits or nimble hands that got her the job. It was her passion for baking. Some days she's here at four, setting up displays for Survival or Luminaire or Morostide. Her energy seems to have no limit. I sometimes wonder if she ever sleeps.
Toca's also great at running the shop. A torrey with boundless energy is simply more attractive to customers than a bovyne of my girth. I'm alright with people, but I much prefer the back room and the warm comfort rising from my ovens.
She never complains about cleanup at the end of the day, even after we've gone through every pan, spoon and measuring cup I own. I make it a point to let her leave early on the slow days, my way of showing appreciation for how hard she works. I can't imagine how she finds the energy to raise three kids of her own but they're all on the honor roll.
Shutting off the lights at night is bittersweet. I know that in a few short hours I'll be back in my kitchen with the ovens heating and the heady aroma of bread in my nostrils but every time I flip that switch, I'm forced to look on those dark glass cases, stripped of the colorful treats that make children smile. Every night I think of Grandma folding my hands around a blob of dough and teaching me how to form the squishy substance into a crescent moon, the head of a kumos, or a heart. I wonder if she's proud of me.