Bigger Better Baking by SSBHM Hot! Hot! Hot! I had removed something from the oven and even though I had used silicone padded gloves, my hands felt like they were burning! I slid the large bakery tray into one of the cart rack shelf slots and took off the gloves to look at my hands. They were red but didn’t appear to have been burnt. Unfortunately, the croissant didn’t fair quite as well. The outer crust was singed and wouldn’t be sellable. A tray of pain au chocolate, or chocolate croissants for those uninitiated into French baking, were very edible, but with the singing, just didn’t have the appearance to be sold as premium faire. So, what do you do with a full tray of chocolate croissants except to start to eat them! “Hey Mary, want a chocolate croissant? I had an accident and they’re singed,” I called out to the cake decorator working in the next room. “Oh no! I’m sorry!” I could hear in Mary’s tone that she was truly concerned and disappointed to hear of my mishap. She was a really nice woman that knew that this was a costly mistake, and she really understood how important this product was to our profitability. “I can’t eat any, sorry. I’ve got to watch my weight – my daughter’s wedding is in a month and I don’t want to be the fat mother in-law my new son in-law will worry that his new bride might become.” Mary was plump and curvy, but not what I would ever consider fat. She was about 5’ 8” tall and a voluptuous middle-aged woman that probably at most carried an extra 15 pounds on her frame. I thought that her response wasn’t really about the wedding, but more encouragement to me again. She really seemed to like to see me eat. “I think you need to try them and see how they taste,” she suggested. Oh great idea! Encourage the new owner to indulge more. After all, he’d already gained 20 lbs. over the past month, and definitely had developed a weakness for all of the products the bakery produced. Anyway, I laughed and took three croissants from the tray and carried them to the office. I thought about just taking two, but after all they were unsaleable and maybe someone else would like one, or since I hadn’t eaten breakfast, it wouldn’t be horrible for me to eat three. Yep, I was getting used to justifying indulging and definitely building a capacity to do so. When I got to the office no one else was in yet. So, I ate the three croissants without really thinking more about it. They were still delicious. I picked off the blackened crust top, and voila, they were nearly perfect! I wrote down in my log book that I needed to turn the temp down on the ovens for the next batch, at least over the final two minutes of baking. I couldn’t afford to repeat this mistake. A tray of croissant represented nearly $500 of profit, not to mention lots of my customers would be disappointed that I didn’t have croissants to sell this morning. After eating the third croissant I wondered if perhaps I could perhaps salvage some of the croissants by taking the singed tops off and perhaps adding something to their tops, so I returned to the rack and slid the tray out to take a better look. I could try taking the top crust off and coating them with an icing. I wasn’t sure it would work, or if my customers would mind, but it was at least worth a try. I mixed dark chocolate and added some coffee to create a mocha flavor, and then used it as a ganache to the croissants. I didn’t have to label the products that were sold unpackaged with their calories, and that’s a good thing, because these were definitely going to be quite a bit more fattening. I think the idea worked. They looked scrumptious in my opinion and I asked Mary what she thought. She agreed they appeared artistic and very appealing. I even got her to try a bite, but that was all. So, I finished it and even had another just to be sure. Yep! They were definitely delicious and looked good too! The front counter staff arrived as I delivered the tray of croissants for them to place in the display case. Martha asked me what they were and I said, “they are pain au chocolate extraordinaire!” And, we both laughed. She and Linda asked if they could try one between them, and of course I insisted. “Wow! This is great!” Linda definitely really liked my new creation. “Oh my! It’s so rich!” Martha also seemed equally very enthusiastic. “But, there’s no way I’m going to eat half of this! My dress is already getting so tight! I’ve gained 18 lbs since working here 6 months ago.” I laughed. Linda then also said she wouldn’t finish her half. So, I ate the remaining pieces. I couldn’t let them go to waste. I think this is how it began – my journey to becoming a SSBHM. I would have some accident in the bakery that I’d end up trying to correct and would wind up eating half a dozen or more pieces of what had failed, or what I would do to try to save the day by augmenting the pieces with icing, nuts, or chocolate shavings. Fortunately, what I did, did make the items even better than they originally were, and I started to gain weight fast. As it turned out the croissants were a hit and I sold out within an hour of the store opening. Tomorrow I would begin to increase my batch sizes and experimented with a caramel ganache on the almond filled croissants. I was in a daring mood and really liked having fun being a little creative. Of course I ate almost a dozen croissant that morning! It’s a ritual now. I will eat four to six croissant each morning. Maintaining product consistency is a top priority! So, trying what you make regularly just makes sense. The tasting definitely has shown up on my waistline. In just three months I was surprised that I had gained another 59 lbs. In all I had gained 79 lbs. in just about four months. I remember it so vividly because when I stepped on the scale I was just one pound from being 300 lbs. Although I had known I was getting fat, it didn’t bother me, and in fact I liked how it felt. Also, no one else seemed to mind. My staff and customers all really seemed to more than approve, and it really seemed Martha was encouraging it. She wanted me to regularly try her cakes, as well as the patisserie that I was making. Trying cakes is even more dangerous than croissants because if you try a piece, then there’s a whole cake left to eat. After Martha attended her daughter’s wedding, she eased up on her restraint and got quite plump. She and the rest of the staff all seemed on the verge of getting fat, but I was by far the most rotund. I think that’s the way they wanted to keep it too. I swear they were always willing to try new things, but I would wind up eating two thirds of what anyone else was trying. At our one year anniversary – from when I bought the bakery – I wasn’t too surprised by having become quite rotund. I now weighed more than 320 lbs., or approximately a 100 lbs. more than I had weighed before the purchase. Over our second year of my proprietorship my gaining slowed but I had still managed to pack on another 55 lbs. At 6’2” 375 lbs. I had grown into my role as a master baker. What will the next year or two bring? I’m single and my hours seem to keep me home alone quite a lot, and I continue to have a passion for pastry. I imagine I could easily reach 400 lbs. or even more. In some ways it’s scary, but in other ways it’s very exciting too. I like being big and love indulging in great foods!