Everyday Explorations: The CSU Bakeshop

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Apr 162013
 

Author: Kelsey Contouris

Two to four hundred dozen. That’s the number of cookies the Colorado State University Bakeshop doles out to campus dining centers each day, in addition to a wide variety of cakes, pies, doughnuts and other sugary treats. And it all happens from a fairly obscure location – the back of Edwards Hall.

The bakeshop has a separate room for making gluten-free goods.

The bakeshop has a separate room for making gluten-free goods.

As a freshman who eats (and works) at the dining centers, I’m quite familiar with the vast quantity of available desserts. Since I’ve always been curious about where they come from, I finally decided to set up a quick tour with the bakeshop manager, Joan Smith. So while this exploration wasn’t as everyday as the rest, I still found it equally fascinating.

Bakeshop employees prepare dozens of hoagie rolls for Braiden.

Bakeshop employees prepare dozens of hoagie rolls for Braiden’s kitchen.

As you would expect, the first thing that hit me upon entering the bakeshop was the delightful, sugary smell. The second thing was the flurry of activity – just about every area of the kitchen had a staff member or two prepping a different mixture or dough. I found Smith and she began showing me around.

We first passed by a station where banana cream pie was being made, which I noticed in Ram’s Horn later that day. According to Smith, everything goes out fresh each morning – employees arrive as early as 2 a.m. to begin baking breads.

We then stopped by a student hourly who was placing cookie dough onto baking sheets. Seeing as the dining halls have a seemingly endless supply of cookies, I had always wondered whether or not the bakeshop makes them from scratch. Not surprisingly, they don’t – the pre-portioned dough comes from Otis Spunkmeyer and gets baked at the bakeshop (or even at the dining halls if they happen to run out). Because the dining halls order so many cookies, Smith said, the bakeshop itself wouldn’t be able to handle making them all from scratch. They do, however, make some cookies themselves, such as the popular hippie cookie (which happens to be a favorite of mine) sold at Ram’s Horn Express.

Smith showed me a number of other baked goods being made. There were hoagie rolls being prepared that would be sent to Braiden’s dining center, large chocolate chip muffins to be sent to Ram’s Horn Express and T-Dex, as well as cookie bars, tiramisu cakes and chocolate cake – all from scratch. And all of this gets done by a total of nine student hourlies and nine state classified employees.

Freshly baked tiramisu cakes

Freshly baked tiramisu cakes

“We wouldn’t be able to do it without them,” Smith said.

She also told me that students studying food and nutrition sciences occasionally do practicums at the bakeshop, and she said she feels privileged to provide such an experience.

I feel privileged myself just being able to get a firsthand look at where CSU’s delectable treats are crafted. I had never imagined that such a large operation could take place in the back portion of Edwards, let alone practically in secret – I’ve asked several of my friends if they knew where the bakeshop was, and most of them had no idea. But from the wee hours of the morning all throughout the year, CSU Bakeshop employees work their magic to provide campus with its fresh, sugary staples.