The Lost Art of Scratch Baking

The Lost Art of Scratch Baking

Written by: Dennis Reinhardt


Time to read 1 min

As a child, stepping into a bakery was like entering a magical world. Rows of sprinkle-dusted cookies, glossy black and white cookies, and plump cinnamon buns lined the shelves, creating a display of edible art. Back then, the complexities of how these treats appeared each morning didn’t cross your mind—you simply knew the bakery made them.


However, the bakery of today faces new challenges. Rising payroll costs, soaring prices of ingredients, and a scarcity of skilled bakers have nudged the industry towards a reliance on premade cake mixes, muffin batters, and ready-to-use icings and toppings. This shift reflects the broader changes in our fast-paced world, where everything costs more and there’s less time to spare.


Anyone who grew up in New York during the 1980s can attest to the abundance of bakeries and cake shops that dotted every street. Summers brought windows filled with strawberry shortcakes and fresh fruit tarts, while winters offered the comforting sight of warm danishes and muffins. Today, these items still grace the shelves, but the journey they take to get there has transformed significantly.


In contemporary bakeries, the key players are often termed 'bakers,' but this title can be misleading. There's a distinct difference between a baker and a mixer. A mixer is the craftsman who creates the dough or batter—the intellectual force of the bakery. Meanwhile, a baker is typically someone who knows how to take this premade mix and bake it to perfection. The mixer has the creative talent; the baker has the technical skill to follow through.


Despite these changes, not all hope is lost for the art of baking. Culinary schools continue to see a rise in enrollments, indicating a growing interest in pastry making and cake decorating. Many people, unfulfilled by their conventional careers, are turning to baking as a hobby, which often evolves into a side business, and eventually into full-fledged bakery operations. This burgeoning passion among the new generation holds promise for a renaissance in bakery culture—a tribute to the cherished traditions of the past, infused with contemporary creativity.


This revival, nurtured by enthusiastic new bakers, could well lead to a new era of bakery wonders, where the charm and craft of old-world baking meet modern innovation and spirit. Let’s embrace this blend of nostalgia and novelty as the recipe for the future of bakeries.