A day in the life of a baker

baker pouring chocolate from jog over top of cakes

Alice Piper

Posted May 13, 2022

Have you ever wondered how your fresh pastries and cakes make it onto the bakery shelves? Here’s a glimpse inside the sweet (and savoury) life of some of Melbourne’s best bakers.

Getting up in the wee hours of the morning is part and parcel of being a baker at one of Melbourne’s best bakeries. For Le Petit Gâteau Executive Pastry Chef, Amit Sinha, as well as Candied Bakery’s Orlando Artavilla, it’s been their regular routine for as long as they can remember.

Working in the industry for 17 and 18 years respectively, both men know their way around an oven, as well as what it takes to run a successful and beloved bakery in a city and state obsessed with baked treats such as croissants and pies.

The working day starts early

Sinha opens the doors to Le Petit Gâteau at 458 Little Collins Street at around 6am to bake fresh croissants, macarons, and all sorts of speciality cakes using original recipes - something the bakery has become known for amongst the Melbourne CBD crowd.  
For Artavilla, he opens his Spotswood bakery in Melbourne’s inner west around 3am to bake specialty breads such as sourdough, rye, olive loaves, seeded loaves, and classic whites, as well as doughnuts, pastries, croissants, Danishes, and other sweet treats.

The breakfast rush is real at Candied Bakery, with customers flocking to the bakery’s sweet aroma as soon as they can: “Right as we open at 7am it’s madness,” says Artavilla. “We want people to be able to get what they want as soon as they walk in, so from 6.30am we’re doing the finishing touches on things like the croissants, so it’s all ready and waiting for them.” 

For Le Petit Gâteau, the day starts a little differently, with more of a focus on sweet offerings.

“We start the day with breakfast pastries like Danishes and croissants,” says Sinha. “Then we start with cakes, which we fill the shop with.”

Both bakeries work at a rapid pace, with Sinha and Artavilla saying things just must get done. 

“Because things sell out quickly, we have backups," says Artavilla. “Things like doughnuts, cinnamon rolls, baguettes, and breads – we don’t like to run out.”

Sinha agrees that selling out of baked goods should be the exception, not the rule. 

“The pace is really fast, and things just have to get done,” he says. “We don’t want people lining up waiting for their morning coffee and pastry, and the shop not being ready.” 

What it takes to run one of Melbourne’s best bakeries

While each bakery specialises in a different area, both put incredible care and time into their creations.

“Each cake is glazed, which takes time to get done,” says Sinha. “Maybe one cake you see in the shop gets two or three days to finish it, starting from baking it, making the filling and the layers and then finishing it off.”

Artavilla says the process for his speciality breads is just as intricate: “Each bread needs to ferment, prove, be rolled and shaped, and then baked,” he says. “It’s a five-hour process.”

So why do Sinha and Artavilla love baking so much?

“To see what I’ve made and then displayed, it gives me immense pleasure and happiness,” says Sinha. 

Artavilla agrees: “I just love seeing people happy,” he says. “As soon as they bite into something and I see their face, it’s the best face ever.”

But the early mornings? “Yeah, those are tough,” says Artavilla. 

“I think every pastry chef needs a lot of passion, because the early starts aren’t always fun,” agrees Sinha.

chocolate cake with chocolate garnish

 Le Petit Gâteau create exquisite cakes like this Brownie Passionfruit Chocolate Gateau.

What bakery items are the biggest sellers?

“The doughnuts for sure,” says Artavilla. “We can do anywhere between 150-250 doughnuts a day, so it’s important we always have backups ready to be fried.”

“Baguettes are also a really popular one,” he adds. “We always have backups proving in the cool room so we can make sandwiches throughout the whole day.”  
For Le Petit Gâteau, it’s the Brownie Passionfruit Chocolate Gateau that sells up a storm: “This is definitely our most popular item” says Sinha. “It would be the first to go on the shelf, but we can do anywhere between 60-70 showcase cakes a day, so we make sure we have backups to refill the cabinet.”  

So, whether you find yourself in Melbourne’s CBD or the inner west, Le Petit Gâteau and Candied Bakery have your sweet and savoury needs covered.

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