While 3:30 a.m. is the end of a long night of studying for many students, it is the beginning of the workday for Lead Baker Steve Mulready of the Kutz Bakery. Throughout the day, he and his team bake enough bread, pastries and desserts to supply both dining halls, Louis’ Deli, the C-Store, the on-campus cafes such as Starbucks and Peet’s, as well as any catering orders the bakery receives.
Mondays through Thursdays, Mulready arrives on campus no later than 4:30 a.m., and on Fridays he arrives at 3:30 a.m. to start working. Throughout the morning, his workers arrive in shifts to jump in and help. “We have to [start early] because of the breakfast stuff that goes out. We are baking stuff fresh every morning,” Mulready explained. By 6 a.m., all breakfast items are completed and loaded onto the bakery truck for the breakfast delivery around campus.
“We just kind of run through the day,” Mulready said. As soon as the breakfast food is delivered at 6 a.m., the team of three bakers are on to lunch, preparing all the breads, muffins and desserts needed. “By 10, we try to get out the door with lunch stuff.”
On average, the bakery produces 600-700 units of each specialty dessert, such as cupcakes and sheet cakes. The bakery sends out about 1,000 of the little cookies each day, which arrive in pucks of dough from Spunkmeyer, a baked goods company.
Hand scooping dough for all the little cookies would be too labor intensive, Mulready explained. Only his specialty cookies are made and scooped entirely in house. For example, the vegan cookies are from a recipe developed by Mulready himself over the summer. “That was just something I kind of started playing with in the summertime when I had time just mixing stuff,” he said.
“When they said let’s do vegan, I said we can do it, but let’s really do it!” Mulready exclaimed. Unlike an average at-home baker, Mulready researches all the ingredients he puts into the food. “We use sugar in the raw [in our vegan cookies]. Real sugar is actually made and processed with bones of animals … if you’re a true vegan, you have to buy a certain sugar.”
Just as he ensured every ingredient in the vegan cookies was truly void of any animal product, he puts the same level attention to detail in everything he makes. “Craisins. Those things are processed with sunflower oil. So if you’re allergic to sunflower oil, you could eat one of those” and not suspect anything ahead of time.
We really put a lot of attention into the different food categories, Mulready said. Since starting at Brandeis three years ago, learning what it means to run a Kosher pareve kitchen has been an important part of Mulready’s job. Much of this has meant learning what to look for when purchasing food products, he explained. “Rabbi helps me a lot.”
One unique aspect of the kosher kitchen is that it has no dairy—the definition of pareve. This is an unusual set up for a baker who uses ingredients such as butter and milk every day. To ensure his kosher kitchen is producing the best food possible, Mulready has become innovative. Recently, he baked a pumpkin cheesecake using a tofu substitute instead. “It tastes just like a cheesecake,” he said, explaining that most people could not even tell he hadn’t used dairy. Rather, he turned tofu into a cream form and added confectioners sugar to replicate cream cheese.
During a tour of the kitchen, Mulready pointed out that every item used in the kosher kitchen is labeled with a blue indicator mark. If a baker plans to take any of the kosher dishes out of the kosher kitchen, the baker wraps the dishes in plastic to ensure there is no cross-contamination.
The small oven in the pareve bakery is Mulready’s biggest challenge. Supplying home-made challah every week for Shabbat, Mulready bakes about 35 loaves for around 180 people. However, unlike the oven in the non-Kosher bakery, he can only fit 12 challas in at a time, making timing key in the challah-making process. “If you stay ahead of it, you’re fine,” he said.
Amanda McCaffrey, a baker who joined the team about a month and a half ago, said she is always surprised by the amount of food they are able to make in a day. “It’s a lot of fun!” she said. “It’s nice to work with a boss that cares.” According to McCaffrey, Mulready is hands on in the kitchen and will work right next to her, preparing food and getting everything ready to send out.
“I get right in with them. I’m not a sit-down guy. I [have to] move,” Mulready said. Baking since his first culinary class in high school, he has not lost his love of the trade. “I … just got hooked on it!” While Mulready’s great-grandfather, grandfather and father were all firemen, Mulready can’t help but bring the heat in the kitchen with his passion for baking every day at Brandeis.