It's almost impossible to wait in line at Bloom Bakery without adding a few extra goodies to your order. Pain au chocolat? Yes, please. A Key lime tart? Sure, why not? And once you learn about the downtown bakery's mission to hire low-income or disadvantaged adults and teach them baking skills, you'll want to throw another muffin in your bag.
"Giving them that training will help them take those skills to another position," says head baker Saidah Farrell. "Whether they stay in the food industry or they move into retail, they'll have some transferable skills."
The Towards Employment venture gives employees four weeks of job training before they step into the bakery. Once on the job, they learn how to bake bread, cookies and pastries while sharpening math and science skills.
"There's a lot of math. There's patience and attention to detail, for sure, with baking," Farrell says. "When you're weighing things out, you kind of have to be focused so you're not making a mistake."
But it's also a creative outlet for Farrell and many of Bloom Bakery's employees. They get to experiment with local ingredients such as Great Lakes Brewing Co.'s Edmund Fitzgerald porter for an oat bread or finesse their techniques on croissants.
"A croissant is a three-day process," says Farrell. "We make the dough the first day. We take the butter, laminate the butter and incorporate the butter into the dough on the second day. On the third day, we roll it out and shape and bake it."
A second location near Cleveland State University is set to open soon, and Farrell is looking forward to spreading Bloom Bakery's mission one loaf at a time.
"What I love most about baking is the quiet of it and then the wow factor of it," she says. "That wow factor is when it's in the case and people are like, Oh, what is that? The end result is how people react to the pastries itself."
More info: bloombakery.com