The last of the holidays

December 21, 2012 |  Category:   holidays life the biz

If you know anything about mass baking then you know that it’s full of repetitive tasks. Scooping the dough and flattening them out onto baking trays. Cutting shapes of rolled dough with a cookie cutter, each and every cookie pressed down from cold sheets of dough by hand. It’s like home baking x 100. Then you have to package it all. I think it takes a certain type of person and a certain type of mindset to be able to do this day in and day out. Mark is like a machine in that sense; he can crank out thousands of cookies in a day and if he has a little help like he did this month from our friend Annie who came into the kitchen 2-3 times a week, then the quantities can multiply. This is how you get through the busiest time of year.


I rarely make an appearance in the kitchen, but I did come in to pack marshmallows this week (I’m useless in the baking department), but that too requires hours upon hours of putting one and a half inch cubes into little bags. I think everyone has a different methodology to get through tedious tasks. Maybe you turn on music and zone out, your movements pretty much on automatic. Or maybe you play mind games and challenge yourself. I tend to do the latter, imagining that I’m playing Tetris while trying to stack 2 rows of 6 marshmallow cubes as perfectly as I can in each bag. With brownies, I challenge myself to see how fast I can wrap each one. So far I can consistently wrap a brownie in 7 seconds. That’s about 8 brownies a minute. I’ve cut my brownie wrapping time in half over the last few years.

One thing that might get overlooked is how organized you have to be to run this business. Quite honestly? I don’t know how Mark does it. All I know is that he keeps track of how many cookies he needs to bake in random sheets of scrap paper with tick marks next to each item. With about 30 products in our shop, it’s a lot to keep track of. You have to be highly organized and on top of everything to know what orders need to go out when. At holiday time it can be killer, but in the 5 years we’ve been in business, we have only sent out wrong orders equal to the number of fingers we can count on one hand – and each mistake feels devastating. But human errors do happen occasionally and we try to make up each and every one.

Mark has wrapped up his holiday baking for the year. He’s at the Brooklyn Flea at One Hanson in downtown Brooklyn Saturday and Sunday for one more holiday fling and then a few days off. He’s looking forward to an evening of just sitting on the couch. Right now, however, he’s thrilled that he doesn’t have to bake anything for a whole week.

photo by Matt Feddersen for Brooklyn Magazine

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  • Brenda December 21, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Love seeing the behind the scenes photos – so much shortbread (mmm, whimsy and spice shortbread…)! Happy holidays to you, Mark and the girls!

  • Sarah December 21, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    Happy holidays Jenna, Mark, C & M. Enjoy the week off. I hope you have a wonderful new year as well. Thank you for the time you devote to this blog :)

  • Michelle December 22, 2012 at 1:02 am

    Hi Jenna
    Thanks for shopping my orders to my hotel when your van broke down. So far we have ate through half of the food! We wanted to bring them back to singapore before eating but we couldn’t resist.

    Please convey our thanks to Mark and we would like to wish you a merry Xmas!


  • Rowaida Flayhan December 22, 2012 at 6:03 am

    Wow love the behind the scene photos. Your kitchen looks amazing and delicious love love your sweets. Happy holidays and a wonderful weekend
    Best wishes xo

  • Renita December 22, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Thank you for sharing …. Have a safe and warm holiday!

  • marta December 22, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    The photo of Mark is spot on! Happy Christmas to you, Jenna, and your sweet family!

  • Roseann December 22, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I love these photos in the kitchen. Reminds me of the Maker’s Project. Mark is amazing for doing so much of it himself. Happy holidays to you and your family!

  • Lara December 22, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    I don’t know how you guys do it!

  • Tian December 26, 2012 at 5:33 pm

    Does Mark have hired help for the business?

    Btw I was flicking through the tv channels, and surprise to see the last bit of Mark on United States of America. He looks like the child actor in the movie “About the Boy”, especially the eyes! .. I tried to find the torrent for the episode but unsuccessful. Would you have it recorded as a computer file by any chance?

    Thanks and happy 2013 to you and your family.

  • Carolyn December 27, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    That’s a terrific photo. Usually a lurker rather than a commenter, coming out of the woodwork to say happy holidays!

  • yj January 1, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Happy New Year! I was so happy to catch your family at Brooklyn Flea and grab two of the remaining calendars and shortbread and hot chocolate as gifts. Of course, I couldn’t help but eat all of the shortbread by myself.

  • Est Magazine January 2, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    It is so lovely to watch an artist at work, your images are beautiful. Happy holidays, all the way from Australia!