Those four words opened doors to The Bakery Society Pittsburgh (TBSP), the region's first bakery incubator.
The nonprofit is designed to prepare amateur bakers for the big leagues. Each baker-in-residence spends 18 months at TBSP developing a business model. After 15 months, the bakers are talking with banks to work out the finances of their business; by the final two months, the residents hope to own a bakery.
TBSP currently houses ten bakers. Three are residents, and the rest rent out kitchen space.
TBSP is massive. The bakery is located in Mount Oliver, in the building once occupied by Kullman’s Bakery. Kullman's used the space for 60 years before TBSP moved in. TBSP preserves the bakery’s heritage, displaying original light fixtures, a grain mill, and some very creepy dolls.
Baked goods are sold on the first floor, the cases color-coded by baker. The kitchen is located upstairs. When I walked in, five bakers were utilizing the space. Each piece of equipment was sourced from reclaimed machinery or Construction Junction in Point Breeze. The oven, from 1965, was big enough to walk into.
Now, TBSP is expanding its programming. Starting September 29, TBSP will offer classes for bakers ages 6-16. The courses will focus on sanitation, decoration, and for the older students, the basics of baking.
As everyone knows (or should know), it’s impossible to walk out of a bakery empty-handed. To the delight of my coworkers, I left TBSP with a box full of sugar. I chose a pastry from each baker to sample the diversity of baking style.
These up-and-coming bakers are churning out new bakes every day. It’s worth a trip to Mount Oliver for the impressive work by Pittsburgh’s future bakers. Take advantage of these selections now before the line is out the door.
From Christina Decker’s case, I snagged two things: the thickest brownie I had ever seen and a peanut butter thumbprint cookie. There’s nothing better than a cakey brownie that stays moist, and Decker nailed the texture. The outer crust was crunchy but the inside was chocolatey and provided a nice balance.
If you like peanut butter, this is the thumbprint for you. The addition of jam mellows out the stick-to-your-mouth feel of the peanut texture. If you love PB&J's, eat this cookie.
Christopher J. Hoffman
Christopher is a bread guy. His loaves are artisanal, beautifully scored and baked. Because I’m one person, I didn’t buy a loaf of bread. Instead, I went for a cinnamon roll.
It wasn’t the thick, doughy cinnamon roll I'd expected; rather, it was a croissant rolled with cinnamon sugar and butter. And it was delicious. The dough flaked off the roll, leaving you with an unexpectedly sharp flavor.
Jewel A. Edwards
Jewel is a cookie queen. Her space in the case is filled with outrageous flavors. I chose, at the recommendation of the cashier, the pumpkin spice cookie.
The cookie had a little puff to it and was dotted with white chocolate chips. My first bite was filled with cinnamon and allspice. Not too pumpkin-y and not too heavy. A classic treat done right.
The front case was filled with bakes by house bakers. From here, I picked an apple cider doughnut.
The doughnut was just the right balance of a crispy, fried outside with a dense, cake-like inside. It wasn’t too thick or too fluffy. Just the right texture, with a subtle hint of apple. Ideal for a crisp fall day.