My Boy’s Baking
By Faith Brenneisen
To the innocent passer-by, this unique local bakery welcomes customers for a tasty morning treat designed to accompany a steamy cup of coffee. But during the holidays, this specialty bakery on Nazareth Pike in Bethlehem opens for more than just neighborhood business. Cindy and Robert Levine, owners of My Boy’s Baking, have a team of experienced mixers, rollers, and gift-wrappers of hand-made, certified kosher dairy baked goods like biscotti, cookies and rugelach. There’s no such thing as a slow morning – or day for that matter, as holiday production lines run six days weekly from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The Day Begins
At 8:00 a.m., the cast of bakers performing in today’s production arrive with coffee in-hand. Terry, Nicole, Kathy and Judy are full-time year-round bakers. Robert Levine manages corporate clients and orders. He enjoys surprising the baking team with the day’s direction:“Today we are preparing an order of 600 pounds of biscotti for a Northeast grocery chain,” he says.
“It’s exciting to see the business grow” says Kathy, a Caramel Walnut Biscotti lover, who joined the team not long after the company’s inception in 2005. “We all enjoy finding out who has placed an order and for what.”
In fact, Cindy Levine, a Ginger Almond Biscotti lover, explains that working with vendors like grocery stores and coffee houses is a great way to gain exposure. “One of our monthly corporate customers recently told us she picks up biscotti from My Boy’s Baking at her local grocery store.” For some, the convenience of purchasing the products nearby is priceless. (Several markets and coffee shops in the Lehigh Valley carry My Boy’s Baking products.)
Once Robert—whose favorite is Lemon Coconut Almond Biscotti–kicks off the day’s direction, the real work begins though there’s no denying that he loves to make people smile.
Weights and Measures
Each day Terry,–whose top flavor favorites of Biscotti picks are Tropical Fruit and Caramel Apple (no nuts)– makes the dough. Accuracy is important as she weighs the ingredients in order to ensure that the exact recipe will provide the baked good for which My Boy’s Baking is renowned. Ingredients are mixed the entire day just as all other categories of baking tasks continue throughout the day as well. After mixing the ingredients, the dough is submitted in its consistency to Nicole, whose favorite Biscotti is Chocolate Chip Toffee Pecan.
The Rolling of the Dough
During the holidays, the bakery welcomes various shifts of seasonal food artisans who assist the year-round staff in their traditional roles. Nicole has an assistant who weighs the dough so that she can focus on the task of rolling. Skilled in her craft, she can roll 400 dough logs for Biscotti in just five hours! With 16 unique types of biscotti (the traditional twice-baked cookie) and BisCookie (the newest biscotti product baked just once in the shape of a cookie), Nicole’s skill comes in handy when the day’s orders demand her attention. Once rolled, the dough is then placed on racks and baked.
Until a year ago, when a bread cutting machine was purchased, there were 10 people cutting logs of baked biscotti into the individual cookie-sized final product seen in stores. The new bread cutter is used to cut one biscotti log at a time and keeps one person cutting the twice-baked dough logs the entire day. Cindy and Robert “want to keep the handmade artisan look and feel to our products.” Hundreds of twice-baked dough logs can be cut into Biscotti in six hours.
Judy, (who loves Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti), individually packages the product, weighs it in accordance with weights and measures guidelines, then seals the bag and finishes it off with a precious hand-cut bow. Today she has packaged 1200 bags of biscotti for a northeast grocery store chain, placing hand-cut and hand-tied ribbons on each package.
The production line here is a masterful representation of a baked good production symphony. A true work of art is being observed in action as skilled professionals are empowered to create many beautiful pieces. Cindy lets us in on a little-known secret: “Each type of biscotti has its own identifying drizzle.” Finding it hard to believe, after careful review of 16 trays, it was confirmed. This is an internal design so that any employee looking at a tray of biscotti doesn’t have to closely examine the product ingredients to determine which flavor it is. Merely knowing that the style of the chocolate drizzle on your biscotti tells a story of the exact flavor is a little-known fact.
And it’s no wonder employees are excited to come to work as My Boy’s Baking continues to receive national recognition. Not only has their biscotti made it to the White House, but they have been featured on the Rachael Ray Show four times!
My Boy’s Baking doesn’t always get all the attention, though, as they have private label biscotti and rugelach placed in an Italian market in Philadelphia, also.
Cindy tells us the economy hasn’t had a huge affect on their business.“People still want to treat themselves and others. A beautiful presentation that will be sincerely appreciated can be purchased for just $25.00.” Gift baskets are popular, and run between $15 – $200. Kathy begins and ends her day by professionally wrapping special gift presentations that during the year could be prepared on the dime, but in holiday seasons, pre-ordering gift packages is best to be sure your personal deadline can be accommodated. Last holiday season, the tracked number of gift packages amounted to 5,000! From large corporations to small local companies and individual customers, gift baskets can be enjoyed by anyone. When someone receives a gift from My Boy’s Baking, they are receiving a heartfelt package that has been individually crafted and hand-wrapped with care. The recipient of something so delightful is sure to feel special.
My Boy’s Baking is located at 196 Nazareth Pike in Bethlehem. Orders can be called in to (610-759-4552), faxed to (610-759-4525) or emailed to: Robert@MyBoysBaking.com.
Faith Brenneisen, a Lehigh Valley resident for nearly 15 years, enjoys reporting on the interesting success stories of local businesses.