Best. Day. Ever.

Posted by Anne Yorks on Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It's probably no surprise that I'm a HUGE Penn State fan. As a graduate, my heart belongs to Dear Old State. Afterall, my mom and dad went to PSU. My uncle. My brother. My husband. 

Yesterday, I really had a dream come true. My friend and colleague (although, she's really out of my league), Heather Luse invited me to tour the Penn State Bakery! Whoa! What a fantastic opportunity. Penn State + Baked Goods + Me = Heaven!

Here is a picture of Heather and I next to the HUGE artisan bread oven. This thing is gigantic!

Isn't Heather so cute. Heather is the Executive Pastry Chef of the Penn State Bakery. But, you might also recognize her as the official Cake Lady of Centre Hall and the surrounding area! Her company, Delectable Delights, produces some of the most beautiful wedding and event cakes in the area.  



She also does CUPCAKES!!

We went to lunch after my bakery tour and all three of the ladies working at the restaurant were clients of Heather! They just raved and raved and raved about her cakes and decorating skills!! It was so cool!

I really felt honored that Heather would take a few hours out of her busy schedule to show me the Penn State Bakery. 

I took a few photos during my tour. I was drooling all over the ovens, mixers, racks, cookie sheets, sprinkles, cookie cutters! It was all so impressive! 

The Penn State Bakery serves 6 dining halls, the HUB, Otto's and Blue Chip Bistro, Cafe Laura, Java Catering, 11 Commonwealth Campus locations, The Nittany Lion Inn, Penn Stater, BJC, the Creamery, and the Penn State Daycare Centers.

In one year, they make:

89,631 Loaves of Bread                46,356 Pastries

87,726 Muffins                               7,051 Pies

828,812 Rolls                                93,736 Batches of Pizza Dough

19,519 Whoopie Pies                    177,096 Breakfast Pastries

1,547 SHEETS of Brownies           46,356 Mini Desserts

1,444,266 Cookies (wow!)            47,460 Cupcakes

177,156 Donuts                            and 4,456 pounds of icing!!!

This is just one day's orders!

A monster mixer - making bread dough.

The artisan bread oven.

Bread dough rising in a separate, humidity-controlled room.

Tarts being made in 'specialty desserts' section of the bakery.

I was so excited to see some cut-out cookies for Veterans Day. 

Luster Dust Galore!

Containers and containers of cookie cutters. 

HUGE boxes of sugar crystals. Wowza! That's a lot of bling!

A rack oven. The bakery rack is lifted up by a hook in the oven and rotated for even baking. I love this oven!!

I personally love the Penn State Chocolate Chip Cookies! They are amazing! The PSU Bakery produces both the cookies and the dough to delivered to their clients. That way, the dining commons, etc, can bake their own cookies (using the bakery dough) and serve them up warm to the students. It's the Blue & White way to eat a cookie!!

In case you are wondering, the PSU bakery has a super neat recipe computer program. Each recipe is assigned a number. When getting ready to make an order, Heather can put in the number of pounds she needs to fill the order. In this case, she needed 620 pounds of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. Let that sink in for a minute. 620 pounds!!!

It takes a lot of ingredients and organization to make this operation work smoothly. The warehouse is gigantic and basically has everything and more than a grocery store. There is a refrigerated space and a non-refrigerated space. Fork lifts whizzed in and out of aisles collecting needed ingredients. 

Just to give you an idea of it's size. The warehouse has more than 2,600 items on inventory, and throughout the year distributes 1,675,000 packets of ketchup, 469,892 pounds of French fries, and 431,920 pounds of cheese.  This one warehouse services 48 residence halls!

The bakery is definitely a team operation. Certain people are assigned to weigh and prep ingredients. Then someone else mixes them. Then someone else bakes, decorates, etc. Everyone was buzzing with activity while I was touring. And even though things were big and busy, everyone was still very friendly. 

I didn't get to see the Nittany Lion that day, but it looks like he is also a huge fan of yummy treats too!

I hope you enjoyed the virtual tour through the bakery. Thank you to Heather for making my trip so special! I really enjoyed everything! 

For the glory,