By Kathleen Bellicchi
We schedule 6-hour baking shifts and bake 60 lbs. of Bellicchi’s Best Biscotti at one time! The average yield is 320-to-340 packages, plus some ends and pieces we use for samples.
Baking our Biscotti is truly a labor of love. The Biscotti goes through 18 steps – all by hand – before it reaches a shelf or basket for you to enjoy.
We start in our kitchen of dreams
We gather ingredients from our pallet and wheel our storage locker to the elevator and up to the third floor of Hope & Main, a kitchen incubator, in Warren, RI.
Hope and Main provides a well-organized work space for members, effective equipment, and a pleasant environment to bake. Large windows overlook a tree lined street, nearby kitchens waft interesting aromas, and a helping hand is available when needed in a pinch.
There are two large crabapple trees whose tops reach the bottom of the windows – in Spring laden with flowers that flutter and fall like confetti over the front yard and are carried swirling into the street on wind currents; in Summer, deep shade to provide a cool space to hold our Schoolyard Market every Sunday noon-2 p.m., rain or shine.
In the Fall we are treated to beautiful, colorful falling leaves. In Winter, the trees are wound with tiny white lights that sparkle in the chill night air and when it snows the branches sport a white coat.
Looking out on soft summer evenings or deep nights of winter, the glow from within Hope & Main casts an inviting light to the world.
Eclectic music to bake to
I’ve done it so often I think I could do it blindfolded. Walk into Kitchen B – turn on lights, wash hands, don gloves, get butter and eggs out of walk-in. Twenty-five minutes later I call to Jay, our baking assistant. Jay Klappa is also a well-respected RI Battle Rapper. He is in charge of music. It’s been an education for me listening to an eclectic selection of “music to bake to.”
Jay carries the large mixing bowl brimming with dough to the workbench that overlooks Main Street, Warren. Using a large dough scraper, Jay hauls the dough mass onto the bench surface. Then we:
- Weigh the dough.
- Roll it into logs.
- Press it into a log form on a sheet tray.
- Put it into the oven.
- Turn the trays half-way through baking.
- Remove it from the oven to a rack to cool.
- Slice it in uniform pieces.
- Arrange it on sheet trays.
- Put it into the oven for a second bake.
- Take it out of the oven and place it on a rack to cool.
- Weigh four pieces to 2 oz. (It may be a bit over, but never under.)
- Place groups of four pieces into cello bags that have been labeled front and back and date stamped.
- Heat seal each bag.
- Place the bags into storage containers.
- Make up store orders or prep our Market inventory.
- Thoroughly clean the kitchen where we work.
- Go out to deliver to stores or arrive at a Market.
- Place it on store shelves or display it on our table at a Market.
Whew! That’s a lotta’ steps to bring you the Best Biscotti – Bellicchi’s Best. We hope you enjoy eating our Biscotti as much as we do baking and making it available to you.
Many hands involved over the years
Over the years we have had interesting people join us – some to bake, others to streamline the packaging process. Listening to Jay’s eclectic music selections and participating and listening to interesting conversations while we package Biscotti, the time flies.
The last step is to leave Kitchen B as clean as we found it. Everything gets scrubbed down, ending with washing the floor. It is a super satisfying feeling (for me) to rinse the mop, roll our storage locker out the door, stand at the bakery door, and look around at the clean space that so recently was flour dusted, dough crusted, stacked with trays and bins of packaged Biscotti, and flip off the light.
Then we wheel our bins of delicious and attractively packaged Bellicchi’s Best Biscotti down to our pallet, a step closer to YOU!