Knead to Know with Hollis – July 6, 2021

It’s now the first official week of summer holidays! The week my daughters have been waiting for for months! And today, we’re checking off the first item on our summer bucket list – a trip to Canada’s Wonderland (or ’Alice and Wonderland’ as my girls call it). I love that they call it that, I don’t even correct them. They are sooooooo excited. And since it’s been two summers since we were there last, the excitement is higher, they are taller (and can get on the ‘big kid’ rides!) and hopefully have more stamina.

Anything with children takes a lot of preparation. A quick run to the grocery store, a day trip, let alone a vacation. But there is a natural progression. With my first child, the preparation felt endless and I packed ALL THE THINGS every time I left the house to ensure that I was prepared for any and all situations. As she got older and more babies arrived, I didn’t prep less, but I would say I was much more relaxed because I knew what to expect. I got smarter, started earlier and learned what was really important to have on hand. And so, six years and four children later, it’s a well-oiled (if a little chaotic) machine.

I feel this parallels the journey we’ve lived with Thanksgiving in the Murphy’s bakery. Our first year, we had NO idea what to expect. We had never experienced a Thanksgiving before as bakery owners. And while it is truly a blur of pastry, late nights and early mornings, that first year was a success. We added new pie flavours (it IS a pie holiday after all), we rolled pastry, made fillings, made several mistakes (we *may* have whipped creamed lemon meringue pies that our sleepy eyes *thought* were coconut cream…) BUT it was still a success. We sold 120 pies that year!

Eleven Thanksgivings later and we are (hopefully) 11 times smarter and more experienced than that first year back in 2010. We sell over 11 times more pies then we did that first year and so it takes, well, probably 11 times more effort and planning. Which is why the official start to summer holidays means the official start to all things Thanksgiving. While this time of year may not scream Thanksgiving to you, it rings loud and clear for our bakery team.

In order to meet the demand for pies and tarts over Thanksgiving weekend, we have to work at making pastry to stock the freezer for months ahead of time. We have to keep building up our reserves until our freezers literally can’t hold any more. It is a finely calculated, incredibly well executed, long haul until that mid-October weekend when the world screams for pie, the ovens are filled over and over and over, and the freezer is left empty.

The pies simply do not make themselves. It is the people behind the pies that are the heroes of Thanksgiving at the farm. Our incredible bakery team! They prepare for months (literally), roll thousands of rounds of pastry, and work countless hours leading up to the big day. We could not do what we do without their skills, hard work and drive, and we are so thankful to have the best bakers around.

Over the years, we have learned that we need to start earlier and earlier in the summer to hit our pastry targets, we have to bake more than we think we need, and we need to always have extra whip cream stabilizer on hand. We have learned to plan, prep and drum up the stamina to reach that pie holiday. We have learned that the start of July means the start of Thanksgiving in the bakery.

And so, while I am preparing for my own mini-Everest at Wonderland today, loading up the sunscreen, sneaking contraband granola bars in my backpack and ensuring we have hats, water and more sunscreen…. our bakery team is rolling up their sleeves (and lots of pastry) and diving head first into the Thanksgiving to-do list.

Wishing you all the prep, planning and excellent execution of whatever you’re tackling today!