Holiday Ready

This local baker is gearing up for pie season.

YOU THINK YOU’RE busy cooking for the holidays? Forget it. You could be Miriam de Leon. She and her staff hand-make nearly 400 apple, pumpkin and pecan holiday pies as well as the 600 other pieces of baked goods they produce on weekends. Were you a baker in Guatemala? No, I was a preschool teacher, but during my training they offered me a class in baking and I said, “No, I’m not interested in that. Not at all.” I thought I was never going to need it. And look at me now. When did you start here? September 1, 2007. I was 19 and I had just come from Guatemala and an ex-teacher of mine was working here. She said, “I have a job for you.” Whoa, I said, “can I take a few days to rest?” No, she said, “you have to start now.” I started right away as a dishwasher. That’s hard work. I remember telling my teacher how hard it was and she told me to be patient and something would come up and it did. When did you start baking? A few months later. I started helping Carol (Levalley, Rustic Bakery founder) with the baking on the weekends and one day she asked me if I was interested in learning how to bake croissants. Now, I make croissants, scones, muffins, focaccia rolls, different kinds of cookies and pies. Have any favorites? I love the blueberry oat scone and the chocolate raspberry croissant. What are your hours? Normally, I come at 5 and work 10 hours four days a week, but during October, November, December, I work around 12 hours a day, five or six days a week. Any pie-making secrets? For apple pie, peel the apples right before you use them and don’t soak them in water. Otherwise the pie will have a lot of water. The crust? After mixing, you want little chunky pieces of butter remaining in the dough. Don’t over-mix. Anything else? Flour the pan before you add the dough. Then the pie will slide out easily when you cut it. What do you like about your job? I love to make croissants. Making croissants makes me happy every day. Have you ever eaten a croissant in Paris? No, but I’d like to. Oh, one day. Maybe, you never know. Are you ready for the holidays? I think I am. I think so.

Miriam de Leon, bakery manager, Rustic Bakery, 1139 Magnolia Avenue, Larkspur,

Categories: On the Job, People+Places