Running a bakery is a long and exhausting process.
For the Fluffy Duck Cafe, located across from the Cleveland Clinic, cooking begins daily at 2:30 a.m. The Fluffy Duck employs three people, including the owner. This includes arriving on working hours before sunrise to begin making the variety of breads, pastries and special orders that the Fluffy Duck prepares daily.
“On a good day, I leave around 6 pm,” said Ben Woods, owner of Fluffy Duck Cafe.
“I don’t think I ever saw you go by then,” replied Ange Lupica, Salt’s pastry chef and part-time baker at Fluffy Duck.
“Today it’s going to happen,” Woods replied. “I have a warrant from a friend who runs a bar.
The first thing to hit the slab are the croissants, which take three days from the initial mixing of the dough to turn into flaky, delicious pastries that are ultimately sold. The manufacturing process is quite intensive, which is why they are the last thing we work on every night.
The first day is to make the dough and let it cool. The second day is spent ‘locking in’ the butter, which, in the case of the Fluffy Duck, is a high fat butter imported from Europe that is folded into the dough over and over again until there is dozens of layers of dough and butter stacked on top of each other. Then the dough is shaped and kept frozen in a chamber freezer set at minus 5 degrees until ready to bake.
Woods has been baking professionally since 2006, when he graduated from Culinary Institute of America in New York City. Since then his career has spanned continents: he made stops in Portland, Oregon, Georgia and England, before returning to Cleveland and riding the Fluffy Duck, which opened two years ago. years this month.
His 12 years in the industry are reflected in his bakery. The Fluffy Duck makes everything from scratch, going through 300 pounds of flour every week, producing everything from wholesale buns to Cleveland area restaurants to Kouign-Amann, a hard-to-find multi-layered pastry shop.
“[The Kouign-Amann] That’s why I got a job here, ”Lupica said, spraying egg wash on a batch of buns. “I walked in and tried one and knew I wanted to find a job here, so I kept bothering Ben until he called me over.”
For his part, Woods seems excited about his addition.
“It’s kind of the same everyday here,” said Wood. “Waking up, baking croissants, feeding the appetizer, etc. With Ange here, it’s more exciting.
Lupica said she came to learn more about baking bread, which is perhaps the best thing the Fluffy Duck produces. They have a variety of breads and different flavors, including sourdough made from an entrance older than the restaurant itself, and most of their current income comes from wholesale. Their brioche buns are the current bestseller, with over 1,500 buns sold per week, but Woods hopes that in the long term they can move away from wholesale.
The Fluffy Duck hopes to benefit from the increased foot traffic that the completed Cleveland Clinic Medical School building is expected to provide. Despite this new development, Woods has some concerns about the local food market.
“It’s a lot of work and it makes very little money,” said Woods. “Right now we’re just holding out until they’ve finished the hospital across the street, and then hopefully we can rely more on foot traffic.”
The big vision, once foot traffic appears, is for The Fluffy Duck to expand, open satellite stores, and distribute its products across Cleveland, hopefully tapping into the wealthier markets of Brook Park and Westlake, Ohio.
Right now the Fluffy Duck is a bit stuck and Woods is just trying to get the machine working. That day, a day he felt was light enough to possibly take time off work when it closed, he had two hours to complete two special orders and make a few deliveries, after which he planned to visit a few bars. .
“You don’t get a lot of sleep,” Woods said. “But you don’t want to just go straight home from work. You also need to relax and have fun.