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The bakers could be heard laughing and chattering from half a block away, and on some days there was music, either from the radio or a friend with a guitar. Every time I walked in there, for those few precious minutes, I was a tiny part of their family, I guess we all were in that neighbourhood.

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Bakers milled behind the counter: men, women, tall, short, fat, thin. What drew them together though wasn't only the tall hats and white uniforms, it was how they moved and smiled. None of them bore the corporate (almost ghoulish) grins of the other high street staff. These were people who loved working with food, who felt that more than selling their wares they were giving happiness over the counter and all of it smelled sublime. I guess that's what separates the bakers from those who can bake. It's the love, the pride, a passion to serve the best they can possibly make.

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The bakers were more brothers than any I knew. They had all the love, all the rivalry and the jokes only close people can dish out and take. In the early years there had been tension between the head chef and his first employee, but now those old reminiscences were more glue to hold them together. It wasn't that they never disagreed, at times they did so with so much flair you'd swear they had Italian blood, but like any relationship mellowed with age they bore no grudges. One floury slap on the shoulder and all was forgotten.

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To the bakers every detail mattered. Their craft was an edible art and into each piece was poured a little love. They rose early, often before the sun, to toil in the kitchens not yet heated by the wall of ovens. Dough was set and the hum of mixers filled the air along with the aroma of uncooked batter. Each baker moved more like a dancer in a choreographed performance, everyone knowing their role, everyone taking care of their tasks.

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... Bakers had never been so elevated, so sort after. It was the coronation and no respectable citizen could be without a celebratory gateaux. Indeed, there was pride to be taken in the elaborate icing and the height of the cake. There were a few local mothers who could rival the professionals, but everyone wanted one of the bakers to take their order. The queue snaked around the block from the bakery long before the staff arrived, every one the men and women with tight faces, eager to punish any who snuck in with their friends.

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Becoming a baker was the last thing on my mind, it was more something I fell into. Growing up in the home I did, surrounded by so many aunts who loved to bake, I guess the writing was on the wall. I just never saw it. So when I stumbled into that first job in the local bakery, in the days when it was dying instead of coming alive, it really was an accident of sorts. Baking was just a thing I knew how to do. In a few months the queues for our cakes and pastries was long no matter what the weather was. That's when Sam offered me a partnership, me, a kid without a dime to my name. He just laughed and said he had the dough but I knew how to put magic in it. We never looked back, us brothers a generation apart. Bakers In Arms was born...

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There was an intensity to the bakers that wasn't there just a few weeks earlier. The autumn was well worn and christmas coming. The closer the festive season drew the more the orders came. Each one of them worked with precision and delicacy. The usual banter of the quieter times was on pause, the only talk to ask another to taste test or give their professional opinion.

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The faint saccharine scent of vanilla and strawberries wafted under my nose, teasing me with promises of decadent desserts, palatable pastries and heavenly cakes that stood at nearly a meter, veiled with pale pink nets and decorated with red sugar roses. What captured my attention the most, however, was the lithe figure of the female baker working rigorously away. Her slender fingers delicately plotted and plucked, kneaded and pound and combined with a dash of sweat, she produced a masterpiece that flaunted its grandeur, beckoning people inside. At work, her face was powdered with flour, her hands sticky with dough and a cheeky grin tugging at her lips. Each day, as she sashayed out either for a drink or just to go home, she left a sweet-smelling mist in her wake.

By yumcandycaramel, June 3, 2014.
General

The bakers looked like a boy band on a vacation. They acted like it too, laughing, joking and singing as they made the bread and delicacies for the day. Their white uniforms masked any flour that dusted on them and only their hands had that obvious covering of dust. When the baking was mostly done a couple of them would open the doors, letting the aroma of the baking waft out to the street and the customers flood in.