These dishpan hands put icing on the cake



Rose Lansing

Baker and proprietor of Rose's Cookies in Hampden

Age --51

Years on the job --11

Salary --$250 a week

On her dream --She opened her own shop first in 2003, then had to move in 2004. "Finding a commercial kitchen is an impossible task in this city. If I won the lottery, I'd buy a warehouse and create little kitchen cubicles for bakers like me to rent. You can't make a raw space into a kitchen. Equipment, plumbing, gas lines, zoning, health department regulations are challenges. Anyone starting a restaurant deserves to succeed."

On working for yourself --She finds it mostly positive, but there are drawbacks. "I don't have to follow someone else's schedule. All those years being a waitress, evening hours were my most productive. But it gets kind of lonely since my kitchen is so small, no one else can work with me."

Training --In her shop, there is a 1920 photograph of her grandfather in one of his Pittsburgh bakeries. "I'm home-schooled. We grew up baking. I always baked birthday cakes and batches of cookies for friends."

Typical day --Mornings are set aside for shopping, planning and bakery errands. Afternoons are for personal errands. "At 4 p.m. I start serious baking and I bake until I am finished. I am usually home before midnight."

The good --"I love when people tell me they like what I make." And her favorite thing to bake? "Cakes and cookies because they smell so good."

The bad --"Having a permanent case of dishpan hands. Every day, when the baking is done, I still have to mop." And her least favorite thing to bake? "Sheet cakes and French pastry because I just don't do them. Other people do them very well."

Her baking secret --She never cheats on quality. "Everything goes out less than 24 hours after it's baked. I never freeze cakes. I'm sure I could make a fortune if I used box mixes and froze dozens of goods, but I believe fresh is best."

Philosophy on the job --"You never open a bakery or a restaurant alone. You always have others' examples."

Eden Unger Bowditch, Special to The Sun

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