A Day in the Life of a Milwaukee Baker

Meet Stephanie Shipley, co-owner of 9-year-old Amaranth Bakery & Cafe (3329 W. Lisbon Ave.), which is known for artisan breads and pastries made with organic flours.

Stephanie Shipley of Amaranth Bakery & Cafe. Photo by Adam Ryan Morris.
Stephanie Shipley and spouse/business partner David Boucher travel four times a year to Westport, N.Y., to fill their pickup truck with “tons” of flour from Champlain Valley Milling.

12:30-2:30 a.m.

(Arrival depends on what’s on the baking schedule): After lighting the first of three ovens, Shipley cuts and shapes the first batch of breads for the day. (They bake bread three times in the a.m.).

2:30-5:30 a.m.
“Pastry time” – shaping, rolling and proofing the croissants, kouign amann (a pastry from Brittany), brioche and others. Thursdays and Saturdays, Shipley makes a pastry called bostock (a brioche soaked in syrup, layered with marmalade and nut cream, and baked again).

5:30-6:30 a.m.
She is back to breads – baking her first batch and mixing ciabatta. On Friday and Saturday, bagel-making is added to the mix.

6:30-7 a.m.
Shipley finishes off the pastries, and fills and bakes tarts. “I’m hustling at this point!” she says.

6:45-7 a.m.
“Very last minute,” she’s putting together the scones. “It takes about seven minutes to do a batch.” If it’s also a turnover day, those pastries are being filled and baked.

7:15 a.m.
Pulls the soups (made the night before) out of the fridge, makes quiche, and does prep for the salads offered at lunchtime.

8-9 a.m.
Shipley shapes the ciabatta, if she doesn’t have an employee to help. (There are several who keep things moving – it’s a “constant collaboration,” she says) Braises meat, cuts greens and finishes off the soups. She might also be working on prepping ingredients for the next day’s breads.

9 a.m./9:30 a.m.
Starts mixing up more bread.

10:30/11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
Goes home to walk/run with her dogs, meditate and rest. Her sleep is “divided. The hardest adjustment is turning off my brain.”

3-6 p.m.
Returns to Amaranth to make soups, bake cookies, mix the doughs for galettes and croissants.

5:30-7 p.m.
Heads home.

The Epicure’s Guide to Milwaukee

This story is part of The Epicure’s Guide to Milwaukee feature in our March, 2015, issue. Click to read the rest of the guide.

The Epicure's Guide to Milwaukee

‘The Epicure’s Guide to Milwaukee’ is the cover story for the March, 2015, issue of Milwaukee Magazine.
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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.