Emma D’Angelo has been Coffee & Cotton’s Head Baker since Sept 2021 and if you have tasted her creations, you understand why she was given carte blanche to create her edible masterpieces.
Emma’s love for food has been ingrained in her very being from a very young age. Her dad was and still is a part-owner of a restaurant with two locations and she remembers days in the restaurant squishing tomatoes with her hands to make tomato sauce and other days polishing the foot stools at the bar. Spending time in the kitchen with her first mentors, her grandmother and great grandmother, she knew she wanted to be a baker.
In 2015 she worked at the Town Market Andover in a front-of-the-house position, but she knew she wanted more. After expressing an interest in baking, Emma began her first professional foray into baking being mentored by the market’s head pastry chef and learning as much as she could about patisserie and petite pastries. From there she moved onto Area four in Cambridge where she baked for two years. There the menu options were different from the Market’s as everything was made from scratch. Baking English muffins, bagels and croissants helped her to realize that this type of baking was what she really wanted to do.
“I’ve been coming to the mill ever since it opened even before I started working there. I thought this place was amazing and I just kept going and when I saw that they were hiring I knew that I needed to apply. What kept me coming back was the shops and the atmosphere and the mill has a very strong spiritual feeling that you can’t avoid. Whenever someone would visit I would bring people there to experience it. It’s a fun place to be, it’s a good feeling to be there.”
This is Emma’s first Head Baker position but everything that people have taught her throughout the years and working hard with lots of trial and error at home has allowed her to be so successful in such a short amount of time. When she first applied for the open position of kitchen assistant it became evident to Brendan Pelly, Food and Beverage Director of Coffee and Cotton that she was well equipped to actually step into the role of head baker. In the beginning it was a challenge to have such creative freedom because she was used to working with other pastry chefs who told her what they would be baking daily. Having to figure out what the customers liked and being organized with her own space and time were learning curves that she has figured out over the past months.
The first thing Emma wanted to bring to the menu was fresh bagels. She likes a fluffier bagel over New York Style and she offers plain and everything. She bakes cookies and brownies, vegan muffins and crullers which are deep fried pâte à choux, similar to a French donut. She changes the flavor of her vegan muffin every two weeks to provide some variety and to experiment and test what the customers like. Emma doesn’t eat meat and she was Vegan for a very long time so she incorporates as many vegan things as she can without sacrificing taste. The café is not extremely busy during the week but most items sell out during open weekend hours, which is a great indication that she is in tune with what the customers like and want.
Being a full time baker doesn’t mean that her time in the Mill No. 5 kitchen ends when the ovens are turned off. “My brain never stops. If I have extra time I try to look up a bunch of different ideas that people might want. I can’t turn it off even at home. I test things out and am constantly making notes. Making sure everything is from scratch. That’s like my key thing. Making sure everything is made with love and scratch and there’s always a good feeling going into the food. That’s really important to me when I’m baking.”