Q: When did you start baking at Sugar in West Roxbury?
Bruno: I came in September of 2011. I actually worked here once before, when Sugar first opened. I helped out for about six months and then moved to St. John’s. Eric Battite, the owner, and I stayed in touch and here I am again. It’s great to be back.
Q: What kinds of baking did you do before coming to Sugar?
Bruno: I worked at Vicki Lee Boyajian’s in Needham for 20 years making European-style pastries.
Q: How did you get your start in the baking world?
Bruno: I started baking with my mother when I was 5-years-old. We made cakes, brownies and cookies together. From then on, I knew baking was for me. I went to Massasoit Community College and majored in culinary arts and interned as a pastry chef at the Hilton in Dedham. That was my real start in the professional baking world.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced at Sugar?
Bruno: The hardest thing I have encountered is getting used to the products we sell here. With 20 years in European baked goods, baking Italian-American pastries and cakes takes some adjusting to. There are different techniques in play, different ingredients. It is a change I’m rapidly getting used to.
Q: What part of the baking process do you enjoy most?
Bruno: Many of our products start in the larger Sugar kitchen in Roslindale, so I’m really more of a finisher than a baker at this location. The Roslindale team delivers bread, cookie dough other products to me twice daily. My favorite is custom decorating our cakes and providing customers with a beautiful finished product. I especially love working in chocolate and making freehand chocolate decorations.
Q: Do you see more custom orders or walk-ins?
Bruno: Surprisingly, I see more walk-ins. This always surprises me, especially with cakes. But we roll with it. We have great customers here.
Q: What changes have you made in West Roxbury since arriving?
Bruno: You won’t see any plastic decorations on top of our cakes or cupcakes. I use crystallized sugars, chocolate, fondant, and other edible décor, but no plastic. I’ve also introduced some new cookie flavors, squares, mini tarts, scones, tea cakes and crisps. People seem to really like to apple-cranberry crisp and the individual tarts. The gingersnap and peanut butter cookies and pecan squares are also very popular.
Q: What is the biggest seller here in West Roxbury?
Bruno: The brambles. Something about the sugar-dusted dough and just the right amount of filling makes them really special. They go back to the days when this place was Hanley’s Bakery. I remember eating them here as a kid myself. People just love them.
Q: What is your personal favorite?
Bruno: Funny enough, I don’t really have a sweet tooth. I love making things that look beautiful and taste good, but I don’t really eat many sweets myself. Well, actually I do love the lobster tail. That would be my favorite. And I love our cappuccino and coffee.
Q: What is in store for 2012?
Bruno: I’ll be adding more new cookies and bars. We’re also going to debut a chocolate temperer soon, which will allow us to make chocolate-dipped items right in the window — chocolate dipped biscotti, cookies and such. I’m also aiming for more consistency in the two stores. Right now we carry items that Roslindale does not. I’d like for people to be able to get the same items in both locations. Once we know which of the new items are working well, I hope both bakeries will carry them. All in good time.