Here at McConnell's, we are obsessive about how we make our ice cream.
We do it the hard way because it's the right way... which means we do it all from scratch.
And that's where Shannon comes in.
Along with our Head Baker/Pastry Chef, Jordan, our small-but-mighty Bake Room team is in the McC's kitchen every day, baking off hundreds of pounds of cookies for flavors like our new Cinnamon & Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, cooking down giant kettles full of jam for our Eureka Lemon & Marionberries, or dreaming up baked goods to work into upcoming flavors (spoiler alert... there's a brownie coming).
We had a chance to sneak into the Bake Room (there might have been some ulterior motives here) to talk to Shannon about her dreamy-sounding job, and how baking compares to CrossFit. We even managed to talk her into sharing her personal favorite Cinnamon Roll recipe. While she's not currently using it in the Bake Room at McConnell's, we're hoping our relentless nagging might inspire her to work it into the lineup soon.
1.) How and when did your interest in baking begin?
2.) How many cookies would you say you eat on a weekly basis?
Too many to count. Don’t tell my doctor...
3.) What’s your favorite part about being in the kitchen?
My favorite part about being in the kitchen is that I feel like I fit in right where I am supposed to be. I don’t feel like I am at work most of the time. I get to see a physical representation of my efforts put into action. And at the end of the day, I get to leave knowing that what I made is going to make someone else’s day more exciting.
4.) What are you currently listening to on your headphones while you bake?
On any given day, you can find me listening to a podcast about food (mostly the Bon Appétit Foodcast), the Fleetwood Mac radio playlist, or the Band CAMINO.
5.) Love. Is it really the secret ingredient? Do you think there’s an element of love involved in your baking?
I wish I could say, but that would be too top secret.
6.) After being in the kitchen all day, do you still feel the desire to bake or cook at home?
Strangely, yes! People ask me this all the time. It sounds obsessive to say it out loud, but I currently have a routine going where I make breakfast for myself and my husband every morning, prep what I can for dinner, leave for work, bake all day, listen to food podcasts while baking, and come home to make dinner. And occasionally I still feel like de-stressing with baking the occasional Tuesday night batch of cookies.
7.) What about the McC’s kitchen do you find unique or special?
The McC’s kitchen has a special place in my heart. There’s not another place that puts so much effort into doing things the way that people would hope that they would be done and we really do make everything from scratch with our own hands. What I think people don’t realize is that the McC’s kitchen does everything so differently from everyone else. When we say that something is “housemade” we actually made it in-house, from scratch, with ingredients that we sourced ourselves, and with a small group of people who really care about the quality of what we make.
8.) Do you ever sneak bites of cookie dough when no one’s looking?
Only when Sonia, our Quality Assurance Coordinator, isn’t looking. 🤫
9.) For many of us, if we worked in a bakery, our fat pants would turn into our regular pants. Do you have any tips for novice bakers on how to maintain their figures in this industry?
I think if you are in this line of work, it’s easier to stay fit than it would seem. I’m on my feet moving around, lifting 50 lb bags of flour, carrying sheet trays of cookies, chopping hundreds of pounds of inclusions, washing dozens of dishes anywhere from 8 to 10 hours a day (and occasionally making it to the gym). It’s a pretty active career choice, which really just balances out all the tasting that happens (mandatory or not). And let’s be honest, I need to have an active job working for an ice cream company; otherwise, I’d be screwed. But if I had to actually give advice, my general rule of thumb is to always eat real food. Or at least attempt to make everything you’re going to eat yourself. If you make cookies instead of buying them, you are going to add only the necessary ingredients, you probably won’t eat as much, and you get the satisfaction of making something yourself.
10.) Do you have a favorite recipe you could share with us?!
I do! It’s not something you can currently find at McConnell's, but it is a personal recipe that I have tweaked and perfected myself over the years.
makes about 16-20
3/4 cup warm water (90-105 degrees F)
2 and 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt (3 grams) (I like diamond crystal)
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup oil (I use avocado or a buttery olive oil)
4 and 1/2 to 5 cups (576-640 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (1 gram) (optional)