1. 4:36 a.m.
Cronuts in various stages. Ansel arrives for work every morning at 4 a.m., but his kitchen is so small (and demand so high) that his ovens are burning 24/7. The bakery sells 350 Cronuts every day, and each batch takes three days to create. One day is set aside to make the dough, one day to cut and shape, and the final day to proof, fry, and fill.
3. 4:40 a.m.
By now Ansel has fried up a few dozen Cronuts, while other bakers mold DKAs (Ansel’s signature caramelized croissants) for baking. On a daily basis, Ansel devotes two hours (if not more) to frying Cronuts right before the bakery opens.
6. 4:45 a.m.
DKAs (Dominique’s Kouign Amann) are ready to go in the oven.
7. 4:53 a.m.
Ansel spent the majority of the morning unmolding DKAs fresh from the oven. The bakery sells at least 500 of these caramelized croissants a day.
10. 5:22 a.m.
The rest of the pastries (croissants, canelés and tarte tatins), which were baked even earlier this morning, are accounted for and loaded onto a speed rack.
13. 5:40 a.m.
The day’s to-do list is almost complete and it’s not even 6 a.m.
14. 5:45 a.m.
Final touches on the tarte tatins.
15. 6:07 a.m.
Several special pumpkin spice Cronuts are loaded up, created as a fundraiser for God’s Love We Deliver.
16. 6:30 a.m.
The line outside is already several parties long; the first man in line has been waiting since before 4:30 a.m. The bakery will open at 8 a.m.
17. 6:17 a.m
Ansel makes fresh madeleines while the staff fixes up hot chocolate. Both get delivered to those bundled up outside in the cold.
21. 6:46 a.m.
The bakery is bustling as the team finalizes prep before opening. More bakers head in to clean, assemble, and organize, ducking under each other’s arms and keeping tabs on the oven. They still have 1 hour and 15 minutes to go before the door opens.
“There’s a difference between being a chef and being a business owner,” Ansel says. “When it’s your business, everything from hiring people to menu changes to printers being set up, computers, fridges, copy machines, it’s all you. No one else will do it for you.” So on any given day, you might just find him changing a lightbulb or fixing some plumbing issue, in-between paperwork, cleaning, phone calls and yes, coming up with the next Cronut. “I’ve done plumbing and electricity,” he says. “It’s part of the business. When you’re a small business owner, you’re not going to hire a company to fix what you can do.”
This post originally appeared on Edible Manhattan.