Making dough by baking dough: junior Jacob Sands now part of family business

Trust me,” junior Jacob Sands says as he peeks into the oven.

“That’s not what Mom told me,” his sister Nicole says, leaning over him with her hand on her hips.

“I’m the one doing this every week,” Sands responds as he stands up and closes the oven.

The sweet smell of 12 loaves of banana nut bread baking spreads throughout the house.

Sands and his sister are working to finish the order they have to make this weekend to be sold in nine coffee shops, seven of which (called Java Detour) are owned by their father.

Sands has been providing the bread for four years now.

When Sands was in seventh grade, the banana bread provider for his dad’s coffee shops went out of business.

To teach his kids responsibility and as a way for them to make money, Sands’s father decided to have his children bake the bread he needed every Sunday.

“I’m his father, but I’m also a business person,” Ron, Sands’s father, said. “When he’s baking bread, he’s my employee, not my son.”

Now it’s become a home-run business.

Over the past four years the business has grown a lot. Initially they made four loaves of bread a week. This week’s order is 111 loaves of banana nut bread and lemon bread.

For an order of this size, Sands said he needs about 200 bananas, 270 eggs, 50 pounds of sugar and 50 pounds of flour.

Considering the quantities, it would be impractical to get their supplies from a regular store.

“So we have an egg guy and a banana guy,” Sands said.

They have a deal with Raley’s for the bananas; the store sets out two 40-pound boxes of bananas for them. But about once a month their “banana guy” fails to do his job.

When this happens, Sands wipes out the shelves of bananas at the grocery store.

“People (see all the bananas) and ask if we have pet monkeys,” Nicole says.

His father picks up non-perishables, like flour and sugar, from Restaurant Depot.

It’s noon, and Sands and Nicole have been at work since 8 a.m.

Now that the loaves are ready to bake, they’re bickering about how many to put in each row so that all bake evenly.

When Nicole moved to Truckee about two years ago, Sands took over the job, although his sister drives down to help him on weeks when he has a lot of homework.

With a set of 12 loaves in the oven, they have about 30 minutes of free time before preparing for the next batch.

Sands takes the opportunity to sit down for a few minutes since he has been on his feet all day.

He grabs his phone and scrolls through his text messages, leaning back in his chair.

Although banana bread is the only type made year round, Sands also bakes pumpkin bread for his father when it is in season. They recently added lemon bread as well.

For Sands, the convenient part of his job is that he gets paid as much as someone who works all week.

His father buys the bread for $9 per loaf, so Sands earns about $350 every weekend.

“Jake has really taken ownership of this as a business,” Ron said. “We get comments from customers and managers on how good the banana bread is.”

Glancing up at the clock on the microwave, Sands realizes it’s time to start again.

He dons his long black apron and slips into clear plastic gloves.

Stepping out of the pantry, he pours canola oil from a 35-gallon container into the bowl.

After all these years of baking, he says he can pretty much eyeball how much of each ingredient he needs.

Nicole starts pulling the loaves out of the oven as Sands adds walnuts and flour to the bowl and begins mixing.

Since they’ve been a team for so many years, they work like a well-oiled machine.

When they were younger, spending all day Sunday baking together led to a fair amount of arguing.

But since Nicole moved away, arguments have been replaced with good-natured banter.

“The worst part is that you have to stand for so long,” Sands says.

“Not if you’re like me and wake up at 7 in the morning,” Nicole says.

“That’s like school!” Sands responds.

“Jake likes to sleep,” Nicole says, rolling her eyes.

As Nicole pulls waxed-paper covered bread out of the pan, Sands pours the batter in.

Nearly all of the counter is lined with loaves of bread, and they aren’t close to being finished.

“We really need more counter space,” Sands says, as he pushes the loaves together trying to create more room.

“We have to wrap as we go,” Sands explains as he places a newly plastic-wrapped loaf in one of the dozens of paper bags littering the kitchen. “Or else we have to start putting (the loaves) on the chairs.”

“I once got yelled at when I did that,” Nicole says with a smile.

Since bread baking is a family business, the family has made adjustments to the kitchen.

As the number of orders increased, they invested in bigger bowls. Once, they had bigger bowls, the Sandses put in a new sink without a divider to accommodate them.

And with baking comes smoke. Because they’re spending 12 hours in the kitchen, the family invested in an oven with a fan and removed the kitchen smoke detector.

But the most exciting improvement for Jake and Nicole was what they call the electric “banana masher.”

Nicole recalls that when they started she was the one who had to mash the bananas by hand.

“I had some serious muscles, though,” Nicole jokes.

Now that the next batch of loaves is in the oven, they start washing the pans.

Both say that cleaning up is the worst part.

The crumbs from the edge of the pan are scattered all over the floor.

“And by the night of, it has to look like we never did it,” Sands adds.

“That’s why the maids come on Tuesday,” Nicole says.

“But we don’t give them much to clean,” Sands responds.

And while Sands and Nicole are baking, the rest of the household goes on with its routine.

“Everyone’s usually here on Sundays,” Sands said. “Dad’s working in his study. Mom is making dinner. The dogs are outside. The day still continues.”

Previously published in the print edition on April 28, 2015.

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