Carlo's Bakery has been selling baked goods for more than 100 years, and there's a reason for the store's long-standing success. The close-knit staff feels their patrons should be treated as an extension of their own families, and in exchange, the customers keep coming back again and again to see them. Of course, not many leave without purchasing a few pastries, cookies or cakes -- all original family recipes -- before saying goodbye.
Business has exploded since "Cake Boss" first hit the air, and the bakery's production numbers are staggering. Can you guess how many pies Carlo's makes in preparation for Thanksgiving or how many cupcakes they bake in a week? Have you ever wondered which of the bakery's pastries is the most popular, or how many different flavors of gourmet cupcakes are on the menu? The answers are sure to amaze you! Without further ado, here are 10 fun facts about Carlo's Bakery.
10: Carlo's Gives Away Bread
Each year on June 13, Carlo's Bakery donates bread to Hoboken's St. Francis Church in honor of St. Anthony.
For as long as the staff can remember, Carlo's Bakery has participated in this special mass held at St. Francis Church in Hoboken. Before the mass, St. Anthony bread -- a term used by Catholics to signify offerings to God through prayers for this patron saint -- is blessed. After the service, the loaves are offered to members of the congregation. Easter bread and soda bread (the only two kinds Carlo's Bakery sells) are donated for the feast of St. Anthony.
9: Customers Love Carlo's Thanksgiving Pies
A crew of less than 10 people at Carlo's Bakery makes up to 20,000 pies to sell for the Thanksgiving holiday every year.
Any member of Carlo's staff will tell you that the weeks before Thanksgiving and Christmas are their busiest times of the year. However, while many cakes and pastries are baked and delivered to customers during this period, pies are the most popular desserts purchased for Thanksgiving. Flavors include pumpkin, apple, cherry, peach and lemon -- and the best-selling is pecan.
Pies are one of the most time-consuming baked goods available at Carlo's; all are handmade and follow Buddy's father's original recipes. In the days leading up to Thanksgiving, a crew of five or more people work up to 12 hours per shift to prepare and bake thousands of the tasty desserts so they're ready in time for the annual American holiday.
8: Carlo's Most Popular Pastry Doesn't Feature Seafood
The most popular pastry sold at Carlo's Bakery is the lobster tail.
The lobster tail pastry -- named such because it's shaped like the crustacean's hindquarters -- is a flaky, crispy dessert filled with rich custard and whipped cream. But this popular pastry is very difficult to make. Rolled by hand and requiring the help of up to five workers, the dough must be stretched very thin to achieve the flaky texture the sweet treat is known for. It took Carlo's bakers many years to prefect the recipe through trial and error, but their hard work has paid off -- more than 6,000 lobster tail pastries are made every week to meet customer demand.
7: Carlo's Cookie Customers Don't Come for Chocolate Chips
The most popular kind of cookie sold at Carlo's is pignoli nut, and no, it doesn't contain any chocolate chips.
This traditional Italian cookie, made with sugar, almond flour, egg whites and pine nuts, is commonly described as an Italian version of macaroons. To make this soft and toasty treat, dough is laid on a layer of pignoli (pine) nuts and chilled overnight in a refrigerator so the nuts adhere to the dough. The following day, the cookie dough is rolled into individual balls and baked. The staff says the smell of pignoli nut cookies baking in the oven is delicious, and the taste is even better. This cookie is one of the bakery's staples, popular with old and new customers alike.
6: Brides Love Carlo's
On average, Carlo's Bakery makes 40 cakes a week during wedding season.
Due to their busy schedule during wedding season, Carlo's has several small teams in place to make the best cakes possible. A crew of about five people specializes in baking them, and another small group is responsible for the fillings -- which is arguably the more important job. Fillings often determine the height of the dessert, and the cake must be cut correctly for the filling to stay inside. Once the cakes are baked and filled, a talented team of decorators turn them into delicious pieces of art.
One of the most challenging wedding cakes the staff at Carlo's has ever had to bake was made to resemble the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It stood almost 6 feet tall and was made from close to 35 individual cakes of various sizes. Several dowels had to be cut at different heights to support the leaning structure, making it quite a feat to accomplish.
5: He's Also a Cupcake Boss
The staff at Carlo's Bakery sells 14 different flavors of cupcakes, and they typically make more than 6,000 of the tiny cakes per week. To accommodate orders during wedding season, Buddy's crew bakes up to 4,000 additional cupcakes a week for couples who are tying the knot. Red velvet is by far the most popular flavor, and the bakery often sells more than 1,000 of these miniature gourmet desserts each week on their own!
4: The Mousse is Always Popular
Chocolate mousse is the most requested layer cake flavor at Carlo's Bakery.
Chocolate mousse is a rich sweet that remains popular with customers due to its smooth, creamy taste. If you order mousse as layer flavor on your cake, chocolate ganache -- a mix of hot cream and chocolate -- is used to make a shiny, smooth glaze. This decadent dessert is a frequent choice with customers looking for unique birthday cakes and tasty baby shower-themed cakes.
3: Carlo's Has a Signature Cake
The cream puff is Carlo's signature cake.
Buddy's father came up with the recipe for this delicious dessert, made with Italian sponge cake. Similar to the American Neapolitan cake, a cream puff cake is typically dryer than other sponge cakes, so a liqueur must be added for moisture. We can't actually tell you the flavor -- as it's Carlo's secret ingredient -- but trust us; the result is one dessert you won't soon forget. Topped with a glaze, whipped cream and actual cream puffs, it's a tasty treat that always leaves customers coming back for more.
2: Wheat Pies are Popular Easter Desserts
The pastiera di grano wheat pie is Carlo's most popular Easter dessert.
It's very time-consuming to make due to its long preparation process, beginning with cooking shelled wheat down to an oatmeal consistency over many hours. Once it's been cooked, butter, salt and other key ingredients are added to the mixture. As a final step, eggs and ricotta cheese are used as a filling to complete this savory, natural and uniquely Italian treat.
1: There's More Than One Flavor of Biscotti
Carlo's Bakery stocks eight different kinds of biscotti.
Biscotti, a hard Italian cookie that's baked twice, is often flavored with nuts or anise (think mild licorice). Cut into individual slabs, they can be made even sweeter by dipping them in chocolate. Chocolate pistachio is often the most popular flavor with Carlo's customers, but other flavors include milk chocolate, anisette, vanilla pistachio, dark chocolate, vanilla hazelnut and almond chocolate pistachio with dried cherries. Like with all of their pastries, cakes and cookies, the staff at Carlo's takes pride in using the finest ingredients for biscotti, including nuts and dry sherry imported from Italy.
To find out more about Carlo's Bakery, follow the links on the next page.
Lots More Information
- 10 Tips from the Cake Boss on Making the Perfect Christmas Cookie
- Name That Pastry Quiz
- A Highlight from Cake Boss: The Stories and Recipes from Mia Famiglia
- Cake Boss: How to Make a Lobster Tail Pastry (Video)
- Cake Boss: Leaning, Lobsters and Lectures (Video)
More Great Links
- American Catholic. "What is St. Anthony Bread?" (Jan. 12, 2012) http://www.mericancatholic.org/features/anthony/Bread.asp
- Faugno, Joe. Head Baker of Carlo's Bakery. Personal interview. Jan. 11, 2012.
- New York Daily News. "For Italian bakers, Easter's grain pie is open to interpretation." Mar. 21, 2008. (Jan. 13, 2012) http://articles.nydailynews.com/2008-03-21/entertainment/17893387_1_wheat-berries-9-inch-pie-grano
- Pacheco, Natalie. Sales at Carlo's Bakery. Personal Interview. Jan. 19, 2012.
- Titus, Nicole. Marketing and Publicity for Carlo's Bakery. Personal Interview. Jan. 19, 2012.