Claflin Bakery Satisfies Wellesley’s Sweet Tooth

Manager Lori Davidson and baker Jesus Reyes prepare cupcakes for the oven
July 12, 2018

To enjoy the soothing aroma of freshly baked bread, cookies, muffins, and other delights, just stroll to the rear of Claflin Hall to the home of Wellesley’s on-campus Claflin Bakery.

Though it’s located on the basement level of a college dorm, Claflin has the look and feel of a conventional bakery. Inside, you might see shiny metal trays layered with chocolate brownies, cupcakes, blueberry turnovers, and pastries.  

You might also see Jesus Reyes, a baker, running a mixer to stir cupcake batter in an 80-quart metal bowl. At the large oven in the corner, you’re likely to find Lori Davidson, Claflin Bakery manager, pulling out a metal sheet covered with warm chocolate chip cookies.

The oven is the largest piece of equipment in the bakery, and it is almost always operating, Davidson said. With its five shelves, it has the capacity to bake 45 dozen cookies at once, which is a good thing given the Wellesley community’s appetite for cookies.

“Cookies and brownies are the favorites,” said Davidson, wiping a smudge of flour from her apron. Davidson, who studied baking and pastry arts at Johnson and Wales University, said she and her team of seven bakers turn out about 110 dozen cookies and 1,000 brownies a day.  

In addition to those ever-popular treats, Davidson and her team create whoopee pies, scones, breakfast pastries, croissants, and parfaits. Their work begins at 5 am with basic duties like preparing the day’s batter and ingredients. Davidson consults a list of orders she has to fill each day, which changes according to the time of year. “We try to be nimble with what we prepare so that we can adjust to the seasons,” she said. “For instance, we roll out heavier, comfort food-type items like chocolate and bread pudding in the fall and winter. In the spring, when we get temperatures in the 70s and 80s, students want something lighter, so we switch up with fruit-based selections like parfaits, strawberry shortcakes, or lemon cookies. Nobody wants to eat bread pudding in April.”

Three times a day during the school year, the bakery dispatches a white truck loaded with goods to four Wellesley dining halls. (Pomeroy Hall, which has a kosher menu, doesn’t receive desserts from Claflin Bakery.) In addition to providing baked goods for the dining halls, the Claflin Bakery also sells its treats around campus, making deliveries twice a day to The Emporium, Collins Café, and The Leaky Beaker inside the Science Center.

Though students are its largest customer base, Davidson said the bakery also serves many faculty and staff members who special-order items for internal meetings. And special orders for a variety of occasions often come from students or their families, who frequently order birthday cakes, for example.

Claflin’s reputation has spread, said Davidson, and customers outside the College can place orders for cakes, cupcakes, and cookies online. “People hear about us through word of mouth,” she said. “We have reasonable prices, and we’re as good as any bakery you’d find off campus.”

Photo Caption: Manager Lori Davidson and baker Jesus Reyes prepare cupcakes for the oven at Wellesley College’s Claflin Bakery on July 10.