Hidden Gem in Hardwick, MA
Population of Hardwick, MA is under 3,000, but it has a bakery and cafe that draws in customers from many miles away, Rose32. The owners began baking breads in the 1970s in San Francisco. After 4 decades of growing a 1 shop bakery into 4 retail stores, a distribution network both retail and wholesale, they sold the big business and moved to the hamlet of Gilbertville, a part of Hardwick.
After a year or so, they decided to become bakers once again and a lot of people are so glad they did. Next they needed to locate an outlet for the bakery so the search began. Finally they determined that the former service station that had served the community and travelers on Rt. 32 for many decades would make a grand bakery. It took nearly 1 1/2 years to renovate the service station into the beautiful bakery and cafe.
This past Saturday a friend and I went to Janine’s Frostee for their lobster roll and as we left, I decided that it would be a good time to try and locate Rose32. It is about a mile from where Rt. 9 and 32 intersect. The cafe has many outside table and inside there are a few large tables along with the bakery. They are open Wednesday through Sunday from early morning through mid-afternoon.
Begin with breakfast either scrambled eggs, an egg sandwich or a hash scramble with diced ham, potatoes and green onions topped with Cabot cheddar. Breakfast is served until 11 a.m., while lunch is served all day. You will need to get their early as the lines are long on weekends.
All breads and bakery items are made on the premises. The breads are made in small batches with only flour, water and salt. They have a bread called the Hardwick Loaf with wheat grown in Hardwick that is milled fresh at the bakery each day. They say it is amazing and the next time I am out that way I will definitely buy a loaf.
They also carry European-style butter or what is known as cultured butter. It is definitely more expensive than store bought butter, but true bakers use it when making pie crust and other layered baked goods such as scones and croissants. European butter is made more slowly which allows for a stronger flavor. The main difference between the butters is the fat content. European butter has a 83-86% fat content while non-cultured butter is about 81%. Butter with more fat has less water thereby creating a lighter pastry. It is not important when making cookies, bars or even brownies, but if you are making scones or kouign anam which have what is called a laminated dough you will want to use a European butter.
To the left is their pecan sweet roll and the kouign anam is to the right. I had never had or heard of the latter so a little research was necessary. Kouign anam ( (pronounced [,kwiɲˈamɑ̃nː]), is a little cake from the town of Douarnenez in Finistère, Brittany, where it originated around 1860. It is light and flaky due to the layers of butter and noted cookbook author David Lebovitz has a delicious recipe with great instructional pictures as to how to make this caramelized treat.
So go to Rose32 in Hardwick and enjoy the many delicious baked goods. It is a little gem in a small town in Central Mass.