Flour Power

Behind the scenes at three standout Plymouth bakeries

By Chelsea Harrington
Photography by Dan Cutrona

Whether churning out golden loaves of sourdough for Boston-area restaurants, producing picture-perfect cupcakes and cookies, or introducing tourists to colonial-style cornbread, a handful of Plymouth bakeries are out to satisfy just about any carb-o-licious craving you may have. Here’s a look behind the scenes at three local bakeries that rise above the rest.

History in the Baking

Located inside a charming, restored carriage house that houses Plimoth Plantation’s Craft Center, the Plimoth Bread Company entices visitors with the aroma of freshly baked colonial-style breads and other baked goods. The bakery has been a been a popular attraction ever since its opening in September of 2014 and produces such products as traditional cheate bread (a common 17th-century household bread), fresh cornbread (some filled with pumpkin or strawberry filling), Wampanoag ash cakes, as well as cookies, pies and biscuits.

Lead baker Tani Mauriello follows one traditional bread recipe that calls for ground cornmeal instead of wheat flour. The cornmeal is sourced directly from the Plimoth Grist Mill in downtown Plymouth, which uses water for power and grinds organic corn into fresh cornmeal using 200-year-old French Buhr millstones.

Mauriello is a historian with an impressive background in baking and a deep knowledge of 17th century baking methods, having earned her doctorate in the history of British food. While demonstrating the mixing and shaping of the dough, she describes the techniques used and the history behind the bread. Mauriello kneads the dough by hand, stretching and folding it to extend the rise time. The loaves are baked in the Craft Center’s wood-fired clay oven, which is designed to be very similar to the style of oven used by the Pilgrims.

“The Pilgrims made their ovens with layers of clay, sand and straw slathered into the shape of an igloo,” says Mauriello. “Ours is made of pre-shaped white clay bricks from France.” Before baking, a fire must burn inside the oven for two hours to get it up to temperature. The embers are then removed from the oven and the dough is placed inside. “The core of the Craft Center oven is surrounded by layers of insulation and bricks repurposed from the walls that were taken down during the Craft Center renovation, which better insulate our oven,” says Mauriello.
Samples of fresh bread are always available and boxed pies and bagged loaves are sold in the gift shop. “Our signature bread, Thirded Bread, is very popular,” says Mauriello. “It’s made of wheat, corn and rye, and it was a very novel food item when the Pilgrims devised it.”

The bakery hosts demonstrations, workshops and special events to expose members of the public to the historic breads. “Many of the spices that the colonists used are only used in our holiday food, but it gives people a food memory on which to hang this new flavor experience,” says Mauriello.

Rising Up the Ranks

Chances are, you have probably tasted the delicious breads crafted at Hearth Artisan Bread and you might not even know it. The bakery, which was established five years ago by Peter and Nicole Nyberg, occupies a space in Plymouth’s Camelot Park and supplies wholesale shipments of bread to restaurants all over Boston and the South Shore, including crafting artisan sandwich buns for Wahlburgers in Hingham and sliced sandwich bread for Bramhall’s Country Store in Plymouth.

The bakery has a loyal following of local retail customers as well, with lines that occasionally stretch out the door and loaves of bread that fly off shelves as fast as they can be filled. Inside the bakery, giant bags of flour are stacked against the walls and customers can watch Nyberg and the other bakers swiftly going about their duties, measuring and mixing ingredients and skillfully kneading dough by hand.

Prior to opening the bakery, Peter Nyberg worked in high-end restaurants and bakeries. He eventually came to the realization that, “Good bread is for everybody,” and decided to leave the corporate world to open his own bakery in Plymouth.

Hearth Artisan Bread produces an enchanting selection of bread flavors, ranging from cranberry-orange candied ginger to rustic rosemary, classic sourdough, a mouthwatering four cheese, six braid challah and many, many more. Nyberg takes great pains to produce the best tasting bread possible using only high quality ingredients. Nutrient-rich heritage grains are chosen specifically because of their openly pollinated, non-genetically engineered origins and grains are stone-milled into flour daily to retain the freshest flavor and nutritional benefits.

Despite the size of Nyberg’s massive oven, each batch of bread is kept small to ensure quality. Customers often bring home unsliced loaves, simply because the bread is so fresh that it is too hot to cut into.

About 95 percent of Hearth Artisan Bakery’s sales comes through its wholesale business, which recently inspired the owners to purchase a new warehouse space across the street from the bakery where the baking for all wholesale orders will now be done. Nyberg seems to have no plans of slowing down either, saying that we might even see a café open in the future.

The Sweetest Things

Guilty Bakery is conveniently located in downtown Plymouth, which is great news for anyone who is a fan of their salted caramel cupcakes or fabulous, freshly made doughnuts. Owners Amy Dieso and Krista Malayter make all sorts of flavorful treats from scratch, including cakes and cookies in every shape, color and design. Whether it is a wedding, birthday or seasonal holiday, the two bakers have a knack for creating tasty treats that are almost too beautiful to eat—almost.

Dieso and Malayter previously worked at The Catered Affair and Flour Bakery in Boston before opening Guilty Bakery in Plymouth. Having the opportunity to work alongside other successful women in the industry inspired their own pursuits.

“Owning a business and being moms has its challenges, but working with successful women like Joanne Chang at Flour Bakery and Holly Safford at The Catered Affair, who have built their companies from the ground up, gave us the confidence to know we could do it too,” says Dieso.

Experimenting with new flavors is a daily activity at Guilty Bakery, which seeks to satisfy cravings of all kinds with its decadent whoopie pies, scrumptious brownies, heavenly French macarons and custom cakes. Dieso and Malayter never back down from a decorating challenge either, crafting cakes shaped like Spider-Man, to penguin cookies and all sorts of three-dimensional animals and shapes out of fondant.

The bakery’s miniature cupcakes have become especially popular as they offer the perfect amount of sweetness and homemade doughnuts can be found in the shop every weekend, drawing in a steady stream of regular customers and passersby who are attracted by their indulgent scent. Glazed doughnuts are a staple and there’s a rotation of sweet variations like chocolate frosted, lemon raspberry, maple bacon, coffee cake, s’mores, brownie, coffee Oreo, chocolate peanut butter, and even pumpkin and apple cider.

With all these temptations to choose from, the bakery slogan reminds customers, “sometimes it’s ok to be guilty.”

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