At Butternut Bakehouse, a former Rialto pastry chef gets up on her own

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I wonder if I should share a secret. This is the eternal dilemma of a food journalist: keep a discovery for yourself or publish it for all to see, risk endless queues and crush the crowds? Ethics must come first. I will reverse it.

A former baker for No. 9 Park, Rialto and UpStairs on the Square operates a scrumptious little bakery in the heart of Arlington Center — and, soon, Belmont — called Butternut Bakehouse. Suzana Samad sells morning rolls, honey-glazed cookies, croissants, galettes and all sorts of sugary carbs in a spare little storefront with no frills, no fanfare and (so far) a modest line-up of regulars neighborhood every morning.

Samad is from Malaysia. She came to Cornell University on a scholarship to study economics. She walked into the bank. And, as she puts it, “I didn’t really fit in.” So she did the logical thing: switched gears and enrolled in a baking school in New York. From there, she worked in various Boston restaurants until returning to Malaysia to run a pastry shop. Her family moved back to Arlington in 2014. As her children got older, she started cooking again.

Baked goods from Butternut Bakehouse.Handout

At first, she worked in her licensed home kitchen and sold croissants at farmers markets in Winchester and Wayland.

“It was kind of crazy, now that I think about it,” she says. “I woke up at 2 a.m., but the customers loved my croissants. I had no professional experience making them, but it was technically challenging and very rewarding when successful. People really responded to them. »

She opened her storefront in Arlington in 2019, and now she arrives at work at the slightly more civilized 4:30 a.m. hour. Despite COVID, business has boomed. After all, who can resist carbohydrates in times of crisis?

“It was definitely a blessing in some ways because people were mostly at home and wanted something comforting, and we could give it to them,” she says.

Morning rolls are the best seller. Imagine a more flaky cinnamon roll, made with croissant dough, sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and sliced ​​with orange sauce.

“It’s not my invention, but we execute it quite well,” she says.

She also likes the buttermilk biscuit, glazed with honey-salted butter. It’s a dense, layered web of buttery goodness, delicious with a smear of fruity jam.

I’m pretty salty, so I prefer the limited-edition tomato galette, made with antiques, piled on homemade pie crust spread with a layer of herb cream cheese and a ring of capers: c It’s juicy, salty and utterly satisfying, like eating sunshine on bread. And, for a bagel fix, try the all-croissant, rolled in herbed cream cheese and sprinkled with all-bagel seasoning.

“It’s my potato chip,” she says.

And, luckily for my cholesterol, they only come one per bag.

Butternut Bakery, 787 Massachusetts Ave., Arlington, 781-819-2899, www.butternutbakehouse.com


Kara Baskin can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @kcbaskin.

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