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How These Married Bakers Reinvented the Rolling Pin

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Photo by James Ransom

It's a baker's nightmare: uneven dough, with thin spots galore. But how to wake from this recurring bad dream? Well, a solution has come to us straight from Chicago: the Lovely Baking Rolling Pin, named for its origins at the city's Lovely Bake Shop. Read on to learn the tale of Gina and Bob Hartwig, Lovely's then-owners, who decided enough was enough and sought out a rolling pin that could quickly, easily, and evenly spread their dough.

Gina's and Bob's story is the oldest one in the book: meet, fall in love, get married, start a bakery together. (Okay, maybe that last part's a little new.) The Hartwigs worked open-to-close, seven days a week, eventually achieving enough success that they could hire employees. But one problem kept arising—making sure this new crop of employees could all roll out dough evenly for pastries. And so the Lovely Baking Rolling Pin was born.

The Hartwigs had a prototype rolling pin made with handles just slightly wider than the main body of the pin, meaning that any dough rolled would be rolled to the same precise measurement—1/4 or 1/8 of an inch. The pin's two-foot length meant large batches could be rolled all at once.

When the pin was deployed, the improvement was immediate. "Employees were instantly more efficient, and lost a lot less product," Bob notes. It was perfect for shortbread, sugar cookies, pie crusts, fondant... nearly everything the shop made.

Photos by Ty Mecham, Ty Mecham

The rolling pin was so popular, in fact, that word about it began to spread, and it wasn't long before the folks at JK Adams, a family-owned business from Vermont, finally heard about it. Jon Blatchford, the CEO, explains that they instantly saw the cleverness and usefulness of the Lovely Pin: "Bakers immediately got it." With the Hartwigs' help, they rapidly developed their own version, using maple wood for strength and durability, and coating it with a nonstick wax finish to leave all the dough on the table.

Gina and Bob loved this enhanced take on their pin—"we bought a set for every employee," Bob says—and found that it even made for a popular gift. Adds Bob: "From kids to seniors, it has a simplicity of use that everyone appreciates." What a lovely ending, indeed.

Lovely Baking Rolling Pin Set
Lovely Baking Rolling Pin Set

What large-scale or precision baking projects would you use a pin like this for? Let us know!

Tags: Bake, The Shop, Interviews