By Nancy Brumback
Worcester – In 1960, John F. Kennedy was elected president, defeating
Richard Nixon after the first televised debates. Elvis Presley finished his stint in the Army; Chubby Checker made “The Twist” a hit; and Ted Williams hit his final home run.
And in Worcester, a transplanted Swede, Ake Lundstrom, opened a bakery on Gold Star Boulevard.
After 51 years, Crown Bakery is still in the same spot, in the building whose outlines echo the look of the late 1950s, delighting customers with Swedish pastries and European cakes and desserts. And it is still turning out wonderful cakes for weddings, birthdays and any other special occasion.
Jon Lundstrom, Ake's son, has been running the business since 1994, and about 10 years ago added a café with freshly-made breakfast and lunch sandwiches, soups and salads. Customers can order to go, or eat at tables in the bakery or on the outside covered patio.
Crown Bakery's main business, however, remains being a full retail bakery, with everything made fresh from scratch. The choices include about 10 types of bread, breakfast Danish pastries, Swedish buns, cookies, petit fours and Swedish coffee rings, a house specialty.
Crown's wedding cakes are famous in the area.
Jon noted that wedding cakes today tend to have “rolled fondant” icing, with the fondant creating a smooth base for elaborate decorations that can include remarkably realistic flowers that look more like silk flowers than the frosting roses that used to decorate cakes.
“The brides today are influenced by what they see on the web and the food channels,” he said. Often they will opt for fresh flowers instead of fondant ones on their cakes, with Jon adding blossoms from the florist the day of the wedding.
Crown will work with brides and their mothers to create the cake of their dreams, starting with a photo album of options, matching colors to the wedding theme, and offering tastes of the cakes available.
“One of our most popular wedding cakes is our “rainbow cake,” with multicolored layers of sponge cake and buttercream. We have been making that since the 1960s, and no one else makes it,” Jon said. He also noted that Crown's wedding cakes are competitively priced at about $2.65 per slice.
Crown's other specialty is its Swedish pastries such as the coffee rings, cardamom buns and mazarins, an almond-flavored treat popular everywhere in Sweden. “No one around here makes these pastries. We'se created our own niche,” he said.
People on a gluten-free diet can still find some goodies at Crown as well, including jelly rolls. “In fact, our rainbow wedding cake is also gluten-free because it's made with the same sponge cake as the jelly rolls,” Jon said.
The bright bakery, with natural light flooding in through large windows, is painted in the royal blue and yellow colors of Sweden, and cases are filled with tempting goodies. On the right are over a dozen types of cookies, beautifully decorated petit fours, and miniature pastries. A variety of special-occasion cakes fills another case, some with space left to personalize the cake. There are also cheesecakes and whipped-cream-coated confections topped with fresh berries. Fresh breads and rolls, including salt-free bread, line shelves behind the counter.
The array of breakfast pastries begins to show some empty spots by lunchtime, after the morning rush. But there are fancy desserts to choose from, including cannolis, chocolate mousse cake, cream puffs, crème brulee and many, many more.
At the café counter on the left, fresh sandwiches, wraps and grilled paninis are available, along with a daily calzone, soups and salads.
The Crown Bakery & Café is located at 133 Gold Star Blvd. (Route 12) in Worcester. It's open from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and is closed Sundays. You can take a look at some of the cake options on the website, www.thecrownbakery.com, or call 508-852-0746 to discuss an order.