Galina Laffer had a difficult upbringing. Born into a Jewish family living in Ukraine when it was still a part of the Soviet Union, she baked with her grandmothers to forget about her hardships for a while. As a child, she wrote down these recipes, and when she was 19 and received a visitor visa to come to the United States, leaving her family behind, she brought a notebook of these recipes.
“That little notebook was my only connection to that inner sense of love, joy, comfort and family,” she says.
Now baking to remember her family, Laffer had a fortuitous meeting in Boston, Massachusetts. One day, she walked into a bakery called Rosie’s Bakery (Rosie was the name of one of her grandmothers), which at the time was owned by Judy Rosenberg, who also came from an Eastern European Jewish family. Their baking styles aligned, which appealed to Laffer. While Rosie’s had a smaller focus on retail baking, which it did quite well with, Laffer eventually bought the bakery and turned it more towards wholesale.
She initially created four cookie flavors (chocolate chip, M&M, oatmeal raisin with coconut, and snickerdoodle) that sold at wholesale. These baked goods not only recreate the same unconditional love she experienced while baking with her grandmothers, but they carry on both their and the previous bakery owners’ legacies. In addition to cookies, Rosie’s Bakery also offers cakes, cupcakes, pies, tarts, brownies and bars.
The Sosland Publishing family first had the fortune of meeting Galina Laffer during the most recent International Baking Industry Exposition (IBIE), which took place in September of 2022 in Las Vegas. She was making her first visit to IBIE, looking to learn more from equipment and ingredients suppliers, including Ardent Mills, which provides her flour.
Rosie’s Bakery has plans to greatly expand distribution. In October of 2022, the bakery had several distributors and its cookies could be found in hundreds of grocery stores, and it shows no signs of slowing down.
“I think what made this really successful is the authenticity of the product. It was truly the highest quality ingredients that are on the wholesale market,” Laffer says. “It sort of feels like a grandma’s cookie. I distribute frozen cookie dough and they bake it on-site at the in-store bakery. Having a fresh product with that level of authenticity of vanilla, raisins, chocolate, butter and so on, it was very refreshing for customers, plus they could relate to the story.”
With many cookie bakeries making their name on variety and unique flavors, Rosie’s looks to appeal to consumers who want something simpler and more nostalgic.
Laffer still has family in Ukraine, and she works towards bringing them to America with the money she makes from her baking. She recounts the horrible stories of war that they face, things that are on her mind every day as she goes about her life as a bakery owner and single mother.
“Gratitude, inner love for yourself and memories of your childhood is what makes you a good human, and I wake up with gratitude every morning,” she says about what is happening in that country and what her and others can take away from it.
She looks to bring that gratitude and appreciation for life to as many people as possible through her work.