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The lines begin forming outside B&W Bakery early these days with the thought of crumb cake tantalizing the patrons who brave the morning chill. The holidays have arrived in Bergen County and the scene outside the Hackensack institution is straight out of Norman Rockwell.
Bakeries evoke memories of a less complicated time and simpler things, particularly during the holidays. The smell of freshly baked bread, cake or cookies wafting through the air outside B&W and scores of other bakeries around Bergen County are part of what make this time of year special.
If you're looking for ethnic treats like challah and green tea cakes or more fancy desserts like Yule logs and stuffed bread, you can certainly find something to satisfy your palette in every corner of the county.
"The crumb cakes here are special" said current B&W manager and former owner Ute Gouenfelder. "It's a very thin bottom with lots of crumbs. It's a recipe that's been carried over from the first owner back in the 1940s. People line up outside the store before we open during the holidays, but we never sell out. Hundreds go every day but we keep baking them."
Teaneck's Butterflake Bakery, much like B&W, offers hundreds of treats at this time of year. This nationally known bakery, however, is known for its Suganiyot (jelly doughnuts) more than its crumb cake. It's a house specialty that has actually been featured on The History Channel.
If you're in Fair Lawn, however, and still have a hankering for an ethnic specialty, then Zadies Kosher Bake Shop is the place to stop. The challah at Zadies is known throughout northern New Jersey and is particularly popular this time of year. It comes in a variety of flavors from plain, sesame and poppy to whole wheat, raisin, chocolate and even marshmallow.
"Some people really like the marshmallow but my favorite is the plain," said Frank Alfano, who has worked at Zadies for the past five years. "It has nine different sections. You can pull it apart and it's easy to tear off for French toast. You dip it in some egg and cook it up and you have a nice little nugget of French toast."
Rispoli Pastry Shop in Ridgefield has been an integral part of the community since Gabriele Rispoli founded it in 1937. His granddaughter, Gabrielle Rispoli Puzzo, has been running the shop for the last 30 years and hasn't changed any of the old recipes. This holiday season means hundred of cannoli, wheat pies and lobster tails will be sold.
The wheat pies are a holiday tradition for a lot of people,' she said. "It's made of wheat and cheese and it is called Pastiere DiGranio. People usually have to order them and we only make them around the holidays. The lobster tails (a flaky, cream filled pastry) aren't exclusively a holiday special but we get swamped with orders for the holidays for these and for cannoli."
Residents of northern Bergen County are also fortunate to have several bakeries that provide some wonderful holiday fare. Wyckoff Bakery in Wyckoff, La Envie Rose in Waldwick and Bon Appetit in Mahwah are just a few of the bakeries that are a part of many family traditions. The holiday stollen (fruit bread) from Wyckoff is a must have for many. The German recipe allows for candied cherries, pineapple and almonds to be included in the dough. "We only have them for a limited time so they sell quickly," Wykoff Bakery's Cindy Williams said.
La Vie En Rose opened earlier this year and has already earned a reputation as the linzer tart champ of Bergen County, These tasty treats sell out so fast, patrons are encouraged to call ahead and place an order. The cream scones and orange cranberry scones at La Vie En Rose are also proving to have a big appeal this holiday season.
Bon Appetit will dazzle you with a wonderful array of french pastries, cakes and Yule logs. "We are the only place with these Yule logs in Bergen County so people come from all over," said owner Edward Lofty. "We have different sizes and flavors from chocolate mousse to raspberry mousse and hazelnut mousse. We sell out of them pretty quick but we always have extras on hand because it's a big Christmas hit." "Another holiday favorite is our pumpkin mousse tart"
There are plenty of options for unusual and unique treats as well. Fragale's Bakery in Garfield specializes in bread stuffed with sausage, broccoli or olives. It is also known for its rye, pumpernickel and raisin breads.
But a more exotic taste could lead you to Fort Lee's Sun Merry's Bakery, where traditional Taiwanese green tea cakes can be found. They are moist and filled with butter cream. One of Sun Merry's biggest sellers, though, is the strawberry shortcake. "A lot of bakeries have better decorations on their shortcake but I don't think they have better taste", said Sun Merry's Karla Juarez.
Finally, if you're looking for a bargain, then Palisades Park Bakery might be the place to visit. Leonia's Gayle Dottino has been going there since she was a little girl and still can't get enought. "The Palisades Park Bakery has all kinds of cakes, they are good and inexpenseive," she said. "You can get a holiday layer cake for under $10 and it's delicious. They are phenomenal. They will make anything you want. I love it"
Here's a sampling of Bergen County bakeries.
Amato Bread - The breads in this wonderful little place are spectactular.
202B Livingston Avenue, Northvale
B&W Bakery - The signature crumb cake is one of the finest in North Jersey.
614 Main Street, Hackensack
Balthazar's Bakery - The breads are among the best in the region and go to hotels, caterers and restaurants throughout the metropolitan area.
214 South Dean Street, Englewood
Bon Appetit - The Yule log is a holiday favorite that can't be matched in Bergen County.
180 Franklin Turnpike, Mahwah
Butterflake Bake Shop - This nationally known bakery has been featured on The History Channel for its delicious jelly doughnuts.
448 Cedar Lane, Teaneck
DePiero's Country Farm - This old fashioned farm grows much of its own fruit and produce for baking.
300 West Grand Avenue, Montvale
Fragale's Bakery - The stuffed breads - sausage, broccoli and olives to name a few - are tasty and mouth watering.
68 Gaston Avenue, Garfield
Gateaux Bakery and Cafe - The Swiss delicacies are incredible.
570 Piermont Road, Clsoter
La Promenade - These layer cakes are not to believed.
137 Piermont Road, Tenafly
La Vie En Rose - Meet the linzer tart champions of Bergen County.
10 West Prospect Street, Waldwick
Mazur's Bakery - Looking for Hungarian strudel or Italian pastries? You'll find it all here.
323 Ridge Road, Lyndhurst
Mills Bakery - Smiley face cookies and Boston cream doughnuts will bring you back time and time again.
275 Valley Road, Wood-Ridge
Palisades Park Bakery - The Boston creme pie earns Palisades Park Bakery rave reviews from all corners of the county.
325 Broad Avenue, Palisades
Rheinhold's Quality Bakery - You can't go wrong at Rheinhold's, especially if you opt for the salt sticks.
32 Franklin Turnpike, Waldwick
Rispoli Pastry Shop - The wheat pies and lobster tails make it worth the trip.
824 Broad Avenue, Ridgefield
Smiley Bakery - Oreo cake, black forest cake and brown derbies are just some of the incredible treats you'll find here.
247 Boulevard, Hasbrouck Heights
Sun Merry Bakery - Delicioius green tea cakes and mouth watering strawberry shortcake.
21151 Lemoine Avenue, Fort Lee
Tribeca Ovens - Taste each of the 36 Variety of artisan loaves and rolls.
447 Gotham Parkway, Carlstadt
Wyckoff Bakery - The Baklava Delight is, well, delightful.
Avenue, Wyckoff (201-891-4900)
Zadies Kosher Bake Shop - The challah comes in so many different varieties, you can't name them all.
1909 Fair Lawn Avenue, Fair Lawn