In every land where Easter is observed, the holiday is celebrated with sweets. Here in the United States, chocolate bunnies and eggs are the most common confections, but most other traditions focus on cakes, tarts and sweet breads.
Many Easter recipes make liberal use of eggs, a traditional symbol of spring. Nowadays, we have eggs year-round, but in preindustrial societies, eggs were scarce during the short days of winter. Hens need a certain amount of daylight to lay, and before electrical lights, they didn’t start to lay until the days began to lengthen.
Americans honor eggs too, of course. But ours tend to be molded from chocolate.
Here are six Long Island bakeries that sell an international array of Easter treats.
Tilda's Bake Shop
Tilda's Bake Shop (640 Rte. 25A, Rocky Point): Tilda’s opened in 1955 and since 1980 has been owned by baker Eddie Maher. Years ago, Maher adapted a bread he saw at Weber’s bakery in Chicago for a multicolored braided loaf, whose buttery dough is close to brioche. The dough strands in Tilda’s so-called Easter bread are colored purple, pink and yellow, pretty enough from the outside, but slice into it and it’s a pastel dream. Tilda’s is also one of a very few local bakeries that makes lamb cakes, baked in timeworn pans and decorated with coconut “wool” and ganache ears. More info: 631-744-3762, tildas.com
Easter bread at Tilda's Bake Shop in Rocky Point.
VIP Cafe & Bakery
VIP Cafe & Bakery (174 Post Ave., Westbury):In the heart of Westbury, Kenol LeBlanc’s 7-month-old bakery offers a mix of American and Haitian baked goods. For Easter, LeBlanc said, many of his Haitian customers order pen patat, a traditional dessert made from batata (white sweet potato) that also contains ginger, coconut milk and cinnamon. It’s a rather unprepossessing sheet confection, with a texture between flan and cake. Another popular Easter order at VIP is pineapple upside-down cake, made with fresh pineapple, rum and lime zest. It’s best eaten within a day of being baked and must be ordered a day ahead. More info: 516-279-4304, eatvipbakery.com
Pen patat at VIP Cafe & Bakery in Westbury.
Angela's Bakery (181 Glen St., Glen Cove): Italy’s Easter pastries are probably the most ubiquitous on Long Island, where you are never more than a short drive from an Italian bakery. Angela’s, which opened last year in Glen Cove, hews closely to old country traditions; baker Pier Dario Carosi was born, raised and trained in Rome. Here, you’ll find pastiera, the distinctive tart that contains custard and wheat berries, as well as colomba di Pasqua, a vernal cousin to panettone. It’s an eggy yeast bread baked in the stylized form of a dove, another paschal symbol. More info: 516-801-4433
Pastiera at Angela's Bakery in Glen Cove.
Bakers of All Nations
Bakers of all Nations (54 E. Jericho Tpke., Mineola): At this 30-year-old Portuguese bakery in Mineola, Easter means folar da pascoa, an egg-rich yeast bread flavored with cinnamon and a soupçon of Portugal’s most famous wine, Port. Owners Paula Rego and John Malheiro (the head baker) also make sure they have on hand plenty of does de pascoa (Easter sweets), individual pastries with a variety of fillings such as orange-pineapple marmalade, chocolate and sprinkles.More info: 516-294-4034, bakersofallnations.com
Does de pascoa at Bakers of all Nations in Mineola.
Riesterer's (282 Hempstead Ave., West Hempstead): Riesterer’s was founded by a German baker, and while Christmas brings a raft of traditional German Christmas cookies, for Easter his creations have no particular provenance besides his imagination and research. His Danish rabbit is just that: a rabbit fashioned out of flaky Danish dough. It’s about 10 inches long, 5 inches high. It's offered with and without a hard-boiled egg lodged in its belly. Riesterer’s also makes lamb cakes. More info: 516-481-7636, rbakery.com
A lamb cake, made with pound cake, iced and covered with shredded coconut, is a popular Easter treat from Riesterer's in West Hempstead.