There’s never been a better time to be a baker without a bakery. Don’t look for these brave, new establishments on Main Street — they’re on Instagram or TikTok and, most likely, at Long Island farmers markets.
Farmers markets offer such “virtual bakeries” a low-investment retail presence, as well as the kind of market research (actually talking to your customers) that is critical to growing the business. With or without a farmers-market presence, social media confers an unparalleled new opportunity for advertising and marketing.
The third ingredient in this perfect confectionery storm is an e-commerce platform such as Square, which allows vendors to take credit cards, get orders through social media and to integrate fully inventory, shipping and delivery.
Some of Long Island’s best brick-and-mortar bakeries started virtually, among them Blacksmith’s Breads in Long Beach, Carissa’s in East Hampton, Duck Island Bread Company in Huntington and Hometown Bake Shop in Centerport. These nine bakeries look poised to follow in their footsteps.
Note: Many bakers only bring a selection of their full lines to the farmers markets; most of them accept custom and advance orders.
FIND AT: Port Jefferson farmers market on Sundays
FOLLOW: @flourbudbakery on Instagram
A graduate of the Suffolk County Community College culinary program in Riverhead, Cristina Tovar baked in two great East End kitchens, Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton and Carissa’s bakery in East Hampton before setting up her own business in 2020. Her wares are homey yet refined, and utilize as much local produce as is feasible — local sugar plums recently showed up in buttery little tartlets. Croissants (plain, almond, chocolate, ham-and-cheese, raspberry-hazelnut and more) are usually snapped up first, followed by sourdough loaves, ciabatta and focaccia, buttermilk biscuits, sweet and savory pies and crostatas, and an assortment of cookies such as almond cookies filled with raspberry preserves and knock-your-socks off rye-chocolate-toffee.
G & S Tiny Treats
FOLLOW: @gandstinytreats on Instagram
When it comes to cookies, Shinnell Constantine and Giovanna Santiago are bucking the current trend of huge, unconventional and mashed-up — a core of rainbow, say, surrounded by a mantle of pumpkin spice. Their company, G & S Tiny Treats, specializes in, well, tiny confections whose flavor components your grandmother would recognize: chocolate chip, vanilla, snickerdoodle. The two college friends, both amateur bakers, worked tirelessly to come up with a bite-sized sandwich cookie that was still plump and soft, the filling fluffy but stiff enough not to get squished. The business has two sales legs: Customers follow @gandstinytreats on Instagram and Facebook, and place orders through the website. The cookies can be picked up or delivered anywhere on Long Island. The Tiny Treats pop up at events — a car show in Baldwin, a Juneteenth celebration in Freeport — which are announced on social media.
FIND AT: Sang Lee Farms in Peconic on Thursdays; Lombardi’s Love Lane Market in Mattituck and Southold General on Saturdays
FOLLOW: @jamesport_sourdough on Instagram
In 2015, Ana Burcroff and Brett Koons were living in Seattle, where Burcroff was an Amazon executive. For her husband’s birthday, she gave the fledgling baker sourdough starter from the great Sea Wolf bakery. By the time the family moved back to New York in 2017, Koons had perfected his bread and was using it to curry favor with the parents of their young sons’ friends (sourdough for playdate). During the pandemic, the family moved to Jamesport and, with schools closed, the bread offered an even more vital entree to friendship. In 2021 they formally launched Jamesport Sourdough, selling bread from their porch. Now, the bread is available at select North Fork shops. While Koons still works full time, Burcroff has been drafted into service, and her schedule of mixing, proofing, shaping and baking is largely determined by her parenting tasks. The eponymous Jamesport sourdough is a classic — crunchy of crust with a crumb that is almost meaty in its moist, supple texture. Rich chocolate sourdough sometimes makes an appearance too.
FIND AT Glen Cove farmers market on Saturdays and Great Neck farmers market on Sundays
A high-pressure banking job and its attendant insomnia had John DellAquila waking up early and staying up late. And so, curious about traditional methods of making bread, he began his sourdough journey in 2007. Not only does his sourdough contain no commercial yeast, but he gets freshly milled, organic flour from upstate New York and, for specialty loaves, grinds his own einkorn (an ancient form of wheat), rye and purple barley. The “flagship” sourdough is hard to beat, but there’s stiff competition coming from the whole-wheat and multigrain sourdoughs and loaves punctuated with olives or cranberry and walnut.
FIND AT: Long Beach farmers market on Wednesdays and Saturdays, Babylon farmers market on select Sundays
FOLLOW: @patsbakehouseli on Instagram
Patrick O’Leary never felt that his career as a teacher allowed him to flex all his creative muscles. Confined to his home during the pandemic, he began selling brunch boxes which led to a savory path catering private events and a sweet path selling baked goods at the Long Beach farmers market. His hobby has now become his day (and night) job. O'Leary is a wizard with croissant dough, filling it with ham and cheese or spiraling it into pinwheels with celery-leaf pesto. Tender, square biscuits are sold either plain or topped with everything spice. There are lemon-sesame with Earl Gray frosting, vanilla plum cakes with lemon glaze and, on Wednesdays, Tuscan focaccia.
FIND AT: Huntington farmers market on alternate Sundays
FOLLOW: @sabinesugarqueen on Instagram
A hobbyist since childhood, Gerdts dove headfirst into professional baking when, in 2016, she volunteered to make her sister-in-law’s wedding cake. She spent months practicing and, having triumphed at the blessed event, never looked back. While working as a Soul Cycle instructor and restaurant pastry chef, she launched her own business making custom cakes and manning an instantly popular booth at the Huntington farmers market where her signature items include over-the-top pistachio-toffee-chocolate-chip cookies and a chocolate-chip banana bread that is both vegan and gluten free.
FIND AT: Long Beach farmers market on Saturdays and at NYU Langone Mineola farmers market on Wednesdays
FOLLOW: @scottssourdough on Instagram
Scott Knobler attributes baking career almost entirely to COVID-19. Laid off at the beginning of the pandemic, he moved from Astoria, Queens, to Long Beach. During those first dark months, he found himself craving the sourdough bread he used to buy at the Astoria bakery Phoenix Bakehouse. Having little else to do, he started trying to replicate it home. First building a local Long Beach following through Instagram, he debuted at the town’s farmers market last summer. Besides his signature country sourdough, he also sells an olive-oil-rich focaccia and, occasionally, a not-too-sweet Irish soda bread that, radically, is baked in a loaf pan.
Side Hustle Bread
FIND AT: Glen Cove and Eisenhower Park farmers markets on Saturdays, Great Neck farmers market on Sundays
FOLLOW: @sidehustlebread on Instagram
With a main gig in television and film production, “Side Hustle” struck Jim Serpico as the perfect name for his virtual bakery. Among his breads, the capo dei capi is the “all-day prosciutto ring,” whose dough is stuffed to capacity with prosciutto, soppressata, salami and provolone. Other over-the-top loaves include pepperoni twist, Cheddar-jalapeno sourdough, Kalamata olive bread and garlic-rosemary sourdough. You’ll also find semolina loaves, focaccia, challah and, for home bakers who want head start in the kitchen, par-baked sourdough and bagged pizza dough.
Three French Hens
FIND AT: Huntington farmers market on Sundays
FOLLOW: @threefrenchhensbakery on Instagram
Three French Hens is, in reality, the mother-daughter team of Lisa and Rebecca Martin. Lisa, the mother, brings decades of business experience to the logistics end of their business while Rebecca, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and an alum of Blondie’s in Centerport and Duck Island in Huntington, develops the recipes, does the social media and handles the more complicated bakes: yeast breads (such as the decadent chocolate babka and cinnamon rolls), pastry (her version of “"pop tarts"” made with pâte brisėe and homemade preserves). Lisa’s not-too-shabby skills shine in the strawberry-lemonade cookies (made with freeze-dried berries) and the bestselling vegan funfetti cookies, whose sprinkles are colored with natural dyes. The hens got their start making custom pies for Thanksgiving 2021 and have never looked back.