The Food Shop: ZuckerBaker's, 2845 Jersusalem Ave., Wantagh; 516-785-6900; zuckerbakers.com
To look at their product mix, you'd think that Evan Zucker and Don Bashkin, co-owners of ZuckerBaker's, were well into their golden years. Their 6-month-old kosher bakery carries a range of horns, babkas, meltaways and marble cakes that were enshrined in the confectionery pantheon when flourless chocolate torte was knee-high to a grasshopper.
In fact, brothers-in-law Zucker and Bashkin are both around 40; they just have old bakers' souls. Zucker learned the trade at Zomick's in Cedarhurst and Bruce's in Great Neck. Bashkin, a former mortgage broker, relies on decades of noshing.
Horns, for the uninitiated, are U-shaped cakes whose flaky layers are interspersed with apples, raspberries or, most famously, poppy seeds. Meltaways are like babkas -- light, round yeast cakes -- except with a creamy filling. Most of these unfrosted items sell for $8, another throwback. ZuckerBaker's makes scores of marble cakes, round layer cakes and loaf-style seven-layer cakes. Their traditional breads are particularly good. Rye bread -- made with a high proportion of rye flour and, thus, tangy of flavor and stout of texture -- comes in seeded, seedless, onion-topped and marble iterations ($3). The six-strand challahs ($4.50) are rich yet light. The onion pockets ($4.50 for six), topped and filled with sweet bits of onion, cry out to cradle a burger. (Which would not be a problem if you're kosher; everything at ZuckerBaker's is pareve.)
ZuckerBaker's has two kosher certifications, and keeps both prayer books and candles on hand for orthodox customers. Initially, the clientele was about 80 percent Jewish. "But now it's starting to balance out," he said. "Everyone likes a fresh, warm muffin in the morning."