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Sweetie Pies: Long Island Bakeries Heat Up for Holiday Sugar Rush
The sweet, intoxicating aroma of pies and other heavenly treats inside Loafers Bakery greets the mom-and-pop’s chilly customers with a warm, sugary hug.
This old-fashioned Locust Valley bakery with country charm and cheery workers has been filling bellies with sweet delights for 27 years under its current ownership. The bakery has evolved from its humbling beginnings as a basic cheese and bread shop to become a bustling store that offers everything from salads and homemade soups to wraps and frozen dinners.
But it’s the pies, cakes, cookies, baked brie and delicious pastries—all homemade—that drive its customers wild.
And this is the season when everything comes to life inside the bakery.
Lauren Foley owns the shop with her brother and her parents—her father proud to be dubbed the administrator; her mother, especially cheerful in the face of a hot oven. The four of them are excited—and genuinely honored—that their sweet and floury creations will end up on hundreds, if not thousands, of dinner tables this holiday season.
Yet this time of year is “bitter sweet,” Foley admits. Orders need to be completed in a hurry and the shop will have to quickly transition for Christmas because Thanksgiving fell so late this year (Nov. 28). The tired staff will have to get right back to work.
“It’s great because you get a rush off of the work, and it’s great that you see all your stuff out there, and the people just absolutely love it, and they’re saying how great everything is, but it’s exhausting also,” she says.
The pies are the one constant.
Pies are by far the dominant Thanksgiving dessert, but it’s not like customers forget about them once Christmas rolls around.
Loafers, along with many of its baking brethren across the Island, will continue to churn out pies for the holidays, while completing other orders of Christmas-themed cakes and cookies.
Cherry pie is a December hit (probably because it’s red, Foley says). Also on top of people’s lists are apple pie, chocolate cream pie, and apple crumb pie, she notes. There’s also mincemeat, a traditional English pie which Loafers marinates with brandy and is stuffed with candied fruit instead of meat.
Loafers makes 8-inch and 10-inch pies fresh to order, but also offers 9-inch refrigerated pies that are made out of gram-cracker crust.
“Thanksgiving is our rehearsal for Christmas,” Foley says.
Things are a little different over at Youngs Farm in Glen Head.
The farm, founded in 1892, was exclusively wholesale until owner Paula Youngs Weir opened a farm stand in the 1970s. A bakery soon followed.
“I think it’s something that’s grown a lot lately,” says Tim Dooley, Weir’s son-in-law and the farm’s manager, on a recent weekend.
Customers can choose from baskets filled with fresh fruits and vegetables and other grocery items before making their way to the rear, where a line of shoppers chooses from the farm’s large selection of pies: apple, apple crisp, pumpkin and cranberry nut, among others.
Dooley expects pies to be in high demand once shoppers’ tryptophan-turkey coma dissipates.
Youngs offers both small ($15.50-$16.50) and large ($18-$24) fresh pies. The bakery’s staff of about 10 to 15 workers makes all the dough from scratch. It also helps that the bakery sits on 12 acres it owns and an additional 25 acres it rents from Nassau County, which allows them to use the fresh ingredients they grow themselves.
“I think that’s what the secret is, just old-fashioned hard work,” Dooley smiles.
In three years, Carolyn Arcario, co-owner of Wild Flours Bake Shop in Huntington, has developed a devoted following of customers delighted to have a bakery that offers gluten-free sweets, dairy-free, organic and vegan items.
“It’s basically a natural bakery, and people love that aspect of it,” says Arcario, who was inspired to open the bakery with her sister because of her own gluten allergy.
Nestled in the heart of Huntington’s busy shopping district, the bakery strives to “have everything taste as delicious—or more delicious—than the standard” bakery desserts, she says.
The bakery/café offers an assortment of 10-inch pies for Thanksgiving that will be available through December. Wild Flours’ menu is replete with flavorful baked goods, including apple pie, pumpkin pie, crumb-top caramel apple pie and chocolate moose pie.
Some will be cut from the menu come Christmas to make room for its seasonal cakes.
“It used to be that Thanksgiving was just the eating holiday,” Arcario says.
Bakeries across Long Island have enjoyed brisk sales since the calendar turned to fall, and things aren’t expected to die down until after the New Year.
Foley says the six-week period from mid-November to Christmas is responsible for 40 percent of annual sales. And there’s plenty of more baking to do.
“You put in a lot of 18 hour days; you have no choice,” she says. “You just have to work until the work is done.”
LI’s many hungry holiday bellies are thankful.