2010-11-10 / Restaurant of the Week

Martha’s Country Bakery

By Teresa Barile

Like a warm blanket and a pair of fuzzy slippers, Martha’s Country Bakery warms you with the comfort and love that only home baked goods can provide. From the warm, friendly staff, to the cozy décor, to the steaming hot coffee, a visit to Martha’s Country Bakery is a treat for everyone, now in three popular locations throughout Queens.

Now, the best time to visit as we lament the passage of warm days, we can seek comfort in caramel walnut crumb cake, chocolate mousse cake and yes, cupcakes in 18 varieties. These cupcakes are the best I’ve eaten, mainly due to the proper balance of sugar in the real butter cream icing. Never gritty or artificial tasting, this is the real deal and the cupcake itself is moist and flavorful. Martha’s Country Bakery is no “flash in the baking pan” and as other cupcake shops have opened and closed, George Stertsios and partner Tony Zannikos have spent their entire lives in the business, starting literally, from scratch. It’s this deep knowledge and love for the business, begun by George’s immigrant parents, that results in some of the best cakes, cookies, cupcakes, puddings and pies in New York City.

Start your day with a cup of their delicious coffee, brewed with the highest quality beans. Latte, cappuccino, pumpkin spice, mochaccino and a wide variety of teas and hot chocolate is available. The peanut hot chocolate is addictive and goes well with a flaky croissant, muffin or sweet roll. Muffin flavors include blueberry banana, bran, cappuccino, cranberry, carrot, chocolate chip and more. Dunk a cinnamon stick pastry or a piece of their famous yogurt pound cake into the magical brew. Tender scones laced with pecans or raisins dunk right into your hot coffee for the perfect start to your day, to stay or to go. You’ll love the charming interior with hardwood floors, white beadboard paneling and warm yellow walls.

The sparkling display case, some twenty feet long, displays a dazzling array of artfully prepared cakes, tarts, pies, giant cookies, little cookies, mousse pastries, ganache, puddings and so much more. I sampled several of the house specialties and the single most notable, positive and appreciated aspect of every item I tasted was the balance of sugar in the recipes. In all too many cases these days, bakery items are overloaded with sugar to the point where you can’t taste any of the other ingredients. Because Martha’s Country Bakery uses only fine, high quality ingredients, the sugar is kept at a minimum to allow you to taste the fresh butter, high quality chocolate, fruit and flavorings that go into each item, with plenty of sweetness for even the sweetest tooth. No trans fats are ever used, so one may enjoy healthier treats, many served warm from the oven.

I was particularly impressed with their gorgeous sevenlayer chocolate cake. Impossibly thin layers of moist, chocolaty cake are pressed between fluffy, rich chocolate mousse, made fresh each day. Finally, a smooth ganache topping dressed the top of the cake which can be ordered by the slice or in its entirety. You will be a superstar by bringing this cake to someone’s house next time you’re invited. The chocolate mousse cake forgoes the cake layers and is a wedge of sublimely fluffy, light chocolate mousse that is redolent with quality chocolate used in the recipe. Don’t miss out on their creamy cheesecakes, rich, moist Red Velvet cake, tiramisu cake or strawberry shortcake. Classic Bundt cake and carrot cake will please everyone at the table.

Bread puddings are made each day and I loved their old-fashioned recipe, served warm. There’s even chocolate bread pudding for the chocoholic. Banana cream pudding is something of a lost art, happily found here. This creamy, light, all natural banana dessert brings back fond memories of childhood. Flaky strudel is filled with chunky apples, or a combination of apples, blueberries and pecans for the ultimate Fall treat, especially when warmed up. You can order a scoop of ice cream to accompany any pie if you like. If you have “pie in the sky” dreams, Martha’s is happy to oblige with classic apple pie, mile-high lemon meringue, pumpkin, pecan, coconut custard and more. Place your order right now for Thanksgiving and serve your guests the best.

While you’re there, take home one of their famous poundcakes, made moist with high quality yogurt. Banana walnut or blueberry banana poundcake gets even more flavorful from a quick toasting, while chocolate poundcake is rich and moist. Cranberry crumb is one of my seasonal favorites, as is blueberry banana.

Martha’s Country Bakeries are open from 6:00am to 11:00pm on weeknights and until 1:00am on Saturday nights to accommodate late night couples and friends. Moms with strollers in tow are welcome to stop in for a pick me up and treat for the little one and commuters love Martha’s quick, courteous service en route to work. Order your special birthday cakes, or a tower of cupcakes for that special someone. Cakes for all occasions are always on the spot, in case you didn’t have a chance to place an order so stop in today. There’s always something sweet and yummy at Martha’s Country Bakery, where a lifetime of experience and love goes into each and every treat.

Martha’s Country Bakery
36-21 Ditmars Blvd.
Astoria (718) 545-9737
70-30 Austin Street
Forest Hills (718) 544-0088
41-06 Bell Blvd.
Bayside (718) 225-5200

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