Germanic Hot Cross Buns

Just as well I ordered my hot cross buns in advance, because by 7.30am on Good Friday morning at Glaser’s Bake Shop on 87th and 1st, there were only 3 left. These buns are as delicious as they are scarce, being only baked for three days each year over Easter. I guess I could have made do with the kitchen sink cookies in the window ( made with pretzels, potatoes chips, white chocolate, dark chocolate and coconut ) but not only would this have been a serious break with tradition, but the cookies seemed more appropriate to the beginning of lent rather than the end.

Glaser’s is no ordinary bakery. It is a family business that opened 113 years ago when John and Justine Glaser were part of a wave of German immigrants that settled in the area and brought their baking skills with them. Lucky they bought the building, because ( along with the German butcher Schaller & Weber on 86th Street ) the shop is one of the few remaining from that time. The interior seems completely original with polished timber shelving and tiled floors, and the now in-charge third generation has left this intact – along with the string balls above the counter that feed the tying of boxed goodies by lightening fast seasoned hands.

Best of all is that the recipes have not changed. Delicious looking strudels and crumbles fill the cabinets, along with egg shaped chocolate cakes and cinnamon buns. There was no bread baked this week because of Easter, but I shall be sure to go back for their sour dough. It’s probably made from a century old starter yeast. Amazing. Yet the atmosphere is completely non-plussed. When I rang last week to confirm opening times, the lady strongly suggested I preorder my buns even though I intended to get there soon after opening time. When I walked in on Friday the place was empty and my anticipation of a typical New York bustling queue was anticlimactic. But this place is not typical. It turns out everyone preorders, and there were boxes of buns piled on the counter awaiting the arrival of parishioners from the church around the corner (where the grandparents were married). I guess after a century the Glaser’s know their customers pretty well…

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