There used to be a bakery on 31st Avenue between 34th and 35th Street in Astoria called Martha’s. This modest, narrow storefront was loved by every sweet tooth in the neighborhood. Martha’s Country Bakery was renowned for its delectable hamantashen, yogurt pound cakes, and red velvet cupcakes. But that 31st Avenue location shut down almost a year ago.
It was replaced by something called Corona Bakery. The new facade was sterile and impersonal. The name – Corona – seemed out of place in proud Astoria. The locals were vocally disappointed. Corona Bakery just wasn't the same.
The locals are right about it not being the same. I stopped at Corona Bakery while I drove down 31st Avenue recently, and I found it to be quite different from Martha’s. So I didn’t try the red velvet cupcakes or the yogurt pound cake. I asked the counterman what he recommended, and he pointed to a large glass case in the center of the store full of Mexican pastries and breads.
The item that caught my eye first was the Mexican sweet bread, known as pan dulce. I took one for the road, and I was delighted. The light, airy loaf was not overwhelmingly sugary. The flavor of the ground cinnamon and granulated sugar topping complimented the sweet, pinkish center of the bun perfectly. The pan dulce was nothing short of scrumptious, a pleasant surprise at a bakery from which I hadn’t expected much.
New York is always being reborn. And those who live in the past don’t really live in New York. Corona Bakery clearly has its own merits. Martha’s was great, but it no longer exists on 31st Avenue. The delicious hamantashen have been replaced by delicious pan dulce.
In this case however, you can have your cake and eat it too. Thankfully for those loyal to the old bakery, Martha’s is alive and kicking just six blocks away on Ditmars Boulevard.
Corona Bakery, 31st Avenue between 34th and 35th Street
Martha’s Country Bakery, 3621 Ditmars Blvd., 718-545-9737