February and our thoughts turn to our sweetheart or rather sweet hearts.
Imagine our surprise when pondering pastry hearts, we came across a notation on Wikipedia that lists Buffalo as the origin of the pastry heart.
Could this be true? Using a non-scientific method, we Googled “San Francisco pastry hearts,” “New York City pastry hearts,” even “Rochester pastry hearts.”
Nada. Zip. Nothing. Pastry hearts are for sale all year throughout Western New York. Is the rest of the world really missing out on these delights?
France’s palmier (pig’s/elephant ear, palm shape) resembles a heart, but are merely sprinkled with sugar. Boring.
Someone call Mayor Byron Brown. Can we start a movement to add the pastry heart to the wing, weck, sponge candy lore of our city?
Trying to get to the heart of the matter, we immediately dialed a purveyor of the pastry heart — Eileen’s Centerview Bakery (45 Center Road, West Seneca).
Owner Carol Frick, granddaughter of the original Eileen, didn’t know about Buffalo being the possible birthplace of the pastry heart, but did provide us with some interesting crumbs to ponder.
Baker Dan Chudoba, who at age 80 still works part time at Eileen's where he’s worked for more than 50 years, told Frick that “The only thing he knows about pastry hearts is that he has been making them since he was a teenager.” Humph.
Frick also notes her pastry hearts have probably been flown and driven throughout the country. “We have out-of-towners who come in all the time to buy pastry hearts before they head back home,” she said.
Well, that’s enough data to confirm our findings.
In the meantime, Eileen's always carries large seven-inch pastry hearts and sells the mini version by the dozen.
Normally a good seller any time of the year, the pastry heart business ramps up for Valentine’s Day. (Poor Dan.)
“We sell hundreds the week of Valentine’s,” said Frick who notes her bakery’s version, “has a lot of icing.” As they should.
Eileen’s also will sell Valentine cut-out cookies, heart-shaped cakes and what we are calling sheer genius — a long stem rose cake. The pre-order, oblong cake can be vanilla or chocolate. It comes decorated with long stem frosting roses and a customer’s special message.
“Because who wants just flowers?” said Frick. A gal after our own heart.
Story topics: valentine's day