A Thanksgiving shortcut, baked goods from Homestead

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There are two scenarios for a home-hosted Thanksgiving. In the first, you’re having people over and preparing the meal. In the second, you’re going to someone else’s place, simply bringing something along. In this second scenario, you can tote along a nice bottle of Côtes du Rhône or a sliceable baguette or a fresh pumpkin pie – and all that is lovely and satisfying – but we live in Queens, and we have some interesting and unexpected options to round out a beautiful gathering of family and friends.

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Take for example Homestead Gourmet Shop, located in the main shopping district of Kew Gardens at 81-45 Lefferts Boulevard, at the corner of Cuthbert Road, (GMAP). Homestead is a 65-year old Polish deli and grocery that could not be more authentic in its offerings of endless varieties of sausages, pirogues, pastrami briskets, Black Forest hams, very fresh slaws and potato salads – locals are dedicated to their roast beef sandwiches – and general Eastern European groceries. But the star of the show is struedel. What could be more soothing on a crisp fall afternoon than buttery, flakey  pastry filled with sugared fruit?

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The struedel selection, showcased prominently in the large front window, includes apple, cherry and cheese, among others, and all are made fresh on site. These pastries are large, about 8 inches long, priced just under $10, and are made to serve 3 or 4 diners. But if you can down a whole one after a full Thanksgiving meal, hats off to you. Warm them up for maximum flavor, or serve at room temperature.

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Another great post-entrée (with sides) offering is the blueberry crumb cake ($26), a good 12 inches in diameter, wonderful with coffee. Also, the Dutch apple cake ($14.50), a smaller cake of about 7 inches, is flaky and crispy with a smooth apple filling and a transcendent glaze that brings the whole cake together in a symphony of tastes and textures. This is no exaggeration.

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Fun are the sekacz stacked cakes ($16.50), towered like an evergreen tree, the name literally means ‘bark.’ These are made from a spongy yeast cake and have been traditionally baked around a rotisserie. They’re usually sliced from the top down, filled with fruit, and drizzled with chocolate sauce.

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You’ll also find a few kinds of tort wafers, or wafle tortowe, in large rectangular or circular packages, ($3.98). These are obviously plentiful, easy to break or crumble up and add a crunch to pie or ice cream or serve alongside coffee. Great for a crowd.

It’s so easy to add any of these delicious yet slightly exotic treats to a traditional Thanksgiving meal, satisfying taste buds while sparking conversation, and this is definitely something to be grateful for.

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