- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Billy Reece put himself through college working in a bakery. When he graduated with degrees in design and management from Parsons School of Design in New York City, he decided to open a bakery rather than pursue his field of study.

All of New York is buzzing about the newest bakery in town, and many are thankful that it’s right in their neighborhood.

On Ninth Avenue in the emerging chic Chelsea neighborhood, Billy’s Bakery opened in December and has been doing as much crowd management as baking ever since.

Frequent long lines outside the little storefront have done more to promote the baked goods than any advertising campaign could have hoped to accomplish. Not that the goods need promoting to convince us of their goodness.

There are usually 20 to 25 items offered, divided among old-fashioned tall layer cakes, pies, cookies, bar cookies and cupcakes.

The cupcakes, vanilla or chocolate cake with either vanilla or chocolate icing, are the mainstays of the business, and they sail out the door at a rate of close to 3,000 a week.

Decorated like your grandmother’s 1940s kitchen, with white wainscoting and midcentury antique floral wallpaper, Billy’s Bakery contains enamel- and Formica-topped kitchen tables, where customers may enjoy their treats with coffee or other beverages. “I brought them back with me the last time I drove back to Kansas City,” Mr. Reece says, explaining the hometown origin of his tables.

“They cost a lot less there than in New York City.”

Perhaps it’s a little early to tell what’s in store for Mr. Reece, but he says plans for the future include getting more organized and increasing the specialty-cake business, although cupcakes are definitely the bread and butter of this new bakery.

Billy’s Bakery’s address is 184 Ninth Ave., New York, NY 10011; phone 212/647- 9953; Web: www.billysbakerynyc.com.

Hello Dolly bars

A variation on the ever-popular magic bars, these are a mainstay at Billy’s Bakery.

1 6-ounce package semisweet chocolate chips

1 6-ounce package butterscotch chips

1 cup graham-cracker crumbs

1 cup pecan pieces

1 cup sweetened shredded coconut

6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

In a mixing bowl, combine chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham-cracker crumbs, pecan pieces and coconut. Stir well to mix.

Fold in butter until all ingredients are evenly moistened, and scrape mixture into a 9-by-13-by-2-inch pan lined with buttered foil.

Smooth top and press lightly with palm of hand to gently compress mixture. Pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly over the top.

Bake on a rack in the middle level of a preheated 350-degree oven for about 35 minutes, or until lightly colored.

Cool on a rack.

Make sure the chips have solidified somewhat before cutting into squares.

Store bars in a tin or plastic container with a tight-fitting cover.

Makes about 24 2-inch bar cookies.

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