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Five international treats from Bethesda-area bakeries

Photo by Deb Lindsey

Assorted cookies at Yasaman Bakery

Step inside Yasaman Bakery, a Rockville mainstay since 1984, and discover display cases filled with Persian treats, including many variations of baklava and a superb assortment of cookies. Among the delicacies: thin, buttery nan-e keshmeshi (raisin biscuits); nan-e nokhodchi (small cloverleaf-shaped chickpea cookies with cardamom); bamieh (small donuts, some spherical, others diamond-shaped, soaked in rose syrup and saffron); and zoolbia (round fried squiggles of dough – like funnel cake or Indian jalebi – soaked in rose syrup and saffron). ($17 per pound)

Yasaman Bakery785 Rockville Pike (Ritchie Center), Rockville, 301-762-5416,

White Lotus Seed Dough Double Yellow Moon Cake at Asian Bakery Cafe

In Rockville, the Asian Bakery Cafe serves Cantonese specialties such as pineapple buns, red bean bread and Swiss roll cakes, as well as a wide variety of yue bing (moon cakes), pastries filled rounds baked in decorative moulds. Although the delicacies are usually eaten during the Mid-Autumn Festival (this year it’s September 10), Asian Bakery Cafe sells them year-round with fillings such as winter melon paste, red bean paste and green tea paste. But the one that intrigues us the most has two dried hard-boiled egg yolks surrounded by a caramel-like paste of white lotus seeds. The combination of sweetness, saltiness and richness is irresistible. ($6.80)

Asian Bakery Cafe763 Hungerford Drive, Rockville, 301-838-3189,

Fig Baklava at Mastiha Artisan Greek Bakery

Graduated from a design job in 2009, Katerina Georgallas turned to her Greek heritage for a hustle and created Baklava Couture, selling reimagined versions of the classic Greek pastry of phyllo dough, chopped nuts and honey syrup. at farmers’ markets. It turned into a full time business. In 2018, she expanded the product line, renamed Mastiha Artisan Greek Bakery (mastiha is the sap of the skinos tree, which grows on the Greek island of Chios), and moved into a tiny kitchen reserved for pick- up in Kensington. We love Georgallas’ chewy and crunchy fig baklava: chopped dried figs, almonds and walnuts spread on buttery phyllo sheets, rolled into 3 x 1 inch logs, baked and drizzled with honey syrup and lemon. Note: Mastiha is moving this summer to a larger facility in Rockville. ($15 for six rolls)

Mastiha Artisanal Greek Bakery10560 Metropolitan Ave., rear unit, Kensington, 301-332-6215,

Japanese cheesecake and Japong bakery

The No. 1 seller at Japong Bakery, which baker and owner Hung Su opened in Rockville’s Ritchie Center in 2018, is Japanese cheesecake. Su says the store handles between 200 and 250 in a typical week. Baking soda added to the batter gives this cake more volume and a lighter, fluffier texture than American cheesecake, as does steam – a pan of water placed under the cakes in the oven is removed after 30 minutes , and the cakes are then baked for 20 minutes longer. When they come out of the oven, they are marked with the Japong logo, wrapped in a thin cloth and placed in a cake box with two steam holes. “It’s so soft and creamy when it’s still hot. A lot of people prefer that,” Su says. “When refrigerated for a day, the flavor of the cheese really comes out.” ($13.99 for a 7 inch cake)

Japanese bakery785 Rockville Pike (Ritchie Center), Rockville, 301-762-2853,

Nido de Piña at Melissa’s Bakery

Just inside Asian supermarket giant H Mart in Gaithersburg, next to its produce section, is something unexpected: an independent Salvadoran panadería (bakery) called Melissa’s Bakery. It opened in 2010, but current co-owners and baker brothers Juan and Franklin Reyes took it over in January. The delicious nido de piña looks like a Danish; it is a round of golden brown dough, enriched with eggs and flecked with coconut with a thick filling of bright yellow pineapple in the center. ($0.99)

Melissa’s Bakery (inside H Mart at Montgomery Village Crossing), 9639 Lost Knife Road, Gaithersburg, 301-926-3116, (Website is in Spanish.)

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