One-Day Artisan Loaf

You can make very flavorful artisan bread at home by using a technique that’s somewhat new in the bread-baking world: the no-knead method. I use this technique at home all the time and feel sure it will become a favorite of yours as well. The recipes I make this way don’t call for a homemade starter to build flavor. All you need is time, a heavy dutch oven, flour, yeast, olive oil, and salt.

One of the keys to baking a beautiful artisan loaf is having a humid atmosphere when the bread first hits the oven. The covered dutch oven keeps the inside air moist for the first few minutes of baking, allowing the bread’s soft outer surface to rise before it forms a hard crust. The result is a really beautiful loaf—domed, crusty, caramelized to a deep brown color, and full of complex flavors. I’ve found that baking in a cast-iron pot creates the all-time best results for home bread baking.

Click to enjoy recipes for my One-Day Artisan Loaf, One-Day Artisan Whole Grain Loaf and Pesto Ham & Cheese Sandwich.

Going Greek: Baking with Greek Yogurt

Baking with Greek Yogurt

Savoring the benefits of Greek yogurt doesn’t have to end with breakfast. Photo by Meng He.

Greek yogurt has invaded my supermarket, bumping many of the old regular brands off the shelf. It even became a cold war subject in 2014 when Russian President Vladimir Putin refused to allow a shipment of Greek yogurt to reach the United States Olympic team at the winter games in Sochi. Why all the fuss about something as commonplace as yogurt? Was Putin seeking a competitive advantage? Who knows, but Greek yogurt does have health advantages over regular yogurt, with more beneficial probiotic bacteria and a higher protein content. It’s also lower in both natural sugars and sodium. That’s just a bonus. What I like best is its rich flavor and satisfying, creamy mouthfeel. The superior thickness is achieved by straining out the excess whey, giving it that memorable texture and a delicious tang that brings back indelible memories of travels to Santorini and Crete.

Recently the Washington State Dairy Council asked us to develop a recipe featuring Greek yogurt. So we tweaked our Fruit & Yogurt Tart recipe to include the ingredient and now we’re wondering how we ever lived without it. Inspired, we experimented and adjusted other recipes too. We’re now serving our housemade Granola Parfait over a silky dollop of honeyed Greek yogurt and fresh berry compote. We’re also scooping it into batters for some of our cakes and tarts, substituting it for other fats. It enhances textures, creating a finer, more consistent crumb, and adding moisture. Carrying flavor much like butter does, with the perk of extra protein. Judge the results for yourself by trying a slice of our Budapest Coffee Cake or Lemon Sour Cherry Coffee Cake, a sturdy but tender treat that doesn’t just go with breakfast, at least at my house.

When you’re picking up Greek yogurt, to eat or for baking, be sure the label lists only milk and active cultures as ingredients. Some companies add powdered milk protein, starches, and gums to thicken it. This shortcuts the lengthy straining process and the extra milk it requires, saving money in production. Quality is the sacrifice. So grab some plain Greek yogurt and try the recipe below for my Fruit & Greek Yogurt Tart. Or experiment like we did, replacing some or all of the butter or sour cream in your favorite recipes. However it turns out, you’ll discover that once you go Greek, at least with yogurt, you’ll never go back.

 – Leslie Mackie

Fruit & Greek Yogurt Tart

Click here to print this recipe!

Ingredients

Pre-rolled 9” pie shell or one recipe for Flaky Pie Dough (see note below)
3 eggs
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups plain (unflavored) Greek low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/2 cups fresh seasonal fruit
1/3 cup sliced raw almonds
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Makes a 9-inch tart

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Locate a 9” glass pie pan, aluminum pie tin or 2” fluted tart pan.

2. Place chilled pie shell into the pan, line it with parchment paper, and weight with rice or baking beans. Bake for 30 minutes or until shell is golden brown. Remove rice or beans and set aside. Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.

3. In the bowl of a stand mixer place the eggs, sugar and vanilla. With a whisk attachment on medium speed, whip for 3 to 5 minutes or until the mixture becomes light in color and texture.

4. With the mixer on low speed add in the yogurt. Lower the bowl and scrape down the sides to make sure it is well combined. With the mixer on low speed add the flour gradually to avoid forming lumps. Scrape bowl again to ensure everything is well combined.

5. Pour prepared custard into the pre-baked shell leaving a 1/4-inch border at the edge of the crust. This is to prevent the custard from spilling over the edge when the fruit is added. Scatter berries or sliced fresh fruit over the top of the tart and sprinkle sliced almonds around the edge of the tart.

6. Place the tart on the center rack of the oven and bake for approximately 1 hour, or until the tart is set in the center.  Check the tart at 30 minutes and rotate for even baking.

7. Remove the tart from the oven and set aside to cool for 1 hour or chill in the refrigerator before serving. Dust with powdered sugar for presentation.

Note: For an absolutely delicious, foolproof pie crust, use our Flaky Pie Dough recipe, then proceed as follows: Place two-thirds of the prepared dough on a floured work surface and begin rolling out the pie dough to 1/8-inch thickness, creating a 15-inch circle (save remaining dough for other uses). Fold pie dough in half and lift into the baking pan, allowing for a 2-inch border beyond the rim. To create the pie rim, fold the pie dough border up and into itself, overlapping with the cut edge visible to the inside of the tart, making a 1/2-inch standing crust. Crimp the edge all around the pie pan and then chill in freezer for 20 minutes. Continue following instructions in Step 2.

Umeboshi Pizzettas: East Meets West

Umeboshi It’s cherry blossom season! Our city is graced with those treasured pops of pink every spring, but do you know the history behind Seattle’s blossom-filled trees? As a token of the friendship between Japan and Washington, Japan’s former Prime Minister Takeo Miki gave Seattle 1,000 cherry blossom trees on May 8, 1976.

Every year since, we have celebrated this bond during the Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival. From April 24 through April 26, our diverse community will gather at Seattle Center to learn about Japanese culture through music, fellowship, and (our favorite) food.

We’re excited to contribute our own special homage to this year’s festivities, an Umeboshi Pizzetta. Inspired by Tazue Sasaki, Cherry Blossom Festival committee chair and a regular guest of our café, this pizza is the perfect blend of Japanese and Italian culture. Tazue and her husband Yutaka loved ordering our pizzettas when they were on our menu and thought the flavors of the cheese and dough would nicely contrast the tartness of umeboshi, Japan’s ubiquitous pickled plum.

Leslie Mackie and Jane Cho put their heads together and came up with a delightful combination of umeboshi, Parmesan and Swiss cheese, sesame seeds, and olive oil on a freshly baked crust. You can taste our Umeboshi Pizzetta at the Cherry Blossom festival this weekend.

If you would like to try your hand at making umeboshi pizzas at home, click here for a wonderful pizza dough recipe straight from our More from Macrina Cookbook. But, use the umeboshi sparingly. While delicious, a little bit goes a long way.

PCC Natural Markets: Bringing Bread Full Circle

PCC Natural Markets

The PCC Natural Markets staff on a tour of our Sodo production facility.

Nestled between the folds of the rolling Palouse Hills and Blue Mountains sits the Walla Walla Valley. Ripe with meandering creeks that feed the Walla Walla River, this fertile land is home for much of Washington’s agriculture, including Williams Hudson Bay Farm. Owned and operated by brothers Tom and Ray Williams, this farm is part of the PCC Farmland Trust. Founded by PCC Natural Markets in 1999, the Farmland Trust is a way to help keep Northwest organic farms in the hands of farmers.

As Leslie Mackie searched for new ways to feature nutritious, locally sourced ingredients in our products, she learned about the Williams brothers’ whole-grain wheat processed by Fairhaven Mills. We began testing the organic whole wheat flour in some of our breads and found it added a wholesome nutty, sweet flavor perfect for our Whole Wheat Cider bread. Now, whenever you bite into a sandwich or burger made with our Whole Wheat Cider loaf, buns, or dinner rolls, you’re enjoying the Williams brothers’ harvest.

“I have always been a fan of PCC Natural Markets,” says Leslie Mackie. “But, with such a nice tie to the PCC Farmland Trust, it seemed like a natural progression to sell these delicious buns in PCC locations.”

More and more, consumers are interested in knowing where their food comes from, but Seattle has long been ahead of that curve. Leading the charge for sourcing better food from sustainable, trustworthy producers was PCC Natural Markets. What started as a food-buying club with just 15 families back in 1953 is now the largest consumer-owned natural food retail co-operative in the country with 10 locations spanning from Issaquah to Edmonds and plans to open its 11th location in Columbia City this summer.

As of 2014, you can find PCC shelves stocked with everything from our seasonal items like Colomba Pasquale to breadbasket staples like Rustic Potato Rolls and, of course, our Whole Wheat Cider Buns.

“Customers are loving this partnership,” says PCC’s Grocery Merchandiser Scott Owen. “We began selling Macrina breads in King County locations and they sold so wonderfully well we expanded the products to all of our stores.”

Upon a recent field trip to our production facility in Sodo, we were able to show PCC staff exactly how that flour, processed at Fairhaven Mills, and produced on a PCC Farmland Trust farm, is turned into a loaf of bread sold in their stores.

Sharing food made with the very best ingredients, sourced as close to home as possible is something we take great pride in and solidifies our bond with PCC.

“It is such a joy with work with PCC,” adds Leslie. “The staff is appreciative of our products and genuinely excited to sell our breads.”

Meet Our Family: Blake Gehringer

Food Safety Department

Born and raised in the Deep South, Blake Gehringer proved his knack for culinary arts was no fluke when he landed a pastry chef apprenticeship despite the stiff competition. He settled into a coveted position as head pastry chef at an upscale restaurant in Charlotte, North Carolina. But, fate had different plans for Blake. During a visit to Seattle, Blake fell in love.

“When I returned to North Carolina, Annie sent me a Seattle ‘recruiting’ package. In this package was an application for Macrina Bakery,” Blake recalls. He couldn’t resist the strong pull West and three months later he was back in Seattle, only this time, it was for good. After a brief stint in construction, a term with AmeriCorps, and some time in the donations department at the Habitat for Humanity Store, Annie (now Blake’s fiancée) persuaded him to return to his passion for pastry, gently prodding him with that same job application.

“At this time Macrina required a pastry and baking education, which I didn’t have,” says Blake, who earned his degree in construction management. “I must have made a decent impression on [Production Manager] Jane Cho, though. She gave me a chance.”

For three years, Blake played a pivotal role in Macrina’s Retail Pastry Department at Sodo. But, just over a year ago, we decided to enhance our high food safety standards by forming a dedicated Food Safety Department. With his dedication, upbeat attitude and penchant for leadership, we knew right away that Blake was the person to head up this new team.

Trading a rolling pin for a clip board, Blake now oversees new protocols for impeccable standards in all areas of the company while guiding staff on proper procedures.

“It forces me to wear different hats at any given moment,” Blake says, running through a list of things he documents each day, ranging from allergen control to equipment maintenance. Working with people who are passionate about Macrina and being part of a supportive team makes it all so much easier, he adds.

Since the inception of our new Food Safety Department, Blake has been at the forefront of our Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point program and helped us excel with top-notch food safety audit scores.

“The best part of my job is being able to interact with all departments on a daily basis. It’s a fantastic community to be a part of. Also, the bread, my gosh the bread!”

Colomba Pasquale: A Springtime Tradition

Colomba Pasquale for EasterSo many wonderful things mark the arrival of spring: sun-drenched days, flowers in bloom, fresh produce in the market, and our favorite, Colomba Pasquale. This bread has been an Easter menu highlight for years, ushering in a new season and adorning tabletops alongside tulip-filled vases.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a bakery in Italy not spilling over with freshly baked loaves of Colomba Pasquale this time of year. Hailing from the Lombardy province in Italy, “Colomba Pasquale” translates to “Easter dove.” Similar to Panettone at Christmastime, this bread is widely known in Italy as a favorite for Easter celebrations. While it’s less common in the states, our customers look forward to it each year.

Studded with candied orange peel, topped with a baked glaze of sliced almonds, and dusted with powdered sugar, our Colomba Pasquale is just as delicious fresh as it is toasted. Slices can be drizzled with honey and served with fresh fruit for a pre-Easter Egg Hunt brunch, but its also perfect with afternoon tea. Whether you’re looking for a hostess gift or just want to add some extra sweetness to these spring mornings, Colomba Pasquale is a natural.

Be sure to pre-order a loaf or two for Easter morning. Colomba Pasquale will be available in our cafés through April 12.

Demi Baguette: The Not-So-Humble Ham and Cheese Sandwich

Earl of Sandwich

The first sandwich started with a few basic ingredients: meat, bread, maybe some cheese. We’re talking about the fabled lunch of the great food innovator John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich.

Sandwiches have come a long way since the Earl’s day in the 1700s. Americans eat about 200 sandwiches on average each year. Whether you prefer yours stuffed with egg and bacon at breakfast, towering with turkey at lunch, or griddled with cheese at dinner, we’re willing to bet you’ve enjoyed at least one sandwich today.

While we serve a smattering of sandwiches featuring creatively combined ingredients on our breads, our Demi Baguette sandwich goes back to basics. This Lunch Menu mainstay is stuffed full of savory ham slices, creamy Fontina cheese, tendrils of fresh organic field greens, and a smear of lip-smacking Dijon.

Not only is our ham and cheese a comforting classic, only a little grown up, it’s uncompromising in quality. Recently we looked for a way to improve this sandwich, which led us right to Hempler’s. Located in Ferndale, Washington, just a hop, skip and jump away, the family-owned company has made mouthwatering, high-quality ham for over 80 years using ingredients with sustainability in mind. Pit-smoked and sweetened with a bit of honey, Hempler’s ham is completely free of allergens, gluten, MSG, phosphates, and artificial color. It’s also nitrate and chemical free. Who knew something so basic could be so good?

Get a taste of this new ham on our Demi Baguette at any of our cafés and let us know what you think.

The Seattle Food and Wine Experience


Leslie Mackie discusses Macrina Bakery’s auspicious start and the buzz surrounding SWFE in an interview with TableTalk Northwest last year.

If you haven’t scooped up tickets for the Seattle Wine and Food Experience (SWFE) yet, you had better act fast! VIP Tickets to Sunday’s event are sold out and general admission spots are going fast. This annual culinary event of epic proportion features the Northwest’s best food paired with the finest wine, beer and cider from around the world.

As you sample your way through Seattle Center Exhibition Hall, be sure to stop our table in Les Dames d’Escoffier Alley for a bite of Seeded Sardinian Flatbread layered with Smoked Salmon Mousse, pickled slaw and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

“What really sets SWFE apart from other food and wine events are the carefully crafted experiences within the event,” says SWFE Producer Jamie Peha.

In addition to tasting food and beverages from more than 200 vendors, this year SWFE invites you to taste reserve caliber wines with QFC wine stewards, learn how to cook with beer, refine your sense of smell during the Wente Vineyard Aroma Experience, and guide your palate to the perfect wine with help form Ste. Michelle Wine Estates.

“We want guests to walk away with education about the beverage and food products they encounter at the event,” adds Jamie.

Les Dames d’Escoffier Seattle, this year’s event beneficiary, is a wonderful non-profit organization of women leaders in the culinary world whose focus is on raising scholarship funds for women in the food, beverage and hospitality industries, while also supporting community outreach and local sustainable-agriculture projects.

Click here for more event details and ticket information.

Valentine’s Day Brunch: Cherry Brioche French Toast

Cherry Brioche French Toast

Instead of scrambling to find a last-minute Valentine’s Day dinner reservation, whip up a delicious brunch for your Valentine – or your favorite single friends. Our Mini Cherry Brioche is only available for a limited time and it makes a wonderful French toast. Topped with warm maple syrup and rich brandy whipped cream, it’s a sweet way to start the day whether you’re happily single or blissfully coupled.

Cherry Brioche French Toast
Click here to print this recipe!

Ingredients

For the brandy whipped cream:
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon brandy
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla

For the French toast:
5 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
*1 Mini Cherry Brioche
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon butter

*Available in our cafés.

Serves 2

Preparing the brandy whipped cream:
In a medium bowl, place the cream, brandy, sugar and vanilla. Mix with a whisk or hand-mixer until the mixture holds its shape, about 2 minutes. Set aside until ready to use.

Preparing the French toast:
1. In a medium bowl, place the eggs, vanilla, brown sugar, cream, cinnamon and nutmeg and whisk to combine. Pour custard into a shallow baking pan.

2. Cut the brioche into 1-inch thick slices. Dredge each slice in the custard, making sure all sides are evenly coated.

3. In a large sauté pan over medium heat, warm the vegetable oil and butter. Lay the brioche slices in the pan and cook until both sides are golden brown.

4. Divide French toast slices among 2 plates. Serve with a drizzle of pure maple syrup and a dollop of brandy whipped cream.

Pike Chocofest 2015: Sip, Savor and Swoon for a Good Cause

Pike Chocofest 2014

One of the sweetest events of the year is just around the corner – and we aren’t talking about Valentine’s Day! We’re getting ready to make mouths water at the seventh annual Pike Chocofest.

Crafted with beer and chocolate lovers in mind, Chocofest covers three levels of Pike’s Microbrewery Museum this Sunday, February 8, from 6 to 9 p.m. As you sip and savor your way through the event, stop by our table where you will find our delicious Mini Cherry Brioche with savory barbecue pulled pork. For the perfect bite, pair it with a sip of a sweeter, full-flavored beer like Pike Kilt Lifter.

In addition to welcoming nearly 100 food and drink purveyors, Pike Brewing Company is debuting its Chocolate Cask Beer Festival. This new section of Chocofest features about 20 breweries that will incorporate chocolate into naturally carbonated cask beer.

Tickets for Chocofest are on sale now for $50, which includes all the food you want, a commemorative tasting glass, 10 drink tickets, live music and discounted parking. All proceeds from this event benefit the Puget Soundkeeper Alliance (PSA), an organization dedicated to protecting and preserving the waters of the Puget Sound. This year, Chocofest will also include the Save the Sound Valentine Store where guests can support PSA by buying treats for their loved ones.

Click here for tickets and more event details.