Pan de Muerto

pan de

In Mexico, Pan de Muerto, or bread of the dead, is a flavorful sweet bread traditionally baked during the weeks leading up to the Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, which is celebrated on November 1st and 2nd. All month leading up to the official celebration people enjoy this bread. On Dia de los Muertos, the bread is taken to the gravesite, often along with the favorite food of the deceased, and eaten there. Food is very important to the celebration, for it is thought the dead are driven back to the living by the scent of their favorite foods.

pan right size

Our Pan de Muerto is made in honor of this wonderful tradition. A soft round of sweet, yeast-risen bread with a crunchy cinnamon sugar glaze, ours is studded with fresh orange zest and spiced with orange flower water, cinnamon, cardamon, and cloves. We lay two crossed links of dough over the top to symbolize crossbones. They represent those no longer among the living. This bread, sliced and toasted for breakfast or dipped in Mexican hot chocolate as an afternoon snack is a decadent treat.

Pan de Muerto is in our cafes up through the Day of the Dead. You can also find it at Metropolitan Markets and Town and Country Markets.

Leslie

 

Challah Crowns

challah crownThroughout time people have gathered to break bread, brought together by warm loaves made from simple ingredients: flour, water, salt. Some special loaves bring people together with religious significance. Challah is just such a loaf. A traditional egg bread in the European Jewish tradition, the rich, golden loaf is similar to brioche or the Russian babka. It is typically eaten at the meal marking the beginning of the Sabbath, the day of rest. Traditionally the loaf is braided to symbolize unity. Some loaves are sprinkled with poppy seeds to symbolize manna from heaven.

At Macrina we make Challah every Friday, offering it in both plain and poppy seed. Our recipe came from our friend Andy Meltzer, a former baker at Macrina, who is currently a baking instructor at the Culinary Institute of America. He got the recipe from friends in upstate New York. Our Challah is such a favorite, I included it in the first Macrina Bakery and Cafe Cookbook. We form ours into three braids. It bakes into quite a beautiful loaf. Our challah is a deep golden mahogany color and has a firm crust. Its soft, tight crumb pulls apart easily. Gently sweet, the bread is great toasted, turned into delicate french toast, or passed around the table with a meal.

On Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, challah takes on extra significance when it is formed in a circle to recall the cycle of the year. For this occasion the bread is often dipped in honey to represent hopes for a sweet new year. We refer to the circular Challah we make for Rosh Hashanah as a crown. Whether challah is part of your religious tradition, or you just love sharing great food with others, come try this beautiful, symbolic loaf for yourself.

This year Rosh Hashanah starts Sunday, September 13th and ends Tuesday, September 15th.  Our three cafes will be well-stocked with challah for the duration of the holidays.

Leslie

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.

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.

12 Days of Cookies: Day 12, Ginger Molasses Cookies

Ginger Molasses Cookies

As Leslie says, ginger has a natural warming quality that’s perfect for this time of year. With its recipe closely mirroring that of gingerbread, conventional wisdom tells us that the Ginger Molasses Cookie is a miniature version of the sweet and spicy cake.

Fresh ginger and a texture that perfectly balances chewy and crisp are what make these cookies exceptionally good. Follow along with Leslie as she prepares our Ginger Molasses Cookies in this video!

Ginger Molasses Cookies
Click here to print this recipe!

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons peeled and chopped ginger
1/3 cup dark molasses
1 cup granulated sugar

Makes 16 cookies

1. Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ground cloves, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix with a whisk until evenly distributed and set aside.

2. Combine shortening, butter, and brown sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and pale in color. Add 1 egg and mix until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add remaining egg and scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Add ginger and molasses and mix on low speed for 1 minute. The mixture may look as if it’s separating, but have no fear. It will come together once the dry ingredients are added. Remove the bowl from the mixture and scrape down the sides of the bowl again.

3. Using a rubber spatula, fold half of the flour mixture into the dough. After the flour is fully incorporated, fold in the rest of the flour mixture and continue folding until all of the flour has been absorbed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. At this point the dough can be formed into cookies or stored in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

4. Preheat oven to 325º F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper and pour granulated sugar into a pie pan or shallow bowl.

5. Scoop dough out of the bowl (I like to use an ice cream scoop) and roll the dough into small balls. Toss each of the balls in granulated sugar until evenly coated, then place on a baking sheet, leaving space between each ball. Slightly flatten each ball of dough with the palm of your hand to keep the balls from rolling around.

6. Place 1 sheet of cookies in the refrigerator while baking the other sheet.

7. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, on center rack of oven for 12 to 14 minutes each. To help the cookies bake evenly, rotate the baking sheet every 4 minutes or so. The finished cookies will be golden brown and slightly puffed up but will collapse while they cool. Let cool on the baking sheet for 15 minutes. The cooled cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

12 Days of Cookies: Day 11, Olivia’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

Olivia's Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix

When Leslie set out to create the perfect cookie, her inspiration was her daughter Olivia and a famous recipe: the Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie. There aren’t many recipes on the back of packages that you tirelessly turn to, but the one forever linked to those ubiquitous chocolate chips is a classic.

The original chocolate chip cookie was the invention of Ruth Wakefield, who, with her husband, ran the Toll House Inn from 1939 to 1967. After her recipe was printed in 1938, this confectionary delight stole the hearts of cookie lovers across the U.S. It wasn’t long before Nestlé came calling and she sold the rights to her recipe and the Toll House name.

A nod to the deeply delectable gold standard, Leslie developed her own uniquely delicious recipe and named it for her daughter. Since we began selling Olivia’s Chocolate Chip Cookies, they have been a big hit with customers young and old, even garnering some media buzz as one of America’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies.

While you can find the recipe in Leslie’s first cookbook, it’s now even easier to whip up a batch on a whim. We recently introduced Olivia’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix; perfect for tucking into stockings, gifting to a hostess, or mailing in a care package to far-flung friends around the globe. Pick up a jar of this mix at any of our cafés!

12 Days of Cookies: Day 10, Swedish Overnights

Swedish Overnights

No Scandinavian Christmas celebration would be complete without Swedish Overnights. Also called Swedish Heirloom Cookies, Swedish Overnights share similar ingredients to Mexican Wedding Balls. These cookies can be dusted with powered sugar, or in this case, colorful sprinkles for a festive touch. Leslie inherited this recipe from her mother’s family and she loves baking these cookies every Christmas. We hope you enjoy them, too.

Check out our video to follow Leslie’s simple step-by-step instructions for preparing these cookies!

Swedish Overnights
Click here to print this recipe!

Ingredients 

8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 egg, separated
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
Crystal sugar in your favorite colors

Prepare this dough 1 day before baking.
Makes 3 dozen cookies

1. Combine butter and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed for about 30 seconds. Increase speed to medium and mix for another 5 to 7 minutes, or until the mixture is smooth and pale in color. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and mix for about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and mix for another 30 seconds, making sure egg and vanilla are thoroughly incorporated. Remove bowl from mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl again.

2. Using a rubber spatula, fold half of the flour into the dough. After the first batch is fully incorporated, fold in the other half and continue folding until all of the flour has been absorbed, 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Pull dough from the bowl and onto a floured surface and divide it in half. Roll each half into a log about 1 1/2 inches thick, and place the logs on separate pieces of parchment paper. (The parchment paper needs to be at least 4 inches longer than the logs.) Brush the logs with the egg white, then scatter half of the walnuts over each log. Roll the logs back and forth until they are completely coated in nuts. Roll each log up within its parchment paper. Finish by twisting the ends of the paper to create a seal. Chill logs in the refrigerator over night.

4. Preheat oven to 325ºF. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

5. Unwrap the logs and using a sharp knife, cut them into 1/2-inch-think coins. Place the cookies on the prepared baking sheets, leaving 1 inch between each cookie. Brush the top of each cookie with a tiny bit of water and sprinkle festive sugar crystals on top.

6. Bake on center rack of oven, 1 sheet at a time, for 20 to 25 minutes. To help the cookies bake evenly, rotate the baking sheet every 4 minutes or so. The finished cookies will be golden brown on the edges and pale in the center. Let cookies cool completely on the baking sheet. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 month at room temperature.

12 Days of Cookies: Day 9, Spicy Cocoa Nib Cookies

Spicy Cocoa Nibs Cookies

Traditionally, our Holiday Cookie Box has been filled with cookies that Leslie grew up enjoying, made with recipes handed down in her family. A bit of a departure, our pastry team inspired this year’s box of treats. Knowing how much customers love our Mexican Hot Chocolate, with its velvety sweet chocolate and hint of spice, Assistant Pastry Chef Allison Borte wanted to develop something similar for the holidays.

“Expanding on that idea, I started thinking of my love of Mexican cuisine and the idea of a mole sauce popped into my head,” says Allison, who works at our Belltown location. “Mole sauce combines the subtly sweet richness of cocoa with a spicy kick from peppers, typically chipotle.”

Allison began brainstorming products that would capture the essence of that authentic Mexican sauce and our signature hot chocolate. Many baking sessions and taste tests later, she had a winning creation.

“I wanted to think of a cookie that is really different from the cookies we usually do, so I thought that a cookie that combines these sweet and spicy flavors would be perfect,” Allison explains of the creative process behind her Spicy Cocoa Nib Cookies. “Adding the cocoa nib gives it more texture, so there’s a little crunch in every bite.”

Allison’s Spicy Cocoa Nib Cookies have a deep thrum of chocolate flavor with a hint of warm spice throughout. You can find these new cookies in our Holiday Cookie Box at any of our cafés this holiday season!

12 Days of Cookies: Day 8, Pistachio Shortbread Cookies

Shortbread Cookies

While shortbread cookies go down in history as one of the oldest treats (they date back to medieval times), the very first shortbread recipe appeared in “Mrs. McLintock’s Recipes for Cookery and Pastry-Work,” a Scottish cookbook published in 1736. The quaint recipe reads:

To Make Short Bread

Take a peck of Flour, put three lb of Butter in amoung a little water, and let it melt, pour it in amoung your Flour, put in a Mutchkin of good Barm; when it is wrought divide it in three parts, roll out your cakes longer then broad, and gather from the sides with your Finger, cut down the Middle and job it on Top, then send it to the oven.

One of the reasons we have loved shortbread for centuries is the cookie’s adaptability. Mary, Queen of Scots, adored the herbaceous notes of caraway seeds folded into the dough; Queen Victoria preferred hers with a pinch of salt; and the Girls Scouts gravitate toward shortbread with a lemony lift.

From Pine Nut Rosemary to Salted Orange, we include a handful of shortbread cookie variations in our Holiday Cookie Box. But, the Pistachio Shortbread Cookie is a classic at Macrina. The pistachio’s pale green hue naturally points to holiday celebrations and its buttery flavor highlights the cookie’s simple ingredients.

Find our Holiday Cookie Box in our cafés through the holidays, and pick up our latest cookbook, More from Macrina, to enjoy our Pistachio Shortbread Cookie recipe all year long!

12 Days of Cookies: Day 7, Bizcochos

Bizcochos

This year we changed up the assortment in our Holiday Cookie Box to reflect the tastes of our pastry team and include recipes that they grew up enjoying. The Bizcocho cookie is rooted in Spanish culture and a staple on holiday tables. It’s also popular for cookie swaps, so we thought it would be perfect to feature. You’ll know it by its dome shape and sandy color.

The idea to include Bizcochos came from Jennafer Claproth, pastry lead at our Sodo location. Jennafer’s great-great-aunt Tia Theresa was a wonderful baker who passed her recipes down to her children, who then passed them on to their cousin, Jennafer’s grandmother.

“I remember as a kid my great-cousins would come to my grandma’s house to make these cookies, plus various others, for Christmas,” says Jennafer. “Having them give us the recipe was a challenge, since my aunt never had any exact measurements and neither did my cousins.”

One day, Jennafer decided the only way to get the recipe was to make them with one of her cousins. Every pinch of spice and handful of flour that her cousin used was meticulously measured and written down until they had the precise recipe.

When we gathered together at Leslie’s home last summer to brainstorm ideas and discuss recipes for the Holiday Cookie Box, Jennafer shared her Bizcochos. It was love at first bite. The sandy texture melts into a sweet, buttered pecan flavor, making it impossible to eat just one.

“These cookies continue to be made every Christmas and we wait for them all year long,” says Jennafer.

Find Jennafer’s Bizcochos tucked into our Holiday Cookie Box, available in our cafés through the end of the year!