The (Tasty) Benefits of Heritage Grains

Does “great taste” come to mind when you think of heritage grains? 

Many Americans consider heritage grains a health food—something they should eat, not something they want to eat. Fortunately, that appears to be on the cusp of change. Top chefs and bakers have been cooking with new heritage grain hybrids with thrilling results. 

One of my favorite events of the year is Grain Gathering, an annual three-day event held every July since 2011 at the Bread Lab. Expert bakers, millers, grain scientists, farmers and industry representatives gather in the Skagit Valley. Their goal is to break the dominance of commodity wheat and to find a way to sell America on the benefits of heritage grains. Flavor is the number one selling point. Nutrition is another along with environmental sustainability. Virtually every community in America used to grow wheat. More robust heritage wheat hybrids could again make this economically feasible, benefitting local economies.  

At a Grain Gathering a few years ago, I was introduced to two hybrids developed by Bread Lab. One is called Skagit Magic, which is grown in the Skagit Valley and milled at nearby Cairn Springs Mill. The other is called Expresso Wheat (or, in the lab, T-85). It is grown in Walla Walla and also milled at Cairn Springs Mill. When I started Macrina, flours like these just weren’t available. 

For Macrina’s twenty-fifth anniversary last year, I developed two new breads that utilized these new organic flours. I spent many hours playing around with various techniques and found the heritage flours work best with a slow fermentation. This helps develop subtle, bright flavors and hydrates the bran. I made our Skagit Sourdough with the Skagit Magic. This is one of our most grain-forward and flavorful loaves. The Whole Grain Baguette is our other new loaf, which we make with the Expresso.

Skagit Valley – The Best Grains in the World

At Macrina, our two latest breads feature heritage wheats—the primary reason being the astonishing flavor they add. Edouardo Jordan, the star chef and creator of JuneBaby, named America’s best new restaurant by the James Beard Foundation, recently opened Lucinda Grain Bar, a concept focused on ancient grains. “As Americans, we eat some of the most flavorless, unhealthy grain-based products in the world,” Jordan said. “Commercialization has stripped down all the nutritional value in our grain product. We are excited to explore the flavor and potential of ancient grains.” Jordan noted that some of the best grains in the world are grown in the Skagit Valley. 

The Bread Lab, located in the Skagit Valley, deserves no small amount of credit for this. Part science lab, part high-end bakery, this extension of Washington State University occupies a 12,000 square foot space in Mount Vernon that includes a research and baking kitchen, a cytology lab, the King Arthur Flour Baking School, a milling laboratory and a professional kitchen. The director of the Bread Lab, Dr. Stephen Jones, is currently one of the most influential voices in the food world. Jones is determined to bring diversity to the range of flours widely available. Currently, the bland, chalky white flour born of industrial agriculture is found in almost all the bread sold in America. You won’t find much else at your local supermarket either. By breeding heritage grains that have both taste and nutritional benefits, but that also have the robustness that farmers need to produce high yield crops, Jones hopes to make regional grain farming viable again. 

The flour available in most grocery stores comes from wheat that has been bred to be optimal for a fast-food hamburger bun. A hundred years ago that wasn’t the case. A diverse range of heritage wheats were grown and milled in communities across America. Between 1890 and 1930 America went from over 22,000 flour mills to less than 200. The State of Washington had 160. Now there are two. The widespread use of new roller mills that could efficiently strip the grain of both the bran and the germ created a flour that had an almost indefinite shelf life ushered in this change. This coincided with the rise of the industrial production of food. We got sliced bread in plastic bags and the phrase, “The greatest thing since sliced bread.” However, we lost a wide range of regional flours milled from an incredible range of wheats, many of which had much better flavor than what worked best for industrial bakeries. Not to mention nutrition. Jones writes, “By using only the white portion of the seed, wheat is reduced from a nutrient-dense food to one that lacks basic nutrition.” 

When I started Macrina in 1993, it was thrilling to be part of the artisan bread movement that brought French and Italian-style breads to many cities in America. I’m even more excited about the heritage grain movement—so much so that I’m growing heritage wheat on my Vashon Island farm this yearSeeing grain scientists, farmers and bakers unite around the idea of building a better tasting and healthier bread may just be the greatest thing since sliced bread.  

Cafe Flora & Floret: Always Fresh and Exciting

Like flowers in spring, new restaurants are blossoming in Seattle. We have nearly 3,000 restaurants now, up more than 25 percent from a decade ago. Not many of them were around 28 years ago. And of those that were, few still feel as contemporary as Cafe Flora, the beloved Madison Valley ode to fresh Northwest produce. Cafe Flora was farm-to-table before that phrase became ubiquitous. 

Cafe-Flora

A couple of years ago, Cafe Flora’s owner, Nat Stratton-Clarke, became interested in opening a second location. He looked at Capitol Hill and Ballard. But then an intriguing and unusual opportunity arose: Sea-Tac Airport. In February of 2018, Nat opened Floret by Cafe Flora. The 2,000-square-foot restaurant is located by the Delta lounge between terminals A and B. There is a full-service restaurant that seats 80 and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. For those on the run, it offers coffee, pastries and healthy grab-and-go options, including hot meals. Floret has been busy since day one. 

 

Floret Shop

Floret: New Challenges Arise

Even though it’s in the airport, Floret is in a beautiful, light-filled atrium, making it reminiscent of the conservatory feeling one gets at Flora. “I wanted it to feel like Flora—and natural light is a big part of that,” says Nat“When the space became available, I really felt like it was the right one for us to bid on.” 

Floret

Like Cafe Flora, Floret serves vegetarian and vegan food, much of it made from produce freshly delivered from local farms. Nat says, “So many people are excited about good food. Most of our guests aren’t vegetarian. They’re just excited about something delicious to eat that happens to be vegetarian.” 

Floret Food

Because it’s the airport, all employees and vendors must go through security. “We had to get our farmers badged,” Nat says. “Fresh deliveries are so much a part of what we do at Flora, and we weren’t going to change just because there are a few more hurdles.”  

Floret Pinwheel

There have been logistical challenges, besides security. The airport is open 365 days a year—rain, sleet or snow. During the snows this past February, many employees stayed at an airport hotel so they could be there to prepare for the 4:30 a.m. opening. “Macrina was right there with us delivering bread and getting everything out there no matter how much snow was coming down,” Nat says. “Folks who were delayed stayed for breakfast, lunch and dinner—which was amazing. We had to close at Cafe Flora. There’s no option to close at the airport. That was new to us and we rallied together to find solutions.” 

Nat Stratton-Clarke

Nat is an avid Farmers Market shopper and market produce always finds its way onto the menu. “I love it in Seattle this time of year, when the city embraces nettles and fiddlehead ferns,” Nat says. “Other cities might hold out for asparagus and strawberries, but we get excited early. Ready for that fresh green. As much as we all love a root vegetable, by March we’re ready to say farewell to butternut squash for a couple of months. We love that bright green flavor you get from nettles. We were just talking in the kitchen about nettle pesto to go with gnocchi. Things like that are one of the really cool things about spring in the Northwest.” 

Floret Sandwich

Whether you’re on your way somewhere or looking for a great meal in the city, Cafe Flora and Floret are great dining options. You’ll enjoy exquisitely prepared meals made with produce delivered fresh daily from farms such as Local Roots in CarnationTonnemakers in Woodinville, Whistling Train Farm in Kent, and Hayton Farms in Skagit Valley. It’s no mystery why Cafe Flora is still going strong after 28 years and Floret has found such a following at Sea-Tac. 

Mammoth: Delicious Sandwiches and Beer

Hot sandwiches and cold microbrews (48 taps!) in Eastlake 

Mammoth is a mash-up of your favorite old-school sandwich joint and your favorite taproom. The airy space has a high vaulted ceiling that brings in the light, a long white-tiled bar counter lined with beer taps (and cider and wine), and a dozen or so tables.

By day, the vibe is fast and casual, with diners enjoying a hearty lunch or grabbing a sandwich to go. By night, it’s a mix of families enjoying dinner and beer nerds savoring the many microbrews on tap or from the extensive bottle collection. In fair weather, there is also outdoor seating. Maybe best of all, the prices are more than reasonable–especially considering the hearty portions and premium ingredients.  

Hannah and Grant Carter, the wife and husband duo behind Ballard’s Bitterroot BBQ, opened Mammoth just over four years ago. The passion project honors their favorite old-school sandwich joint in Missoula and their love of the local craft beer movement. Mammoth is the kind of place to kick back with a good friend or two. You can savor a hard-to-find pint of something local and fill up on food that finds the sweet spot between exacting and unfussy. Take the Predator, for example. Served on warm Macrina Pane Francese bread, they fill it with a fried chicken leg, roasted pork belly, swiss cheese, roasted red peppers, arugula and slather it with caper aioli. The chicken and pork belly are crisp, the bread tender but crusty enough to stand up to the juicy ingredients, and the peppers, arugula and aioli pack in the flavor. You’ll need plenty of napkins, or go to work with a knife and fork if that’s your style.  

We’re a family-owned business with a small staff of long-tenured employees,” says John Connolly, Mammoth’s General Manager. The many Eastlake regulars add to the comfortable, familial atmosphere. A diverse range of ages fill the place in the evenings, from hipsters who’ve made it their favorite watering hole to families enjoying dinner.  

Many of the meats are made in-house, including some that emerge from Bitterroot’s smoker such as their pulled pork. Tender roast beef is made on-site as is corned brisket, which plays a starring role in the Irish Elk, their spin on the classic Reuben. Vegetarians will also find plenty to excite the appetite. One sandwich features marinated tofu, another roasted wild mushrooms, and one has fried eggplant. Mammoth serves all sandwiches on Macrina bread with a side of homemade potato chips made fresh in their kitchen. 

Next time you’re in Eastlake—and isn’t Eastlake on the way to everywhere—drop into your new favorite neighborhood sandwich joint. You’ll sate your appetite, find a new favorite beer, and, if you’re so inclined, you can take a growler home for later.  

Menu, hours and catering info are available at mammothseattle.com. 

Mammoth |2501 Eastlake Ave E. | 206-946-1065 

April Recipe of the Month: Fried Egg Sandwich

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Fried Egg Sandwich

Macrina Bakery & Cafe Fried Egg Sandwich

The hens on my Vashon Island farm provide me with so many lovely eggs that I’m always looking for new ways to use them. One easy favorite of mine is a fried egg sandwich. This recipe is the one we use on our brunch menu at Macrina — our best-selling brunch item for years! I sampled fried egg sandwiches in San Francisco, Portland, Bainbridge Island and Seattle, before settling on this delicious combination. Add a few slices of your favorite bacon to this sandwich and it takes it to the moon!

Ingredients:

Fried Egg Sandwiches:

Makes 4

1 medium red onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper, freshly ground
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 loaf Rustic Potato bread, sliced
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
4 slices Muenster cheese
8 eggs
1 cup spicy tomato sauce

Spicy Tomato Sauce:

Makes 1 cup

1 dried pasilla pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon ground coriander
6 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Fried Egg Sandwiches:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Peel onion and cut lengthwise into 8 wedges. Place the wedges on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20–25 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Remove from the oven and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Set aside to cool.

Cut eight 1/2″ slices of our Rustic Potato bread and lightly butter one side of each slice, using approximately 4 tablespoons.

Place two slices of bread, buttered side down, in a nonstick or cast iron skillet over medium heat. Spread one slice with 1-1/2 teaspoon of Dijon and top the other with a slice of cheese.

While the bread is sautéing, add 1/2 tablespoon of the remaining butter to another nonstick pan over medium heat. Add two eggs, season to taste with salt and pepper, and fry each side to desired preference (for over-medium eggs about 1.5 minutes on each side). On the slice of bread that was spread with mustard, layer the eggs, a quarter of the roasted onions and 1/4 cup of warm spicy tomato sauce. Top with the other slice of bread, transfer to a plate and cut in half to eat more easily. Repeat to make the remaining three sandwiches.

Spicy Tomato Sauce

Place the dried pasilla pepper in a small bowl, cover with boiling water and soak for 10 minutes. Drain well and let cool, then remove the core and seeds from the pepper. Coarsely chop and set aside.

Place the olive oil in a medium saucepan and heat to medium –low. Add the onions. Cook covered for 5 minutes or until the onions become translucent. Stir in the garlic, cumin and coriander. Cook for another 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and pasilla pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in cilantro. Season to taste with salt and pepper. This sauce is best used warm.

Enjoy!

Meet Natalie Godfrey, Macrina’s Wholesale Sales Assistant Manager

Wholesale Sales Assistant Manager

One of the best ways to audition potential sales managers is to observe them in action—selling products that aren’t your own. That is just how we came across Natalie Godfrey. Leslie Mackie was in Walla Walla to meet with some of the farmers who grow wheat for Macrina Bakery. After a long, hot day, much of it spent in the field, Leslie dropped by the tasting room at Tamarack Cellars. A handful of Macrina employees joined her. At the time, Natalie worked there as a sales associate. 

“When I met Natalie at Tamarack Cellars,” Leslie says,  “I was impressed with her vast and descriptive knowledge of the wines she was selling. She took them very seriously and shared detailed stories about the wines. Her approach was so genuine and enthusiastic that she drew all of us in. We bought a bunch of wine to take home.” 

Natalie attended high school on Bainbridge Island, which is where she first tasted Macrina’s breads. “My mom brought home Macrina bread from Town and Country all the time,” she says. Whitman College and a degree in rhetoric studies had pulled Natalie to Walla Walla, but she entertained the idea of returning to the Seattle area. At the tasting, the whole Macrina team agreed that Natalie had a natural talent for selling products so Leslie left Natalie her business card. 

Natalie decided to move back to Seattle and called Leslie who was delighted to hear from her. “The sales team is the face of Macrina,” Leslie says. “If Natalie shared a similar connection with our breads and pastries as she did with the Tamarack wines, I knew she’d be a perfect fit.” 

”When I called Leslie to ask her about a job,” Natalie says, “she emphasized how Macrina invests in their employees and offers so many opportunities for them to be nurtured by others and to grow. She was honest, and I felt like it would be a good company to work for—one that I wanted to work for!” 

Natalie started working for Macrina in January as the Wholesale Sales Assistant Manager, joining Amy Bui, General Manager of Wholesale Sales, and Fanny Alvarado, Wholesale Manager, to make up our sales team. Amy has been showing her the ropes. “Natalie has already proven to be a great fit for the role, and I look forward to working with her,” Amy says. 

“I’ve learned so much already—about bread, sales, and hard-working people—and am inspired by it all. I love how Macrina is a community of inspiring, diverse individuals who all seem united by their love of bread,” Natalie says.  

Becoming Certified: Four of Macrina Bakery’s Breads Are Officially Organic

PCC Whole Grain Baguette

For years we’ve been using more and more locally milled whole grain and whole wheat flours in our breads, all of which are organic. They just taste better. Until our recent collaboration with PCC Community Markets on our organic Whole Grain Baguette, we hadn’t considered going through the official certification process. Sharing PCC’s dedication to local organic farms, we decided it was time to make it official for our breads that already feature 100% organic ingredients: Whole Grain Baguette, Skagit Sourdough, Sour White, and Sour White Ficelle 

Organic Cairnspring Mills Flour

Becoming certified is no small feat. The USDA’s National Organic Program sets the standards. Foods that are certified organic are based on farming methods that don’t rely on toxic pesticides, and that maintain soil fertility and replenish it with only natural fertilizers. Independent third-party officials routinely inspect organic farms and processing facilities to ensure they are meeting all USDA organic standards. Not only is it good for the local ecosystem, but it often produces the best tasting food. 

Organic Cairnspring Mills Flour

We worked with Quality Assurance International (QAI) to obtain our certification. First, we had to ensure that every ingredient, from farm to supplier, is organic and handled in strict accordance with all USDA organic standards. We also had to be sure that all of our internal processes met the same USDA qualifications. There can be no risk of cross-contamination with non-organic ingredients, which meant designing an organic-only section of our bakery, a dedicated organic-only mixer, strict tracking procedures for all ingredients, and an exhaustive cleaning process for our ovens before baking our organic loaves.  

We received our official organic certification on December 26, 2018, it took about six months to make it official. Blake Gehringer, Macrina’s Food Safety General Manager, oversaw the intensive process. The application alone was 30 pages. Then a great deal of thought had to go into everything from color-coded storage containers to new baker’s couches and intensive training for all of our bakers. 

Skagit Sourdough

I’m proud of our decision to certify these breads as organic. Walking through the wheat fields at the Williams Hudson Bay Farm, one of the largest Certified Organic and Salmon-Safe farms in the region located near Walla Walla, it’s hard not to be humbled by their dedication to organic farming. It’s not the easiest way to do things, but it ensures a healthy and sustainably grown product and promotes soil and water conservation. We’re also fortunate that we have local mills, such as Cairnsprings Mill and Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill, that can produce small-batch organic flours for us. And most of all, I’m excited our customers and partners are interested in quality artisan organic products.  

Leslie 

Lamb Meatball & Cabbage Soup

There’s just something about hot soup that satisfies the soul on those long dark evenings of winter and early spring. I often keep a stockpot simmering, making rich broth from leftover bones and vegetables. I use it for light and refreshing soups meant to tease the appetite, and some (like this one) that are nourishing, hearty meals all on their own.

Classic Italian wedding soup often features the “marriage” of meatballs with greens. My recipe takes this wholesome marriage to heart and gives a nod to St. Patrick’s Day by combining lamb and cabbage. The meatballs add richness to the flavorful broth, while the cabbage adds sweetness. There’s nothing better on a chilly evening than dipping a slice of buttered crusty Macrina bread into this lovely soup. No one will believe you spent less than an hour making it!

Ingredients

Serves 5

Meatballs

1 pound ground lamb
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
2 eggs

Soup and Assembly

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup shallots, finely diced
2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
4 cups green cabbage, thinly sliced
6 cups chicken stock
Cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh mint, chopped
1 Macrina loaf

Directions

Meatballs

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Add all the meatball ingredients to a medium bowl. Mix with a spoon until thoroughly combined. Scoop out 20 meatballs that are about 1-1/2″ and place them 2″ apart on the lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes until they are golden brown in color and firm to the touch. Let cool while you prepare the soup.

Soup and Assembly

Add the olive oil to a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and cook for about 2 minutes. When the shallots are translucent in color, add the tomatoes and garlic and cook for 3 minutes until the tomatoes begin to break down. Add the cabbage and cook for another 3 minutes to sweat the cabbage. Add the chicken stock and cracked black pepper to taste. Simmer for 20 minutes, skimming off any foam that forms on the surface of the broth. Add the meatballs and cook for another 10 minutes.

Divide meatballs (4 per bowl) and soup between the 5 bowls. Garnish with mint and serve with your favorite crusty Macrina loaf. Enjoy!

The State of our Wheat: A Historical Perspective

At Macrina, we are increasingly turning to freshly-milled local flours. Both of our newest loaves, the Skagit Valley Sourdough and our Whole Grain Baguette sold at PCC Natural Markets, are made exclusively with locally grown wheat and freshly-milled flours.   

Photo Courtesy of Joe Drazan and the Bygone Walla Walla Project

Twenty miles to the northeast of Walla Walla is the small town of Waitsburg, once a mill town. Now, it’s better known as a side trip for epicures out on a food and wine tour of Walla Walla. A summer drive there takes you through some of the most scenic wheat country: soft undulating Palouse hills covered in golden wheat, glimpses of the distant blue mountains, a gently winding road, and weathered grain silos.  

The History of Mills

Until 2009, the old mill loomed at the end of Main Street. Then, it burned to the ground in a mysterious fire. The mill was just one of the three early mills still standing in the state when it disappeared. At one time, there were nearly 160 mills in Washington State. The mill that Sylvester M. Wait built in 1865 preceded the town that grew up around it, employing generations of millworkers until it closed in 1957. 

Photo Courtesy of Joe Drazan and the Bygone Walla Walla Project

Though not native to the state, wheat thrives in Washington. It was first planted at the Hudson Bay trading post at Fort Vancouver in the 1820s. Early settlers learned that the soil and the climate made for abundant harvests. As the state’s population boomed, new arrivals filled every corner in Washington, and they planted wheat. But what grew well in Skagit Valley was different than what suited the drier climates of Walla Walla County. An incredible diversity of wheat flourished statewide. By the 1880s, transcontinental railway lines pushed through Washington, and mills like the one in Waitsburg could finally get their inexpensive, high-quality wheat to the bigger populations West of the Cascades. Still, local mills in the coastal regions continued to grind local grain, and many small farms across the state grew a variety of grains, some for flour, some for feed. 

The local mill was pushed to the point of extinction by turn-of-the-century technological change that ushered in a commodity flour with a very long shelf life. One by one, the local mills folded and wheat production became increasingly centralized. By the time the Waitsburg mill closed, it was one of the few early rural mills still operating.  

Photo Courtesy of Joe Drazan and the Bygone Walla Walla Project

Wheat breeders refined wheats for high yields and ease of processing. By 2005, there were only two operating flour mills in Washington State, both producing primarily commercial-grade white flour. The effort to create uniform flours that didn’t spoil created vast quantities of flour, but also took much of the flavor and nutrition from our flour and the products made with it. 

Local Wheat Renaissance

Fortunately, we are in the midst of a local wheat renaissance driven by the artisan bread movement and the invaluable research, wheat breeding, and educating done by Dr. Stephen Jones and his team at the Bread Lab located in Skagit Valley. We have mills specializing in grinding whole grain heritage wheats popping up, including Cairnspring Mills, in Skagit Valley, and the Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill, in Burlington. Both produce excellent fresh, stone-ground flour with superior flavor, nutrition and baking properties. At Macrina, we are increasingly turning to freshly-milled local flours. Both of our newest loaves, the Skagit Valley Sourdough and our Whole Grain Baguette sold at PCC Natural Markets, are made exclusively with locally grown and freshly-milled flours.   

The Waitsburg Mill may not come back, nor many of the small, forgotten wheat towns. However, the diverse flours they once produced are returning for the same reason early settlers planted wheat everywhere: the taste that freshly milled whole grain flours provide. 

Leslie 

A Valentine’s Day Treat: Chocolate Cherry Almond Heart Bread

Chocolate Cherry Almond Heart Bread

One of my favorite things about Valentine’s Day is that we get to make our Chocolate Cherry Almond Heart Bread. This bread is inspired by a Greek Christmas bread I began baking in Macrina’s early days. It has evolved into one of my favorite Valentine’s Day gifts. The aroma coming from our ovens while it is baking is irresistible— sweet and buttery mixed with the scent of cherries and bittersweet chocolate, and that hint of brandy is the kicker. We bake the golden-brown bread in the shape of a heart. I warm it up slightly before serving and have difficulty restraining myself from eating the whole loaf.

For those who don’t eat the entire thing in one sitting, or are looking for how best to use this bread, I have a few suggestions:

Chocolate Cherry Almond French Bread

1. This loaf makes incredible French toast served with fresh raspberries, maple syrup or a drizzle of chocolate ganache and slightly sweetened whipped cream.

2. Sauté one-inch slices with butter until caramelized to a golden brown. Serve warm drizzled with chocolate ganache and slightly sweetened whipped cream.

3. For a decadent dessert, toast one-inch slices and serve them with rich chocolate or vanilla ice cream and top with plumped dried cherries and drizzle of chocolate sauce

4. For a savory treat, cut half-inch slices and sauté in butter to golden brown and top with a slice of brie. The heat of the bread will warm the brie.

Our Cherry Almond Heart Bread is available at our cafés through Valentine’s Day.

Enjoy!

Leslie

February Recipe of the Month: Wine and Roses Chocolate Cake

Wine and Chocolate Rose Cake

If you are looking for something decadent for Valentine’s Day (or any dinner party), this is it. This Wine and Roses Chocolate Cake is beautiful, intensely chocolaty, and wonderfully easy to make. Top it with lightly sweetened whipped cream and serve it with love.

This recipe is inspired by our Chocolate Rose Gianduja cake that Macrina makes for Valentine’s Day, which alternates layers of hazelnut and flourless espresso cake with a hint of rose water. This make-at-home version takes Auguste Escoffier’s mantra “Faites simple” (keep it simple) to heart. It will appeal to the tastes of the most refined epicurean, but anyone with basic baking skills can make it.

The rose water plays off the depth of flavor from the red wine in the chocolate glaze. It’s a lovely combination for a sweet Valentine’s Day treat! For a special presentation, garnish the cake with homemade sugared rose petals, or you can buy candied rose petals at some specialty kitchen stores, or online.

Ingredients

10″ Cake • Serves 10 (but suitable for just 2!)

Cake

1 cup unsalted butter
8 ounces Guittard semisweet chocolate
1-1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 eggs
3/4 teaspoon rose water

Glaze

1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup + 1 tablespoon red wine
1 organic rose
1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 325º. Brush a 10″ spring-form pan with melted butter. Then cut a parchment paper circle to cover the base and a 3″ band to line the sides.

Place the semisweet chocolate and the butter in a saucepan. Then make a bain-marie (or double-boiler) by setting it atop another saucepan filled with 2″ water. With the water simmering, continually stir the mixture. When completely melted, remove chocolate mixture and allow to cool.

Sift the sugar and cocoa powder into a stand-mixer bowl. Using the paddle attachment at medium speed, add eggs 2 at a time until they are fully incorporated. Scrape sides of bowl. With the mixer running at low speed, add the melted chocolate and rose water in a slow stream. Scrape sides of bowl again. Increase mixer to medium-high for 2 minutes. The mixture will become lighter in color and more aerated.

Transfer cake batter to the prepared spring-form pan. Level batter and bake for 25-30 minutes. Pull it out when the top is firm but just before it cracks. This cake can crack easily because eggs are the leavening agent.

Let cake cool for 30 minutes and prepare glaze in that time.

In a medium saucepan, scald the cream and turn off the heat. Add the chocolate chips and whisk until fully melted. Add the red wine and allow the glaze to cool to room temperature.

Pour glaze in the center of the cake and spread across the top, leaving the edges uncovered. Separate the rose petals, preserving the center core. Scatter petals around the perimeter of the cake, placing the core in the center. Use a fine sifter to dust the rose petals and cake edges with powder sugar.

This is an intensely chocolaty cake, and it is best enjoyed with slightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh raspberries.

Enjoy!