Meet Eric Holstad: Reporting and Systems Manager

“It’s very inspirational to see the passion for the products and to see how well everyone works together here,” says Eric Holstad, Macrina Bakery’s Reporting and Systems Manager. In his role, he deals with every facet of Macrina’s operations from the executive team and sales to production and delivery.

Eric is a natural when it comes to understanding technology and ensuring that it works for everyone else. He manages the software that powers our wholesale operation and prepares key reports that our leadership team can use to optimize our performance. Eric’s analytical skills mesh well with those of Macrina’s President, Scott France. “I really appreciate Scott’s critical thinking skills and the logical thought process behind how he does things,” Eric says.

Another reason Eric is a treasured colleague is that when you have a computer or server issue in the office, he is the magician who makes the problem vanish.

Before coming to Macrina full-time in 2019, Eric worked for Pagliacci Pizza for 17 years. He started in the stores, rising to a general manager before being recruited to the office where his computer skills and attention to detail were needed.

“I love working with Leslie,” Eric says. “Her enthusiasm brings everyone along and gets you pumped about what we’re doing and where we’re going next. And our production and delivery crew is very diverse, much more so than any job I’ve had before, and I think that’s great. It exposes me to new cultures and new kinds of people. I appreciate having that in my life.”

Outside of work, one could define Eric by three deep passions: music, computers and food. He enjoys listening to music and collecting vinyl records of his favorites. “I’m a fan of music in general,” he says. “There’s no genre I wouldn’t listen to. I’m very open when it comes to experiencing music.” When he has time, he plays the bass guitar. But time is limited these days by a relatively new addition to his life: a young daughter. “It’s such a life-changing event to have a child,” he says.

Challah Crowns for the Jewish High Holidays 

At Macrina, we make Challah every Friday, offering it in both plain and poppy seed. We braid three ropes of dough in the European Jewish tradition to represent unity. According to The Book of Jewish Food by Claudia Roden, the three braids stand for truth, peace, and justice, and the poppy seeds represent manna that fell from heaven. We bake our challah loaves to a deep golden mahogany color and a firm crust. The soft, tight crumb pulls apart easily. The shiny, honey-sweetened bread is excellent toasted, turned into delicate french toast, or passed around the table with a meal.

For the Jewish High Holidays, we form our Challah into rounds—or crowns—to recall the cycle of the year, or as Roden characterizes them, “where there is no beginning and no end.” The honey in the crowns represents hopes for a sweet new year. We make our crowns in both plain and studded with raisins.

This year we will be offering our Challah Crowns from September 18–20 to celebrate Rosh Hashanah and September 27–28 to celebrate Yom Kippur. Whether they’re part of your religious tradition, or you just love great bread and the tradition of sharing it with others, stop by one of our cafés and get one of these beautiful, symbolic loaves.

Meet Trevor Kitchin: Food Safety GM

At heart, Trevor is a teacher, his field before coming to Macrina Bakery. As our Food Safety General Manager, Trevor puts those skills to good use. He worked with Blake Gehringer, Macrina’s Production Manager, to establish food safety plans for both retail and wholesale operations. He spends his days training, answering questions, observing, documenting, testing, and continuously learning.

Trevor Kitchen

In 2016, Trevor was hired by Macrina and applied his skills as an educator to food safety, as an assistant manager for three years before taking over the top spot in 2019.

“I love the teaching part and have a lot of patience,” Trevor says. “I recognize where employees are and help them get to the point they need to be.”

Many languages are spoken at our bakery, and all of Trevor’s teaching skills come into play. “I use visual guides and often work through the GM of each department, all of whom can translate,” Trevor says. “When I do formal trainings I hire translators.”

It could be said that Trevor has a rooted interest in food safety that goes beyond the obvious: He’s married to our Retail Operations General Manager, Crystal Kitchin.

Both Crystal and Trevor were born and raised in the Seattle area and are very close to their families. At their wedding, in addition to their extended families, many members of their Macrina family were there to cheer them on—along with a Macrina wedding cake.

Trevor took Crystal boating in the San Juan Islands, one of his favorite places. “She fell in love with the islands as well,” he says. When time permits, they love exploring the islands in the nineteen-foot Cutty Cabin boat. At home, visiting family and spending time with their husky are significant parts of their life.

And the best part of his job (besides Crystal)?

“The people that work at Macrina are fantastic,” Trevor says. “That’s why I work here.”

Meet Jennifer Truong: Macrina’s Wholesale Office General Manager

Born and raised in South Seattle, Jennifer Truong had no desire to leave the city when she graduated from the University of Washington in Environmental Studies. Her job search led to Macrina Bakery, which was hiring Customer Service Representatives. “I was looking for a job to help me pay off my student loans,” Jennifer says. “Office work and the chance to connect with people was great.”

Five years later, Jennifer has grown into the job of Wholesale Office General Manager. “I fell in love with the whole team,” Jennifer says. “They continue to grow me and give me new opportunities. It’s a great environment to work in. “I manage the Customer Service Representatives, making sure we deliver exceptional customer service.”


In addition to taking care of Macrina’s wholesale customers, Jennifer works with production and delivery to ensure they have what they need to execute their jobs.

Jennifer cites Macrina’s Wholesale Manager Fanny Alvarado, and her hard work and management style, as a major influence. “I’ve learned from Fanny to remind myself that this is really a small business. We have the ability to be flexible and adapt to changes as we need to. We learn and grow from our experiences.”

Outside of work, Jennifer loves to get together with Amy Bui, Macrina’s General Manager of Wholesale Sales, and dine out. Often they visit Macrina’s wholesale customers. “I’m definitely a foodie,” Jennifer says.

Crab is a favorite. Summer weekends are often spent dropping the crab pot from her double kayak in the Sound, enjoying a paddle, and returning to see if a crab dinner is awaiting.
Another favorite: Seattle. “I love that I live a short drive from downtown,” Jennifer says. “Or I can go the other direction, and I’m in the mountains. I love the views. I don’t know if I could imagine life without seeing Mount Rainier”

New Product Alert: Macrina Bakery’s Ready-to-Bake Olivia’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough 

There’s just something about that smell of cookies baking in the oven—that irresistible aroma, the building anticipation, the cookies warm and gooey, the melted chocolate and crispy edges. Our new ten-packs of Ready-to-Bake Olivia’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough make it tantalizingly easy to make your own.

We freeze the dough in individual cookie-sized dough balls. You merely preheat the oven, pop them on a tray, and bake. You can make a few at a time or the whole batch at once. What you don’t eat right away will save for four weeks in your freezer but we are guessing they won’t last that long.

They’re so good that Leslie named them after her daughter. Olivia’s Chocolate Chip Cookies are our version of the traditional Toll House classic. A combination of butter and shortening gives the cookies a soft, rich crumb. And the right blend of high-quality semisweet chocolate chips and a hefty pinch of sea salt give them the consummate chocolate chip cookie flavor. Food and Wine even included them in a list of America’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies.

As lovely as they are at the café, they are even better right out of the oven, warm but still gooey. The kits are available at our cafés for $8.99, and available for delivery on DoorDash!

Enjoy!

Pear and Honey Custard Tart

This tart is really easy to prepare, but it is so beautiful your guests will think it took you all day. We often feature it as a special in the café, where the tart’s sweet almond crust has a loyal following. You can also find this recipe in our first cookbook!
Ingredients:

Makes one 10-inch tart

¼ cup whole almonds
1 recipe Sweet Almond Dough at room temperature (recipe below)
3 cups white wine
¾ cup granulated sugar
3 pears, peeled, halved, and cored
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup honey
2 eggs
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon pure almond extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spread almonds on rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool, then finely grind in food processor. Set aside for garnishing the tart.

Using your fingers, press the Sweet Almond Dough into a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom. Form an even crust, about ⅛-inch thick, over the bottom and all the way up the sides of the pan. (It’s important that the crust be the same thickness on the bottom and the sides.) Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

Line the chilled tart shell with a piece of parchment paper and fill it with dried beans or baking weights. Bake on center rack of oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Carefully remove paper and beans and set tart shell aside to cool. Leave the oven on.

Combine wine and sugar in a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes, whisking occasionally. Gently place pears in hot wine, rounded sides down, and poach for 7 to 10 minutes, or until pears are fork-tender. Remove pears with a slotted spoon and set aside to cool. Continue simmering the poaching liquid until it has reduced by half its volume, then set it aside to use as glaze on the finished tart.

Combine cream, honey, eggs, flour, vanilla extract, and almond extract in a medium bowl. Mix well with a whisk.

Place cooled, pre-baked tart shell on a rimmed baking sheet. Slice the poached pears in half again lengthwise and arrange them in the bottom of the tart shell. (At the bakery we like to spread the slices out in a fan-like pattern.) Pour the custard filling over the pears, filling the shell to just below the top. Place baking sheet on center rack of oven and bake for 50 to 55 minutes, or until custard is set and golden brown. Let the tart cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes, then remove the sides of the pan.

Warm the reduced wine glaze over a low heat until it thins, then brush the surface of the tart with a little glaze. Sprinkle ground toasted almonds around the outer edge.

Sweet Almond Dough

This cookie-like dough is easy to make and even easier to work with. Rather than rolling out the dough, you simply press it into the tart pans by hand.

Ingredients:

¼ cup whole almonds
½ cup granulated sugar
1½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon pure almond extract
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Spread almonds on rimmed baking sheet and toast for about 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool, then finely grind in a food processor. Measure out 2 tablespoons of ground almonds and set aside. (The remaining ground almonds will not be needed.)

Combine 2 tablespoons of the ground almonds, sugar, and flour in a medium bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. In a separate bowl, mix together vanilla extract, almond extract and melted butter. Add butter mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix until coarse and crumbly, using your hands to break up any large lumps. The finished dough will stick together when squeezed between your thumb and forefinger.

At this point, the dough is ready to be pressed into a tart ring. It doesn’t need to be chilled. If you’re not ready to bake with the dough, pack it into a ball and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap. The wrapped dough can be stored in the refrigerator for 1 or 2 days, or frozen for up to 1 month. It’s a good idea to double wrap the dough before freezing it.

Frozen Sweet Almond Dough needs to be fully defrosted before it’s used. My preferred method is to transfer the dough to the refrigerator 1 day in advance. Generally this crumbly dough is pressed into tart pans by hand rather than rolled out, but once it has been frozen the dough will be quite firm. In this case, roll the dough out to ⅛-inch thick and fit it into the desired tart pan. The dough will probably crack when you lift it, but don’t worry. Simply pinch the cracks together with your fingers to repair.

 

September Recipe of the Month – Yogurt Honey Fig & Raspberry Tart

This is a version of the wonderful yogurt tart that we’ve served in our retail cafés for years. The creamy yogurt custard, sweetened with honey, rivals any rich pastry cream or sweet cream filling. The slight tartness of the yogurt harmonizes the fresh fruit and honey.

– Leslie Mackie

Ingredients:

Makes one 10-inch tart

1 batch Flaky Pie Dough
3 whole eggs
½ cup honey
2 cups non-fat plain yogurt
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
8 fresh figs, sliced ½-inch thick
2 pints fresh raspberries
1 Tbsp turbinado sugar (raw sugar)
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Tbsp water

Directions:

Make one batch of Flaky Pie Dough. Alternatively, ready-to- bake disks are available for purchase at your neighborhood Macrina. If you choose to make the Flaky Pie Dough recipe, divide the recipe in half to make two disks. Use one for this recipe and freeze the extra for later use. Keep the disk for this recipe refrigerated until you are ready to use it.

On a floured work surface, roll out the Flaky Pie Dough disk so that its diameter is just under 14 inches and it’s approximately ⅛-inch thick. Fold the dough circle in half and lift it onto the 10-inch tart pan, gently pressing it down and around the sides. Roll the overhanging dough into the pan creating a folded edge about ½ -inch above the pan. Press around the edge to get a uniform thickness for even baking. Chill for at least 30 minutes before baking.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Fill the chilled tart shell with a parchment paper liner and pie weights (or dried beans). Bake on the center rack for 35 to 45 minutes. When it’s finished, the sides should be golden brown. Remove the parchment paper and pie weights and let cool.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, cream the eggs and honey together on medium speed for 3 to 5 minutes. Add the yogurt and vanilla and continue to mix for 1 minute.

Sift the all-purpose flour onto a sheet of parchment paper. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly shake the flour into the custard mixture (lift two edges of the parchment sheet so it dips in the middle to transport it to the mixer), allowing it to incorporate without forming lumps. Once all the flour is added, scrape down the sides and the bottom of bowl to ensure all the flour has been incorporated.

Pour the custard into the pre-baked tart shell. Top with two concentric circles of sliced figs and dot with a handful of raspberries. Sprinkle the turbinado sugar over the fruit.

Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Place the tart on a rimmed baking sheet and place on the center rack. Bake for 50 to 55 minutes or until the custard is set. Let cool for 1 hour.

For the raspberry sauce, place the remaining raspberries in a medium saucepan. Add the granulated sugar and water and bring to a boil. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes, slightly breaking up the berries. Let cool.

The tart is best at room temperature topped with a spoonful of raspberry sauce. If needed, you can hold it overnight in the refrigerator and allow it come to room temperature before serving. Enjoy!

Printable PDF here.

September: National Honey Month 

For most beekeepers, September marks the end of the honey collection season. To celebrate and call attention to the importance of honey as a natural sweetener and the essential role honeybees play as pollinators, we’re featuring our favorite products baked with honey all month long. At Macrina, we are proud to partner with the National Honey Board and showcase the many baked goods we make with honey, whose complex caramel sweetness adds a roundness of flavor compared to the narrower flavor profile of sugar.

One of our most popular honey-sweetened products is our Vollkorn Loaf. This moist, hearty loaf is a German-style, full-grain bread blended with a six-grain cereal, toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds. A locally grown organic rye and a beer starter add a pleasantly sour flavor. Honey and molasses lend balance.

In our cafés, we use honey to sweeten our Greek yogurt and layer it with our house-made berry compote. This creates the perfect nutritious fresh-tasting parfait.

Later in September, we will be showcasing our Challah Crowns, both plain and with raisins, to celebrate Rosh Hashanah (September 18–20) and Yom Kippur (September 27– 28). Our Challah is traditional egg bread in the European Jewish tradition. Honey sweetened, this braided loaf has a firm crust a burnished golden mahogany color. The soft, tight crumb pulls apart easily.

Another loaf sweetened that we sweeten with honey is our Whole Wheat Cider pan loaf. It’s excellent texture and flavor make this one of our most popular pan loaves. Apple cider and honey enhance the mild nutty flavor of Shepherd’s Grain whole wheat flour, cracked wheat berries and toasted sesame seeds.

These are just a few products we are showcasing, but we have many other recipes that include honey. Stay tuned throughout September for more featured products that celebrate the importance of our pollinators—and the lovely byproduct of their life-giving labor.

A Community Loaf 

Every bread lover should know about The Bread Lab, the famed research center in Skagit Valley. Dr. Steven Jones runs The Bread Lab, an extension of Washington State University. He is devoted to bringing grain agriculture back to our region and developing healthier and tastier wheat varietals for other parts of the country.

About a year ago, The Bread Lab launched a new initiative: The Approachable Loaf. A collective of artisan bakers, millers, and wheat-breeders have banded together to produce a community loaf that follows guidelines established by The Bread Lab. The goal is to produce a whole-grain loaf of sliced bread at a price that will appeal to a mass audience.

The criteria laid out by The Bread Lab are:

  • Baked in a tin and sliced
  • No more than seven ingredients
  • Contains no non-food
  • At least 60% whole wheat—preferably 100%
  • Priced under $6/loaf
  • 10¢ of every loaf sold returns to The Bread Lab to support further research of other whole grain products

The goal is to provide an alternative to the commodity loaves made from white flour or laced with preservatives produced by national bread companies and that dominate supermarket shelves.

As a long-standing member of Bread Lab’s advisory board, Leslie immediately got to work on an approachable loaf. We think you’ll like the result!

Our Organic Whole Wheat Loaf is a hearty pan loaf that comes sliced and ready for sandwiches. Made from whole grain organic wheat grown on Hudson Bay Farm near Walla Walla, the nutritious bread has excellent texture and flavor. Agave syrup adds just a touch of sweetness. The shelf life is 3–5 days.

With this loaf, we are proud to be joining The Bread Lab Collective. Stop in one of our cafés to grab a loaf. Every loaf sold supports the Bread Lab in their research to improve wheat varieties and support local farmers, leading to better whole grain products.

With this loaf, we are proud to be joining The Bread Lab Collective.

August Recipe of the Month: Cottage Cheese Pancakes with Fresh Berries and Syrup

Sometimes friends come to visit and leave more than just good memories—sometimes they leave recipes. And sometimes those recipes become family favorites. A friend from England gifted me this recipe, and when fresh berries are in season, these cottage cheese pancakes are always in my thoughts. The crisp golden brown edges, the light, tender interior and the savory flavor make them a divine weekend breakfast. Serve them with tart berries and a drizzle of maple syrup and soon you’ll find yourself passing the recipe on to a friend.

– Leslie Mackie

Ingredients:

Serves 6-8

6 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
1¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
¼ tsp kosher salt
3 eggs, separated
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup whole milk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
⅓ cup canola oil (or sunflower oil)
2 pints fresh berries
1 cup maple syrup

Directions:

Melt 3 Tbsp of butter in a small saucepan. Set aside to cool.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Set aside.

Separate the eggs, putting the whites into a stand mixer bowl and the yolks into another medium bowl. Add the cottage cheese, milk and vanilla to the yolks and mix well.

With a whisk attachment, use the stand mixer to whip the whites to a medium-soft texture.

Fold the flour mixture into the yolk mixture in 2 additions. Add the melted butter. Fold in the whipped egg whites, also in 2 additions.

Heat a cast iron pan or skillet over medium heat. Coat the bottom of the pan with oil and scoop in ¼ cup portions of the pancake batter, each spaced about 2 inches apart. Cook for 2 minutes (edges should be deep golden brown), flip and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.

Keep the finished pancakes warm in a preheated oven while you finish the remaining pancakes.

Serve the pancakes topped with the remaining butter, fresh berries and maple syrup. Enjoy!