Sweet Week


Macrina’s head pastry chef, Mi Kim, has a visible presence in our cafes—in the cakes, the croissants, brioche, cookies, and much more—but you rarely see her in person since she’s usually busy in the kitchen turning croissant dough by hand, making Pate a Choux, or putting her artistic touch on a wedding cake. But with Seattle’s Sweet Week approaching, and a recent feature article in bake, a leading trade magazine for members of the baking industry, she’s in the spotlight.

Sweet Week, in its second year, is a little like restaurant week, but a lot sweeter. For a full week, beginning this coming Monday, September 14th, through Sunday, September 20th, at participating restaurants and bakeries, you’ll find special $5 items and samplers not ordinary on the menus. Mi Kim created this years’ Macrina offering, the Mini Banana Cake. It features layers of banana cake and chocolate cake filled with roasted bananas, whipped cream, and glazed with ganache. Mi Kim says, “This cake has it all. Delicious layers of chocolate and banana cake, bananas roasted with rum and sugar that turns into a bit of a caramel, and whipped cream to lighten it all up!” The new cake is so good that once Sweet Week is over, Macrina will continue to offer it throughout the fall.

Mi Kim also has an entertaining and instructive blog, A Piece of Mi, filled with sweet and savory recipes, baking insights, and bits of her life.

We have all enjoyed taste testing Mi Kim’s new cake around here, I hope you get to enjoy our new Mini Banana Cake soon.

Leslie Mackie


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.


Farm to Brunch: Touring Seattle Tilth

logoEarly this June I visited Seattle Tilth’s farm incubator in Auburn with Marilyn Mercer, Elizabeth Hall, Mandela Turner, and Crystal Kitchin, Macrina’s brunch team. We were especially excited to visit the farm – Macrina is one of the lucky few establishments that buys freshly grown vegetables from Seattle Tilth for our weekly rotating brunch menus.

Seattle Tilth started in 1978 with its Urban Agriculture Center in Wallingford. The Tilth Association began as an alternative agriculture movement with the aim of supporting and promoting biologically sound and socially equitable agriculture in the Pacific Northwest. While the parent association disbanded in 1984, Seattle Tilth has continued to grow and thrive with a stated mission today to inspire and educate people to safeguard our natural resources while building an equitable and sustainable local food system. They teach people to grow food organically while taking care of the environment through a wide variety of classes, programs, and community events. There are classes for both kids and adults, many of them located in Seattle’s most diverse and densely populated urban neighborhoods. They’re an amazing resource for organic gardening education in the region.


One of their newer programs is the farm incubator.  Matthew McDermott, the director of Seattle Tilth Farm Works, and Chris Iberle, the Food Hub Manager, led us on our tour of their forty-acre site in Auburn. They call it “The Red Barn Farm.”  While we walked through the fields of young starts, Matthew filled us in on the history of the land. Originally owned by former Seattle Supersonics Greg Ballard, who bought the land for a kid’s basketball camp, it was later donated to Seattle Parks and Recreation. They make it available to Seattle Tilth Farm Works as part of their Parks Urban Food Systems program.

The program provides farm business training and support to immigrants, refugees and people with limited resources in South King County. Each year they add ten new farmers to their training program that runs from February to June, reserving ten spots for returning farmers. Their aim is to help new farmers get into small farming, teaching them not just the elements of organic farming through hands-on experience, but also business planning, operations, and marketing. Matthew explains that the average age of an American small farmer is 60 years old. They hope to lower that through their program.


Each of the twenty farmers tends a quarter-acre parcel, growing vegetables for Seattle Tilth’s CSA subscription program that provides subscribers with a weekly box full of fresh, delicious produce from June through October. The farm also supplies the fresh produce for their Good Food Bag program, which helps supply healthy organic vegetables to qualifying limited-resource families. We saw peas, radishes, onions, garlic, corn, squash, and pole-beans. In addition to the open fields they have 13 100-foot hoop houses, most of them planted with tomatoes. Due to the low snow pack this year and the possibility of a drought they mandated a water irrigation system. To supplement their water supply, they have a large cistern that collects rainwater. At the end of our tour, we stopped by the cleaning station where the farmers wash and trim their veggies, weighing their daily harvest and logging it onto the weekly production board.

French Toast

It feels good to be a part of a program that is training young farmers in the best practices for sustainable and environmentally sensitive farming. Moreover, their produce is simply delicious. Visit one of our Macrina cafe locations over the weekend and try something off of our rotating brunch menu to see for yourself.

Leslie Mackie

Pumpkin, Spice & Everything Nice

Cozy scarves, crisp leaves and piles of orange pumpkins, that’s what fall is made of. Judging from local breweries, coffee shops, and supermarket shelves, we’re not alone in our love of pumpkin. Spiced with cinnamon, sweetened with brown sugar, or blended with butternut squash, pumpkin-spiked pastries and pies have taken over our Autumn Menu. With so many to choose from, we bet you can find a favorite for any time of day.

Pumpkin Cranberry Muffin & Vegan Pumpkin Scone

Fall Menu

The sun may not be up when we climb out of bed, but the promise of pumpkin keeps us from hitting the snooze button. Both of these breakfast staples are topped with a sprinkle of sugar and toasted pumpkin seeds for extra texture and flavor. Pair them with a cup of Caffé Umbria coffee or a Mocha to kick-start your morning.

Brown Sugar Pumpkin Spice Cupcake & Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie

Fall Menu

When the afternoon lull sets in, the combination of chocolate and pumpkin or spiced cake and brown sugar buttercream will put some bounce back in your step. Teamed up a cupcake or cookie with our cold-brewed iced coffee and sail through the rest of your day.

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Cranberry Compote & Pumpkin Pie Bar

Pumpkin Pie Bar

These desserts were so popular last holiday season, we knew we had to bring them back. Our silky cheesecake and signature bars are full of autumn flavors and intriguing enough to set themselves apart from the pack. Pick one up to enjoy after dinner with a cup of hot cocoa.

Pizza Bianca: A New Lunch Favorite

Pizza Bianca

Adorned with dimples, flakes of sea salt and just a hint of fresh rosemary, Pizza Bianca is the latest addition to our Lunch Menu. With its chewy exterior and bubbles throughout the crumb, it’s perfect for soaking up sandwich spreads. Inspired by co-owner Matt Galvin’s favorite lunch when he lived in Italy, this bread is a new house favorite at Macrina.

“Our Pizza Bianca is closer to a thin, airy focaccia,” says Leslie Mackie. “It is a very simple but habit-forming obsession. It is so versatile as it is so good used as a sandwich bread – grilled or not – or eaten plain, dunking it in a favorite hummus or Tuscan Bean Spread.”

Pizza Bianca and Schiacciata are very similar and some may refer to each as the same. Our Schiaccatta was made with a larger amount of olive oil and flavored with freshly chopped herbs, giving it an almost flaky texture. Leslie was looking for something lighter for our sandwiches and played around with a Pizza Bianca recipe until it was just right.

Now you can enjoy this bread as part of our lunch sandwich rotation. This week we’re layering it with roasted artichoke hearts, zucchini, Mama Lil’s peppers, provolone, organic field greens and Tuscan White Bean Spread for our Verdure Sandwich.

To Gluten or Not to Gluten

gluten_free_biscuit Macrina Bakery & Cafe Seattle

Macrina’s Gluten-Free Biscuit

Now that March’s National Flour Month is over, we’d like to honor our gluten-free friends with a tribute to treats without the grain that gives them grief.

Gluten, Latin word for glue, is a protein found in all forms of wheat (durum, semolina, spelt, kamut, einkorn, and faro) and other grains including rye, barley, and triticale. Ideal for baked goods, gluten makes the dough spongy and elastic, giving it the strength and consistency needed to retain its shape and fluffiness. It is also used as a stabilizing agent in food products such as soup, ice cream, salad dressing, and ketchup.

Gluten can be difficult for some people’s systems to process. How do those of you with gluten sensitivity live in a “gluten-ous” world? Very carefully. It’s challenging to bake without wheat flours at Macrina – we love and rely on them for our breads. But we have figured out a few ways to delight our gluten-free* friends who visit our cafes.

Gluten-Free Biscuit
A version of our lightly sweetened cream biscuit made with gluten-free corn flour, tapioca flour, gluten-free flour, sugar, baking powder, xantham gum, salt, and heavy cream, topped with marionberry freezer jam.

Our chewy coconut cookie in chocolate or vanilla.

Ganache Cupcake
Rich flourless chocolate cake filled with raspberry preserve and glazed with dark chocolate ganache.

Banana Cake
One layer of our rich flourless chocolate cake sandwiched between two layers of moist banana cake filled with roasted bananas and white chocolate buttercream, topped with dark chocolate ganache glaze.

Banana Cupcake
Moist banana cake topped with whipped chocolate ganache.

Bittersweet Chocolate Gateau
Velvety flourless chocolate cake baked with swirls of raspberry preserves and dusted with powdered sugar.

Torta Gianduja
Six layers of rich torta featuring layers of chocolate espresso cake and chocolate hazelnut cake, glazed with bittersweet chocolate ganache and decorated with hazelnuts.

One of each, you say? Even those of us who can tolerate gluten enjoy our gluten-free treats. Call your nearest location to find out what gluten-free products are currently available in the pastry case. We will continue to expand our gluten-free offerings…stay tuned.

*Macrina Bakery is not a gluten-free facility; cross-contamination may occur during the baking process.