Employee Recipe Series: Sergio Castaneda’s Vollkorn Grilled Cheese

We’re celebrating our 30th Anniversary by sharing some of our staff’s favorite recipes using Macrina Bakery products.

On a pleasant late spring weekend in South Seattle, Sergio Castaneda and his family gather around the dining table to savor a homemade lunch. As the tantalizing aroma of grilled cheese and tomato soup permeates the room, laughter and engaging conversation become the soundtrack to this delightful meal. Sergio’s Vollkorn grilled cheese, a family favorite, showcases the versatility of Macrina Bakery’s bread.Sergio, our Production Manager at Macrina Bakery and a part of the Leadership Team, began his journey as a driver in 2002. His unwavering dedication and passion for the business led him to climb the ranks, ultimately assuming responsibility for overseeing an extensive team of drivers and packers. With a strong background in food, including experience as a pastry chef, Sergio possesses a wide range of expertise, from dough mixing and baking to customer service. An effective leader, Sergio actively contributes to Macrina’s success by diligently working to enhance his team’s performance and fostering a positive, inclusive work environment.The Vollkorn loaf, a German-style, nine-grain bread, serves as the ideal foundation for Sergio’s delectable grilled cheese. This moist and hearty loaf blends a six-grain cereal with toasted sunflower and pumpkin seeds, creating a delightful crunch. Organic rye and a beer starter provide a pleasantly sour flavor, while honey and molasses lend a complex caramel sweetness. The result is a multipurpose bread that harmonizes with an array of ingredients.Sergio explains, “It is a very simple recipe. What makes it special is the way the light sweetness of the bread, the slight nuttiness of the Gouda, and the creamy mozzarella come together.” He slices the Vollkorn loaf at an angle to increase the surface area, then layers Gouda and fresh mozzarella cheese on the bread. After buttering the exterior sides, he grills the sandwich on a panini press. “In just a few minutes, you have crisp, caramelized bread filled with gooey cheese.”

Sergio’s Vollkorn grilled cheese can be savored on its own as a scrumptious snack or coupled with a steaming bowl of soup for a comforting meal. The nutritious of Macrina Bakery’s Vollkorn loaf elevate this classic dish, making it a cherished favorite in the Castaneda household.

In a world where shared meals create lasting connections, Sergio Castaneda’s passion for food, his love for Macrina Bakery’s bread, and his devotion to his family serve as heartwarming reminders of the significance of quality ingredients and the joy of gathering with loved ones around a table. As the Castaneda family relishes their weekend lunch, it’s evident that life’s simple pleasures are often the most meaningful —  and in this instance, the most delicious.Find recipes like BBQ Chicken Sliders and Summer Panzanella Salad that use Macrina breads and more in our Seasons Cookbook.

Cupcake Giveaway at All Cafes and Fun Events for Kids of All Ages at our New Maple Leaf Café

Our Official 30th Anniversary is Nearly Here!

Mark your calendars for Sunday, August 27 — our official 30th anniversary! To show our gratitude for the support that’s fueled our journey from a single bakery and café in Belltown to our sixth café recently opened in the Maple Leaf neighborhood, we’re giving away our Mini Confetti Cupcake at all Macrina locations on Sunday, August 27 while supplies last. 

But that’s not all! We’re hosting two fun events for kids of all ages that same weekend.

On Saturday, August 26 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., bring your kids and set their creativity free with cupcake decorating at the sidewalk tables outside our new Maple Leaf Café. We’ll have all the essentials: cupcakes, frosting, sprinkles and more.





And on our big day, Sunday, August 27, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., we’ll do the same thing with cookies.

Come join in the fun and celebrate with us!

Employee Recipe Series: Scott France–Summer Evenings at the Grill

We’re celebrating our 30th Anniversary by sharing some of our staff’s favorite recipes using Macrina Bakery products.

On the edge of a languid summer night, the world bathed in a dusky glow, Scott France’s back deck comes alive. In the golden half-light of evening, Scott stands at the grill, tongs in hand, turning thick slices of grill-marked bread ensuring the char is just right. Friends and loved ones gather, their laughter and conversation melding with the scent of sizzling flank steak and grilled vegetables.

These evenings begin with Scott selecting a loaf of Casera and a loaf of Organic Sour White from the bakery at the end of the workday, the anticipation of sharing food and stories with his family and neighbors already on his mind. The process is simple: fire up the grill, marinate the steak, prepare the foil pouches of cauliflower and broccoli, and brush the bread with extra virgin olive oil and salt. “It’s super simple, super quick, and unbelievably delicious,” Scott says, a routine he repeats throughout the summer months.

As president and part-owner of Macrina, Scott is dedicated to providing the finest artisan breads and pastries to the Puget Sound region. With over 250 employees and a reputation as one of the country’s best bakeries, the challenge invigorates him. “Our mission is to enrich our communities through the joy of artisan baking,” he says, and with the new Maple Leaf Café, Scott is excited to bring Macrina to even more people. “We’ve been so excited to open our first café since 2018, and to provide opportunities for the wonderful people who work at Macrina.”

Casera and Sour White were the first two loaves Leslie created 30 years ago when she first opened Macrina’s doors in Belltown. Casera, inspired by the famed Poilâne bakery in Paris, took nearly a year of experimentation with a natural bread starter made from champagne grapes. The result: a coarse-textured loaf with a thick, caramelized crust that is perfect for the grill. The Sour White, on the other hand, boasts a tangy, open crumb and a sturdy crust, with its nutty, sour flavor derived from a wild starter Leslie created in 1993.

As evening deepens, the warm glow of camaraderie fills the air. Plates piled high with grilled meat, bread, and vegetables circulate. “There’s definitely beer involved, too,” says Scott. Specifically, growlers from Georgetown Brewery. The worries of the day pass as the world narrows to this communion of friends savoring the moment and the pleasure of togetherness. Tomorrow will come, but for now, the simple joy of a shared meal lingers long into the summer night.

In a Uganda Refugee Camp, Baking Bread to Heal and Feed

Macrina is donating all net proceeds from sales of our 30th Anniversary Confetti Cupcakes from August 14 – 26 to the ADAM Foundation and Bakery. Our Confetti Cupcakes are a tender butter cake filled with a dollop of huckleberry compote and topped with vanilla buttercream and funfetti sequins.

“I am happy now that I spend most of my days baking, and my nights are peaceful,” said Kareem, an eighteen-year-old refugee who lost his family to violence in Congo. Located near the Oruchinga Settlement Camp in southwest Uganda, the ADAMÂ Bakery serves over 9,000 refugees from East Africa. Jeffrey Hamelman and Mitch Stamm were brought in to train the bakers, a connection that inspired Macrina’s annual support. 

“When the refugees arrive, they are given four eucalyptus poles and a tarp,” says Jeffrey. Mitch adds, “They’ve been stripped of everything except their dignity.” 

With limited equipment, the bakery daily welcomes twenty-four bakers. These bakers not only earn but also distribute a portion of the day’s bread to the camp’s children. “Three-fourths of the bakers are women,” notes Jeffrey. Under the management of Angella Kushemererwa and Sophie Karungi, the bakery ensures that bread reaches the needy children daily. “Handing out the bread is an act of the utmost elation when you see the joy on the faces of the children who get the buns,” Jeffrey emphasizes, but the supply often falls short. 

The goal for the bakery is to become self-sustaining eventually, but for now, keeping it open costs about $5,000 per month. Construction is underway for an adjacent store to sell the bakery’s products, putting it on track to become a self-sustaining business. They’ve also nearly finished construction of a new kitchen and now have running water. 

“We know the needs are endless, but even small contributions benefit a large number of people,” says Scott France, president and co-owner of Macrina Bakery. “We made a significant contribution last year and we hope to top that this year. The money goes directly to the bakery and it makes an incredible impact on the bakers’ lives.” 

Jeffrey adds, “Some people might say you’re training 24 people…this is just wonderful,” but he acknowledges the bigger picture. Reflecting on the impact, he says, “You can tell half our heart is in Uganda. We know that we’ve changed their lives. They don’t know to what extent they’ve changed ours.” 

Order Confetti Cupcakes here and support this wonderful organization!

Peach and Summer Berry Tart

Late summer in the PNW is peak peach and berry season. It’s a joy to harness these seasonal gems in a simple yet delightful tart. The rough puff pastry creates a light, flaky crust that’s an excellent match for the vanilla pastry cream and, of course, the ripe, succulent fruit. Though I often turn to peaches and blackberries for this recipe, feel free to adapt it to the ripest stone fruit and berries you can find — be it plums, nectarines, blueberries or raspberries.
-Leslie Mackie
Printable PDF of this recipe here. 
Makes 4 to 6 servings.

½ cup granulated sugar
2 Tbsp cornstarch
½ tsp kosher salt
4 egg yolks
1¼ cup whole milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp kosher salt
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp cold water, divided
1 egg
Powdered sugar for dusting

4 medium peaches or nectarines*
2 cups seasonal berries
Powdered sugar for dusting
¼ cup warm apricot jam or honey

*Note: I prefer to blanch peaches to remove the skin, but this isn’t necessary with nectarines or other stone fruits.

In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, cornstarch and salt. Add the yolks and whisk to ensure all lumps are dissolved.

Place milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat and gradually ladle the hot milk into the yolk mixture, whisking continuously.

Transfer the mixture back to the saucepan and return to medium heat. Gently warm the pastry cream while whisking for about 3 minutes until it thickens. Be careful to not let it boil to avoid scalding or scrambling the mixture.

Remove from the heat and strain into a metal bowl to remove any lumps. Stir in the vanilla and cover the surface with plastic wrap to prevent the cream from discoloring while cooling. Chill in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 hours.

Cut butter into ⅛-inch slices and keep chilled. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour and salt using the paddle attachment. Add the thin slices of butter and mix on low speed for about 3 minutes or until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Add 2 Tbsp of water all at once and combine until absorbed, about 30 seconds.

Form the dough into a 4-inch x 5-inch rectangle on a sheet of plastic wrap, wrap it up, and chill for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare an egg wash by whisking together the egg and remaining 1 tsp of water. Set aside.

On a floured work surface, roll out dough to make a 12-inch x 7-inch rectangle, approximately ⅛-inch thick.

Along the border of the pastry, cut off a ½-inch strip of dough, brush with egg wash and stack around the perimeter of the crust to create a raised edge. Brush the top of the raised edge with egg wash. Use a fork to poke holes in the dough’s center to prevent air pockets from forming when baking. Chill for another 15 minutes.

Bake for 30 minutes or until golden brown in color. Let cool to room temperature.

Cut stone fruit in ¼-inch slices and set aside.

Dust the pastry shell with powdered sugar, then scoop the chilled pastry cream into the shell and smooth it out evenly.

Arrange the sliced stone fruit decoratively over the pastry cream. Place the berries at the seams for a beautiful presentation. Brush the top with warm apricot jam or honey for a shiny surface.

Serve immediately or refrigerate the tart up to four hours before serving. Enjoy!