OSL & Macrina: Partnering to Make a Difference

Ever wonder how Macrina makes just enough fresh loaves of bread and an assortment of pastries every day to satisfy our customers’ appetites week in and week out? We don’t. We make extra, enough so that though we may run out of some pastries and loaves, a customer who shows up right before closing will still find something satisfying. Additionally, we inevitably wind up with a few misshapen loaves and pastries that don’t meet our standards.  

So, what do we do with what we refer to as fresh overages?  We donate to a handful of food banks and local nonprofits. One of our key partners is OSL. Originally called Operation Sack Lunch, OSL was founded in 1989 with the distribution of 30 sack lunches on the streets of Seattle. Now they serve about 2 million healthy meals to those who struggle with hunger in our community every year. They hire many staff members from their client base and provide an equitable wage and generous benefits designed to combat poverty-level wages. They encourage positive life changes and forward motion.   OSL picks up overages from our cafes and bread production facility in Kent and incorporates the bread and pastries into their meals. “None of Macrina’s pastries last long in our meal lines,” says Abid Choudhury, OSL Operations Director. “They are getting snatched up real fast. They really are a gift.” “We are grateful for our partnership with OSL,” says Leslie Mackie, Macrina’s founder. “They are immediately getting our day-end pastries and breads and making them part of a nutritious, dignified meal for those in our community who are in need of support.” 

Chocolate Raspberry Icebox Cake

Icebox cakes are magic! Layer a few components together, place in the refrigerator, and hours later you have something transcendent — moist, creamy and irresistibly delicious. Icebox cakes gained prominence in the 1920s when companies were promoting a new home appliance — the electric icebox! The cake’s popularity soared when Nabisco included a recipe for an icebox cake on the packaging for their Famous Chocolate Wafers in 1929. Variations proliferated, some with ladyfingers, crisp wafers, and cake, and fillings ranging from Bavarian cream to ice cream to whipped cream. Our spin on the classic makes an elegant Valentine’s Day treat or dessert for your next dinner party. It features chocolate cake, fresh raspberries, Project Barnstorm Raspberry Conserve, and rose scented sweetened whipped cream.
-Leslie Mackie

Printable PDF of the recipe here.
Makes 6-8 servings

2 eggs
¾ cup whole milk
¾ cup canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1¾ cup granulated sugar
1½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
¾ tsp salt
¾ cup boiling water

2 cups heavy whipping cream
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1¼ tsp rose extract

48 fresh raspberries (about 2 pints)
⅔ cup Project Barnstorm Raspberry Conserve (or similar)

½ cup heavy whipping cream
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325°F. Prepare a 9-inch square cake pan by brushing it with oil and lining it with a 9-inch x 14-inch piece of parchment. The overhang will help you lift the cake from the pan after baking.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, canola oil and vanilla extract. Set aside.

Fit a stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Sift the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the stand mixer bowl. Mix on low for 1 minute. With the mixer running at medium speed, add the egg mixture and mix for 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl with a spatula to ensure all is well incorporated. With the mixer running at medium speed, slowly add the boiling water in a slow stream and mix until incorporated (about 30 seconds).

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until the cake is set and a toothpick comes out clean.

Let cool for 30 minutes. Using a paring knife, release the cake on the two unlined sides. Use the parchment edges to carefully lift the cake from the pan. Cutting top down, slice the cake in half. Then cut the two pieces in half horizontally to produce 4 rectangular layers (each roughly three-quarters of an inch thick).

Fit a stand mixer with a whisk attachment and place the heavy whipping cream in the bowl. Sprinkle in the sugar and rose extract. Whisk the cream until it has medium-firm peaks. Set aside.

Place one cake layer on your serving platter. Evenly spread 1/3 cup raspberry conserve on the top of the layer. Top the conserve with fresh raspberries by placing 24 berries, hollow end down, in a loose 6 by 4 grid. Layer a third of the whipped cream over the raspberries and level with a spatula. Top with another cake layer and repeat the same procedure. Top with the third layer and press gently to level the cake. Spread the sides with the remaining whipped cream. Refrigerate for 4 hours.

Use the remaining cake layer to make cake crumbles. Preheat the oven to 325°F. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, break up the remaining cake layer into small pieces. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool. Place the dried cake pieces in the food processor and pulse to make crumbs. Set aside.

To make the ganache, place the heavy whipping cream in a small saucepan and bring it to a boil. Turn off the heat, add the chocolate chips, and whisk until smooth. Let cool for 15 minutes.

Pull the chilled cake from the refrigerator and top it with the ganache. You can spread the ganache just on top or allow it to cascade over the sides, as you wish. Top the ganache with the reserved cake crumbs. Keep the cake refrigerated and serve it chilled. Port, coffee or tea make great accompaniments. Enjoy!

Savory Pinwheel Breakfast Sandwich

Our Savory Pinwheel has a cult following in our cafés. We caramelize sweet onions and fold them into our flaky cornetto dough with parmesan, olive oil, and a mix of sesame, fennel and poppy seeds. It’s excellent on its own, or served warm and spread with whipped cream cheese. This simple recipe featuring tomato confit, Parmesan cheese, eggs and arugula turns it into a wonderful breakfast sandwich.
-Leslie Mackie

Printable PDF of this recipe here.
Makes 2 sandwiches

4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
2 Tbsp onions, small dice
1 tsp garlic, finely chopped
3 medium roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh basil, coarsely chopped
⅛ tsp kosher salt
4 large eggs
2 Macrina Savory Pinwheels, sliced horizontally into halves
12 leaves fresh arugula
3 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated or shaved

Preheat oven to 325°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, add 2 Tbsp of olive oil and the onions. Cook for 2 minutes or until the onions are translucent in color. Add the garlic and chopped tomatoes and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes to break down the tomatoes to make a reduced sauce or confit. Finish the sauce by mixing in the basil and kosher salt; set aside.

In a sauté pan over medium heat, add the remaining 2 Tbsp of olive oil. Crack eggs into a small bowl, slowly pour them into the preheated pan, and top with a sprinkle of kosher salt and black pepper.

With a spatula, divide the eggs into two sections. Cover the pan and continue cooking until the yolks are where you like them.

Lay the halved pinwheels on the lined baking sheet and bake for 3 minutes. To assemble, place the pinwheel bottom on a plate and top with half the tomato confit, 2 eggs, half the arugula and 1½ Tbsp Parmesan cheese. Cover with the pinwheel top. Repeat this process with the second pinwheel.

Enjoy! We recommend using a knife and fork, though some brave it with clean hands and a napkin (or two) nearby.

Almond Bear Claws

Baking homemade pastries for your holiday brunch is intimidating for many home cooks, but this straightforward recipe produces a delicate, golden-brown treat that’s worth the time. The tender, buttery dough is filled with a rich almond paste and topped with a sweet glaze and sliced almonds. If you want to make the dough the night before, let it rise in the refrigerator. In the morning, give it an hour on the counter to come to room temperature before you roll it out. Or make it start to finish that morning and serve it at a noonish brunch along with fruit, eggs, bacon, juice and coffee. While the dough rises, you’ll have plenty of time to prepare the other items. The bear claw will make a beautiful centerpiece on your table.
-Leslie Mackie
Printable PDF of this recipe here.
Makes 6-8 Bear Claws.

¾ cup whole milk, slightly warm
⅓ cup sugar
2 tsp dried yeast
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

2 eggs
¼ cup sugar
1½ tsp vanilla extract
½ tsp almond extract
1¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 cup sliced almonds
½ cup sugar
1½ Tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
1½ Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
2 eggs
4 oz (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 Tbsp milk
½ tsp almond extract

1 egg
1 tsp water
½ cup sliced almonds

Whisk ingredients together until smooth and there are no lumps. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 2 hours.

Transfer dough to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with dough hook attachment. Add the eggs, sugar, vanilla, almond extract, flour and salt. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes to incorporate the ingredients. Add the butter and increase speed to medium for 10 minutes (dough will ball at the base of the dough hook).
Remove the dough hook and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise for 2 hours or until doubled in size. While the dough is rising, make the almond filling and glaze.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place sliced almonds on the lined baking sheet. Roast for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the toasted almonds, sugar, vanilla, almond extract and flour. Purée to make a paste. Add the eggs and continue to purée. Add the butter pieces one at a time, pulsing to incorporate before adding the next. Process until smooth. Transfer filling into a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the glaze ingredients and whisk to combine. Cover the surface of the glaze with plastic wrap to prevent a skin from forming. Set aside.

Increase the oven temperature to 375°F.
Whisk 1 egg and 1 tsp water together to make an egg wash. Set aside.
Pull the dough onto a floured work surface. Roll it into a long, thin rectangle (24 x 4 x ½-inch thick).
Mark a line down the center of your rectangle lengthwise. Evenly spread ¾ cup of the almond filling down the middle from end to end. Brush egg wash on one legthwise edge and fold the dough over to create a long, narrow strip. Use a fork to crimp and seal the edge. Lift onto the lined baking sheet, bending into the shape of a horseshoe to fit.
Spoon the remaining almond filling over the dough and brush any uncovered areas with egg wash. Sprinkle sliced almonds over the top. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.
Let cool for 15 minutes and drizzle with the glaze. Slice into 6 to 8 segments and enjoy!

Pissaladière Tart with Cambozola & Roasted Tomatoes

This Provençal tart is traditionally made with caramelized onions, anchovies and Kalamata olives on a puff pastry crust. We’ve adapted the classic by replacing the anchovies with roasted tomatoes and Cambozola cheese. Our Flaky Pie Dough makes it easy to cook like a French pastry chef—on a weeknight! The salty sweet flavor combination and the flaky tart crust make this a tempting appetizer. Or add a salad for a simple, luxurious meal.-Leslie Mackie

Printable PDF of this recipe here. 
Makes 9 Servings

2 Roma tomatoes
4 Tbsp olive oil, divided
¾ tsp kosher salt, divided
3 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped, divided
3 Tbsp unsalted butter
3 large yellow onions, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
¼ tsp black pepper
1 disc Macrina Flaky Pie Dough (available frozen at our cafés in 2-packs)
1 egg
⅓ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
2 oz Cambozola cheese, cut in ¼-inch slices

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper, set aside.

Core the tomatoes, then slice them into ¼-inch rounds. Toss with 1 Tbsp olive oil, ¼ tsp salt and ½ tsp thyme. Spread the seasoned tomato slices on one of the the rimmed baking sheets and roast for 20 minutes. Their edges should be tinged golden brown. Let cool.

In a large sauté pan over medium heat, add the butter and remaining 3 Tbsp olive oil. When the butter sizzles, add the sliced onions, 2 tsp thyme, ½ tsp salt and black pepper. Caramelize the onions, stirring often for about 25 minutes until they have reached a light brown caramel color. Place the onions in a bowl and let cool.

On a floured work surface, roll the disc of pie dough into a rectangle, 12-inches x 14-inches and approximately ¼-inch thick. Fold the dough in half and lift it onto the second lined baking sheet. Unfold the dough. Fold the edges in slightly to create a double thickness of dough around the perimeter. Use a fork to poke holes throughout the interior of the dough to prevent large air pockets from forming while baking. Chill for 20 minutes.

Mix the egg with 1 tsp of water. Brush the egg wash along the folded edge of the pie dough. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until golden brown. Layer the caramelized onions, Kalamata olives, sliced roasted tomatoes and Cambozola evenly across the tart. Sprinkle with the remaining fresh thyme.

Return to the oven for 10 to 15 minutes to warm the toppings and melt the cheese. Let rest for 10 minutes. Serve the tart as an appetizer or add a salad to make a light but luxurious meal.

Bon appétit!

Pumpkin Spice Pâte à Choux Doughnuts

Pâte à choux is the classic French pastry dough used to make eclairs, cream puffs and profiteroles. It also makes excellent doughnuts. Baked rather than fried, the doughnuts have that delicate, melt-in-your-mouth texture that makes you crave another. A bit of pumpkin purée and the classic pumpkin pie spices gives them an autumnal flavor. The dough gets all its sweetness from a sugar glaze and a cinnamon sugar topping. Enjoy the doughnuts with apple cider or a steaming mug of coffee.
-Leslie Mackie

Printable PDF of this recipe here. 
Makes 12 Doughnuts
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ tsp ground ginger
¼ tsp ground allspice
¼ tsp ground nutmeg 1 cup water
¼ cup pumpkin purée, canned or fresh
6 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 eggs

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
3 Tbsp milk

2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1½ tsp cinnamon
⅛ tsp ground nutmeg

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Using a sharpie, trace six evenly spaced 3-inch circles on each piece of parchment. Flip the parchment so the ink is on the bottom. You’ll still be able to see it.

In a medium bowl, sift the flour, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, allspice and nutmeg. Set aside.

In a medium saucepan, bring the water, pumpkin purée and butter to a boil. Reduce heat to low and add the flour mixture in 3 additions. Use a wooden spoon to thoroughly incorporate the flour between additions. Once all the flour is added, cook until a thin coating sticks to the base of the pan, an additional 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand mixer. With the whisk attachment, mix on medium-low speed for 2 to 3 minutes to cool the mixture. When it’s just warm to the touch, add the eggs one at a time. Scrape the sides of the bowl between additions to ensure it’s mixed well. When all the eggs are incorporated, mix for 2 more minutes to aerate the dough.

Scoop the dough into a pastry decorating bag fitted with a star tip and squeeze out any excess air. Don’t overfill the pastry bag. To create your doughnuts, pipe dough in the circles you traced on the parchment paper.

Bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until golden brown and hollow sounding when tapped at the base. Let cool for 5 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk the powdered sugar and milk by hand to create a sugar glaze.

Dip the top side of each doughnut in the sugar glaze. Twist your wrist while pulling upward to remove the excess. Place each on the baking sheet, glaze side up.

While waiting for the glaze to partially dry, combine all of the cinnamon sugar ingredients together in a small bowl. When the glaze is about halfway dry, sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the glaze. Enjoy the doughnuts with a glass of cider or hot coffee!

Helping Link: Empowering Seattle’s Vietnamese Community 

In 1994, shortly after Macrina first opened, Phuong Hoang Bui came to Macrina through the International Rescue Committee. He was a boat refugee and had been trying to get to America from his native Vietnam for years. Eager to work and learn, Phuong quickly became a prized employee. Flash forward nearly 30 years: Phuong is Macrina’s Head Baker—as he has been for over 20 years—overseeing daily the production of thousands of loaves.  

Many others of Vietnamese descent have followed Phuong to Macrina, and today you’re as likely to hear Vietnamese on the bakery floor as you are English. Instrumental to our Vietnamese community is the nonprofit Helping Link, an all-volunteer organization that provides free services and programs such as citizenship classes, technology training, information and referral services, English classes, and much more.  “Minh-Duc, the founder and Executive Director of Helping Link, works tirelessly to accomplish as much as is humanly possible to further their mission,” says Scott France, President and part-owner of Macrina. “The work they do provides vital assistance to the thriving Vietnamese community in and around Seattle. Macrina has been a Helping Link sponsor from the very beginning.” 

Minh-Duc Nguyen arrived in Redmond in 1975 as a child. Her family had escaped Vietnam at the fall of Saigon. Sponsors at a local church helped the family get settled. Minh-Duc and her four siblings found the support they needed, worked hard in school, and they all graduated from the University of Washington. In the early nineties, after a trip back to Vietnam, her first, Minh-Duc saw the lack of social services available to new arrivals in America and wanted to do something to help lessen their pain. She started Helping Link in 1993, the same year Leslie Mackie opened Macrina. Helping Link began as a drop-in hour to help Vietnamese refugees like herself with translation services. “I recruited two of my Boeing colleagues,” says Minh-Duc. “We were young, idealistic. We helped translate documentation from local agencies for schooling or housing and job applications. Overnight it got way out of hand. We were overwhelmed. Rather than quit, we recruited eight more friends to help. 

Needing more space, they secured a room at the Rainier Beach Library that had room for 20. On the first night, over 120 people showed up. The police and fire departments worried there was a major incident.  

With so much interest and need, Helping Link eventually secured a space the International District/Little Saigon. Volunteers turned the space into three classrooms and an administrative space. It became a center for Seattle’s thriving Vietnamese community. Today, nearly 40 volunteers—the heart and soul of the organization—teach ESL and technology classes, work as mentors and tutors, provide information and referral services, and host community events. All services are rooted in cultural values of family stability, self-sufficiency, and resilience. Their goals are employment, higher education, fulfilling civic duty, and promoting and preserving culture. “I’m so appreciative that Leslie and Scott keep investing in the Vietnamese community,” says Minh-Duc. “They brought us to Macrina to teach language skills and basic computer skills for their managers so they can do schedule and email. Macrina was an employer I could see wanted to be there for their employees from the beginning. That’s a huge investment. We work with many companies, and Macrina has been a champion at investing in their employees.” 

Helping Link is urgently searching for a new space. After 20 years in Little Saigon, their tenancy was terminated at the end of August due to a sale of the property to a developer. They are seeking assistance to find a welcoming new home in Seattle or King County, as well as relocation support of both time and resources. To get involved, please email Minh-Duc at info@helpinglink.org 

Sole Meunière Sliders

Julia Child loved sole meunière—it’s where her love of French food started. Simple and balanced flavors—mild fish, browned butter, fresh lemon juice—are what make this classic dish so charming. After watching Julia, the inspiring documentary on Julia Child, I found myself craving the dish. I whipped up these open-faced sole meunière sliders with herbs from my garden. The dish comes together in 15 to 20 minutes. Add a salad and a bottle of white wine, and you’ve got a wonderful casual summer evening meal.
-Leslie Mackie

Printable PDF of this recipe here. 

 Makes 8 Sliders
8-pack Macrina Rustic Potato Sliders
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp kosher salt
¼ tsp black pepper
12 to 14 oz Dover or Petrale sole
½ cup unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 Tbsp fresh Italian parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped
1 Tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
1 red jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced, seeds removed
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

Cut 4 slider buns in half and place the tops and bottoms on the prepared baking sheet and set aside.

In a pie pan, combine the flour, salt and pepper. Cut the sole into 8 pieces (approx. 2½-inches each). Coat each piece in the seasoned flour and leave in the pie pan until needed.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, clarify the butter: as the butter melts, it will foam on top, and the whey will fall to the bottom. Watch it carefully. Once the foaming subsides, you should be able to spoon off the clear, golden butter. Set it aside and discard the whey.

Place the baking sheet with the sliders in the oven to warm for 5 minutes.

Add the clarified butter to a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When the butter is hot and beginning to brown, add the sole pieces. Pan fry them for 1 minute on each side. Place a piece of the sautéed sole onto each of the halved sliders.

Add the chopped herbs, jalapeño and lemon juice to the remaining butter in the sauté pan. Season to taste with salt and cracked black pepper. Spoon the browned butter sauce over each slider. Serve warm with a favorite glass of dry white wine.


Summer Berry Charlotte

We’re fortunate to have such a great assortment of summer fruit in the Pacific Northwest. One of our favorite ways to celebrate our delicious berries is in this Summer Berry Charlotte. This recipe calls for blackberries, blueberries and strawberries, but feel free to substitute raspberries, marionberries or red currants. We use a 9-inch stainless steel bowl lined in plastic wrap, but you can use a pudding mold if you have one. A patchwork of thinly sliced brioche forms the crust and a mixture of warm cooked berries thickened with gelatin make a juicy filling that retains some of the fruit’s texture. The dessert requires chilling for a minimum of 4 hours to set up properly, so plan accordingly. When it isn’t peak berry season, we recommend using high-quality IQF (Individually Quick Frozen) berries, many of which are grown near Lynden, in the northwest corner of Washington state.

 -Leslie Mackie
Printable PDF of the recipe here. Makes 8-12 Servings 

1 Macrina Brioche Loaf
4 cups fresh blackberries
4 cups fresh blueberries
3 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
½ cup water
1¾  cup sugar
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1 package + 1 tsp powdered gelatin (package is 1 oz)

Line a 9-inch stainless steel mixing bowl with plastic wrap. This will take 2 pieces. Each side should extend 3 to 4 inches.

Remove the crust from the brioche loaf (top, bottom, ends and sides). Cut the brioche into quarter-inch slices. Begin lining the bowl by cutting a circle from a slice to match the diameter of the bowl base. With the bottom covered, line the walls of the bowl. Larger pieces work best. You’ll need to cut little triangles here and there, in patchwork fashion, until the bowl’s interior is covered. Don’t discard the remaining brioche—you’ll use it to form the top layer.

In a large saucepan, add half the berries and the water, sugar and lemon zest. Cook over medium heat for 3 to 5 minutes to release the juices. The berries should be very soupy. Turn off the heat and sprinkle the powdered gelatin over the surface of the saucepan. Whisk the gelatin into the mixture.

Add the remaining berries. Over low heat, warm the whole mixture for 2 to 4 minutes (you want the second addition of fruit to retain its form).

Ladle some of the berry mixture juices over the brioche lining the bowl until it’s completely saturated and purple in color. Then carefully pour or ladle the rest of the berry mixture in. Top with a single layer of the remaining brioche slices. Press gently to compress the contents in the bowl.

If any brioche strips lining the side extend beyond the top layer, use a knife and cut them level with the top layer.

Fold the extended plastic wrap over the charlotte to seal it.

Find something heavy (such as a small plate with a glass of water on top)—roughly the same diameter as the bowl—and place it on top as a weight to continue to compress the charlotte and ensure the brioche is fully saturated in berry juice.

Chill for a minimum of 4 hours to set the gelatin.

Remove the plastic from the top of the charlotte. Place a serving dish over the rim of the bowl and invert for serving. Remove the bowl and peel away the plastic wrap. If you have any white or unsaturated areas, heat a handful of blueberries with a splash of water and sugar and cook until the berries are soft. Pass this through a sieve and brush the white areas with the warm glaze. Any excess can be used as a sauce when serving.

Garnish with fresh berries. Edible flowers also make a beautiful garnish. Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream or vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!

Cookies for ADAMÂ, A Refugee Bakery in Uganda

Macrina is donating all net proceeds to the Adamâ Bakery during the week of July 25 from café sales of our four packs of Brown Sugar Shortbread Cookies. We also urge café customers to donate directly to the bakery here.

“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. “I thank the bakers who have trained us. They have contributed so much to my trauma healing. Above all, I have found a family in Adamâ.”

The ADAMÂ Bakery is located by the Oruchinga Settelment Camp in southwest Uganda. The camp is home to over 9,000 refugees from Burundi, Congo, Rwanda, and other parts of East Africa. Many have escaped unspeakable tragedies at home.

Jeffrey Hamelman and Mitch Stamm, both renowned and recently retired bakers, were invited by Ayelet Berman-Cohen, the founder and executive director of the Adamâ Foundation, to travel to Uganda and help the bakery get going. They spent a few weeks there. For nearly thirty years, Leslie has collaborated on regional events with Jeffery and Mitch through the Bread Bakers Guild of America. Through this connection, Macrina learned about Adamâ and was inspired to become an annual donor.

“When the refugees arrive, they are given four eucalyptus poles and a tarp,” says Jeffrey. “The tarp and poles become their home. New arrivals are also given a machete and a hoe so they can hack out some jungle and hopefully get some seeds. If they are successfully raising their prospects, they use homemade bricks to build a mud hut with no windows, no electricity, no running water, and an amazing number of people are crammed into a tiny space. Refugees get $3.74 a month from the UN for food.”

“They’ve been stripped of everything except their dignity,” Mitch says. “They ran into the bush with nothing upon seeing family members killed. Some people are born in the refugee camp. They’ll spend their entire lives there.”

The bakery is located in a small house next to the refugee camp. The oven is wood fired, as is the proof box. A 35-kilo electric mixer and an electric bread slicer are all the powered equipment they have. Twenty-four bakers arrive every day for work. They learn a trade, earn an income, and distribute a portion of the day’s baked goods to children in the settlements.

“The bakers are three-fourths women,” says Jeffrey. “They have an unbelievable amount of dignity. They walk to the bakery. The different nationalities work well together, they harmonize. They are absolutely overjoyed to be able to learn a skill, provide bread for their families, and for thousands of children to whom bread is given free.”

Angella Kushemererwa and Sophie Karungi manage the bakery. They work full-time at the bakery and also have full-time jobs, Angella at the United Nations, and Sophie providing trauma care in refugee settlements. At the end of every day, the bakers make trips deep into the community to hand out bread to children, many malnourished.

“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,” says Jeffrey. “The other emotional extreme is that the buns always run out before the desperate hands that are endlessly reaching out to get a bun, and that just crushes you. That happens every single time.”

The goal for the bakery is to become self-sustaining eventually, but for now keeping it open costs about $5,000 per month. The Adamâ Foundation plans to install a modern oven in the next few months.

“We know the needs are endless, but we’re hoping to help fund the acquisition of this oven,” says Scott France, president and part-owner of Macrina Bakery.

Jeffrey and Mitch are self-funding an upcoming trip to help get the oven installed. “The wood-burning oven is a weak link,” says Jeffrey. “It’s got four chambers. There’s a 50-degree temperature differential between the chambers. All the trays need to get shifted throughout the bake.”

The new equipment will help the bakery feed more children and will be a solid step toward self-sustainability.

“Some people might say you’re training 24 people, and you’re giving out tens of thousands of buns—this is just wonderful,” says Jeffrey. “And others might say, you better multiply that by a hundred if you’re gonna have any impact at all. Well, none of us is going to fix the world, but I feel like having an opportunity to do one little thing that’s helping these people….” Jeffrey pauses to compose himself. “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.”

You can donate directly to ADAMÂ here. All money goes to the bakers and has an incredible impact on the quality of their lives.