Recipe of the Month: Apple Pie Braid

Sometimes you want to shake things up when making apple pies in the fall. I love using phyllo dough for its crisp and light texture, nicely contrasting with the baked apple filling. Phyllo layers are found in the freezer section of most grocery stores and offer many options for savory and sweet treats. If the thought of working with pastry intimidates you, rest assured phyllo is your friend. The key is to prevent it from drying out as you assemble the braid. Simply keep it covered with plastic, and you should be fine. The end result? A stunning braided pie with a buttery, flaky crust.
-Leslie Mackie

Printable PDF of this recipe here.
Makes 4-6 Servings.

Ingredients  
3 large Granny Smith apples
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
1 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
8 Tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 tsp vanilla extract
8 sheets of phyllo dough, 9 x 14-inch (covered with plastic and defrosted)
1 Tbsp powdered sugar

  
Preheat oven to 350°F. Prepare 2 rimmed baking pans by lining them with parchment paper.

Peel, core, and slice the apples into ½-inch wedges. In a medium bowl, toss the apple wedges with ¼ cup sugar, flour and cinnamon. Spread evenly in one layer on one of the lined baking sheets.

Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature. This step evaporates some of the juices, helping prevent the base of the tart from getting soggy.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a separate small bowl, make the vanilla sugar by mixing the remaining ½ cup sugar with the vanilla extract.

On the second baking pan, lay a sheet of phyllo dough with its long side parallel to the long side of the baking sheet. Lightly brush the surface with melted butter. Layer on the second sheet of phyllo and brush again with butter. Add the third layer, lightly brushing with butter, and sprinkling a heaping tablespoon of vanilla sugar evenly over the sheet. Repeat this same procedure for the next 4 sheets. For the 8th sheet, lightly brush with butter, then arrange the baked apples lengthwise in the center, forming a 3-inch-wide row.

Along both lengthwise edges of the phyllo, use scissors to make 5 evenly spaced cuts, each about 2½-inches long, at a slight angle toward the center. This will leave you with six strips on each side. Fold these strips over the apples, braiding them in the center (start at one end, crossing alternating strips to create a braided pattern). Brush the braid with the remaining butter and sprinkle any remaining vanilla sugar on top.

Increase the oven temperature to 375°F. Bake the apple pie braid on the center rack for 40 to 45 minutes, or until light golden brown. Let cool for 30 minutes.

Before serving, dust the braid with powdered sugar. Enjoy with sweetened whipped cream or your favorite fall ice cream!

Employee Recipe Series: Matt Galvin’s Bui Bun Meatball Sub

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

You know those nights when you want a break from cooking, but you and the kids are famished? Matt Galvin, co-owner of Macrina, knows them all too well. With four kids — hungry from soccer, ballet, and life — he would often turn to the cheesy, saucy, messy splendor of a meatball sandwich made with DeLaurenti’s meatballs, marinara sauce, and melted fresh mozzarella on Macrina’s Bui Buns. “The whole thing comes together in minutes, and you can scale it if, say, one of your kids brings a friend or three.”

Matt found a love of food working in many local restaurants and developed a fondness for Italian food while living in Italy. “The meatball sandwich is an Italian-American creation,” he says. “Like most Italian dishes, it’s just a few ingredients in the right proportion. The quality of the ingredients makes all the difference. Use excellent meatballs, fresh mozzarella, and the right bread, and you’ve got a dynamite meal.”

Macrina’s head baker, Phuong Bui, designed these buns specifically for the banh mi, the famous sandwich from his native Vietnam. It boasts a crisp crust and tender, airy crumb that Matt says is perfect for the ultimate meatball sandwich.

“DeLaurenti makes the best meatballs,” says Matt. “I heat them in DeLaurenti’s marinara sauce, slice up a few balls of Ferndale Farms fresh mozzarella, fill a Bui Bun with a couple of meatballs, top it with a spoonful of marinara and a few slices of mozzarella, then broil it briefly to melt the cheese. It’s pretty simple.”

Employee Recipe Series: Corrina Steffens-Highley: Charcuterie, Soup Bowls & More

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

Corrina Steffens-Highley, the Assistant manager at our Kent café, oversees the staff and operations at the café. When asked about the best compliment she has ever received, Corrina doesn’t hesitate: “Someone told me I have a glowing personality.” As the morning rush begins, that glow fills the café as she greets many regular customers by name. “It’s not just work to me,” she explains. “It’s like a second family.”

At the end of the workday, Corrina returns home to her first family. Hailing from a large Italian-American family, she has always found meals to be central to family life and takes pleasure in hosting meals at her home and sharing food with her extended family.

“I love to find creative uses for Macrina products,” she says. One of her recent favorites is a spin on the classic cream cheese and lox on bagels. “Our Savory Pinwheel is a lot lighter than a bagel and the flavors go really well together. Simply cut it in half horizontally, wam it gently, spread one side with cream cheese and top it with the salmon. It’s so good.”Another favorite is using the Mini Casera loaf as a soup bowl. “I cut the top off the loaf, hollow it out, and fill it with clam chowder or tomato bisque,” she says. This works well with both fresh and day-old loaves.

Corrina excels at transforming Macrina’s leftover breads into tasty appetizers. “Butter boards are an excellent starter. Basically, you soften butter and add whatever you like. Roasted garlic is great, as is lemon dill,” says Corrina. She creates crostini with old bread by slicing it, brushing both sides with olive oil, and baking them at 350°F for 10–15 minutes. The crostini are perfect for dipping into flavored butters.Crostini (or Sardinian flatbread) also work well on charcuterie boards. Corrina uses a large cutting board as a canvas. “I think of it as a big picture,” she says. “You fill in the picture with sliced meats, cheeses, olives, and crostini. In the end, it looks beautiful. It’s my art.”

DanceChance: Expanding Access to Ballet

Macrina is a Proud Supporter of DanceChance.

In 1994, Pacific Northwest Ballet (PNB) launched DanceChance, a program aimed at discovering ballet talent in Seattle’s public schools. Nearly three decades later, the initiative has impacted over 1,400 students across 20+ schools. Each fall, PNB educators visit third-grade classrooms, offering interactive dance sessions that serve as many students’ first exposure to ballet.

Selected students, showing promise in attributes like flexibility and focus, are invited to train at PNB School for free, including transportation and attire. The program not only democratizes access to ballet but also instills valuable life skills such as teamwork and perseverance.

DanceChance has produced professional dancers, including current PNB members Kuu Sakuragi and Joh Morrill. Others have joined renowned dance companies worldwide.

At Macrina Bakery, we’re proud to support DanceChance, a program that brings joy and opportunities to deserving young talents.

Employee Recipe Series: Leslie Mackie’s Brioche Bread Pudding

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

As we all know, many of the best things in life are unplanned. This delightful creation was serendipitously born when Leslie Mackie, the founder of Macrina Bakery, found herself with a leftover loaf of our Columba Pasquale — a brioche-like Easter bread enriched with brandy, interspersed with candied orange peel, and topped with sliced almonds — and a bag of fresh Bing cherries, just in time for a Mother’s Day brunch.

“It was one of the best bread puddings I’ve ever made,” she says. “Columba Pasquale has a great texture for bread pudding, and the sliced almonds, candied orange peel, and brandy in the bread were great with the tart cherries.”

Since we only bake Columba Pasquale for Easter, Leslie adapted the recipe to our Brioche loaf, which is available throughout the year. (Challah is another delicious alternative.)

This recipe calls for fresh cherries, but you can also use dried cherries. Just reduce the amount to ¾ cup and soak them in warm water for 10 minutes to rehydrate before adding them to the bread.

Leslie’s Brioche Bread Pudding Recipe

Use one 10-inch Pie Pan; Serves 6

Ingredients

1 loaf of Macrina’s Brioche bread
3 Tbsp butter, melted
1 cup Bing cherries, halved and pitted
1½ cups heavy cream
1½ cups whole milk
3 large eggs
¾ cup granulated sugar, divided
1 tsp brandy
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 Tbsp candied orange peel, diced
⅓ cup sliced almonds

DIRECTIONS

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Cut ⅓ off the Brioche loaf and reserve for another use. Remove crusts from the remainder then cut into ¼-inch thick slices. Cut each slice in half to create “tiles” (roughly 2-inches by 4-inches).

Place the sliced bread on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Toast in the oven for 5 minutes. Flip the bread pieces, then toast for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove the toasted bread from the oven and let it cool slightly. Brush both sides of the bread with melted butter (reserve a little bit to brush your baking dish to prevent sticking).

While the bread is toasting and cooling, pit and halve your fresh cherries. Toss them in 1½ Tbsp of sugar and let them sit for about 10 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the heavy cream, milk, eggs, remaining sugar, brandy, and vanilla extract. Whisk well and set aside.

Brush a 10-inch pie dish with some of the remaining melted butter.

Arrange the toasted and buttered brioche “tiles” in the pie dish in a rosette format. Start by forming a circle with the “tiles” along the edge of the dish, then continue to arrange them in smaller, concentric circles, moving towards the center of the dish. Cut half-sized “tiles” for the center of the rose. Layer in the candied orange peel and sliced almonds. Scatter the sugared cherries evenly over the bread.

Pour the cream mixture over the bread and cherries, ensuring all the bread is soaked. Press down lightly with a spatula to make sure all the bread is in contact with the liquid. Let it sit for about 10–15 minutes so the bread can absorb the custard mixture.

Cover the baking dish with foil and place it into a larger pan. Pour hot water into the larger pan until it comes halfway up the sides of the pie dish to create a water bath.

Bake the pudding for 50–60 minutes, or until the custard is set.

Remove the foil and bake for another 15–20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. A knife inserted into the center should come out clean.

Serve warm.

Classic Ricotta Tart

Having lived in the North End of Boston for three years, I had the pleasure of frequenting some of the best Italian bakeries — the inspiration behind this tart. This rendition is adapted from a beloved recipe in our first cookbook. The Italian pasta frolla dough is versatile and straightforward to make. You’ll find yourself dreaming up other rustic tarts that it would serve well. My favorite filling combines rich ricotta cheese, dried cranberries, hazelnuts and bittersweet chocolate chips. However, feel free to swap out the dried fruit and nuts as whimsy or inspiration strikes. Fresh berries and a glass of Vin Santo make the perfect accompaniments to this lovely Italian tart.
-Leslie Mackie

Printable PDF of this recipe here.
Makes one 7-inch tart; serves 6

Ingredients 
PASTA FROLLA DOUGH
2½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
⅓ cup granulated sugar
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground anise
10 Tbsp (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into ½-inch cubes
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 Tbsp heavy cream

FILLING
⅓ cup dried cranberries
2 cups seasonal berries
3¾ cup whole milk ricotta
½ cup granulated sugar
1 Tbsp unbleached all-purposed flour
¼ tsp salt
1½ tsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp orange zest
4 egg yolks
¼ cup hazelnuts, roasted and coarsely ground
½ cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1 Tbsp unbleached all-purposed flour
1 egg + 1 tsp watter for egg wash
2 Tbsp raw sugar (Turbinado)

 
PASTA FROLLA DOUGH
In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the flour, sugar and salt. Add the ground anise and mix until well combined. Place bowl on mixer, and fit with the paddle attachment. On low speed, gradually add the butter cubes. Continue mixing until the texture resembles coarse crumbs.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk, vanilla extract and heavy cream. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture. Mix just until the dough comes together, about 30 seconds.

Transfer the dough onto a clean surface. Divide it into two portions: one larger and the other about a third of the size. Shape each portion into a flat disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

On a floured surface, roll out the larger dough disk into an 11-inch circle with a thickness of ⅛-inch. Carefully transfer it to a 7-inch x 1½-inch cake pan, pressing into the bottom and up the sides. Ensure there’s a ½-inch overhang around the top edges of the pan.

Roll out the smaller dough disk into a 7-inch circle, also with a thickness of ⅛-inch. Cut two 2-inch vents in this top layer of dough. Set the dough-lined cake pan aside as you make the filling.

FILLING
Rinse the dried cranberries under water to rehydrate them. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, sugar, flour, salt, vanilla extract and orange zest. This can be mixed by hand or using a stand mixer until combined well.

Gradually add the egg yolks, ensuring each yolk is fully incorporated before adding the next. Gently fold in the rehydrated cranberries, ground hazelnuts, and chocolate chips, making sure they are evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

In a seperate small bowl, whisk together the egg and water to make the egg wash.

Transfer the filling into the dough-lined cake pan, smoothing the top to ensure it’s level. Top the filling with the 7-inch pasta frolla circle. Brush the perimeter of the top dough with egg wash. Fold the ½-inch overhang from the base dough over the top dough, pressing gently to seal the tart.

Brush the entire top of the tart with the remaining egg wash and sprinkle with raw sugar. If you have excess dough, you can roll it out and cut decorative roses or other designs and place them on top of tart.

Refrigerate the assembled tart for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Bake the tart for 50 to 55 minutes, or until the crust turns a golden brown and the filling is set.

Allow the tart to cool for at least 2 hours before serving. Enjoy with fresh berries and a glass of Vin Santo!

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!