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July 2014

Cook with the Best in the Northwest

Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook, by Leslie Mackie
Reviewed by Mary Rose

Cook with the Best in the Northwest archive

 

If you live in Seattle, the Macrina Bakery likely is already a favorite place to linger.

I've been dipping into the 2003 edition of this cookbook for several years. There's a 2006 edition with a different cover and additional recipes. Mackie has also put together More from Macrina: New Favorites from Seattle's Popular Neighborhood Bakery (2012).

 


Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook (2003), by Leslie Mackie

 

While I love eating at the Belltown bakery (there are also locations on Queen Anne and in SODO) and always carry away an armload of baked goods to enjoy later, the cookbook doesn't quite seem to live up to the bakery's exceptional reputation.

Mackie no doubt uses the same recipes, but she probably has different equipment at her business than you or I might have. I have to wonder if the recipes were tested in a home kitchen.

The Oatmeal Buttermilk Bread, for example, is tasty but produced a HUGE loaf. It would have been nice to have been prepared for that surprise.

The Classic Brioche Loaf is a nice bread, but I certainly have made much better brioche. (I recommend The Silver Palate's classic recipe.)

Now there are a lot of recipes I haven't tried in this book—Guatemalan Hot Chocolate Bread is one item on my to-bake list, and I rather hope it does make a huge loaf—so I don't want to discourage you from buying this book and seeing how things turn out in your own kitchen.

If you're a bakery regular, you'll recognize and want to try Rocket Muffins, Squash Harvest Loaf, and Coconut Cake with Raspberries and Cream.

And there are plenty of savory dishes, such as Fresh Lentil Soup with Roasted Tomatoes and Peppers; Roasted Goat Cheese Salad with Vintner's Vinaigrette; and Baked Brie en Croute.

One winning recipe that my test audience hasn't stopped talking about is Bittersweet Chocolate Brownies. Mackie writes that they have a "light and airy texture" and that some of her customers describe them as "chocolate cotton candy." Any recipe that tells you to mix the batter until it has a "mousse-like" texture sounds good to me!

 


Bittersweet Chocolate Brownies

 

Bittersweet Chocolate Brownies
from Macrina Bakery & Cafe Cookbook

Makes 9 brownies.

5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
6 eggs
Powdered sugar

Combine chocolate and butter in a medium stainless steel bowl. Place bowl on top of a saucepan filled with 2 inches of simmering water, making sure that the bottom of the bowl does not come in contact with the water. It's important that the water be just simmering; if it's too hot, it will scorch the chocolate. Stir with a rubber spatula until chocolate and butter have melted and reached a smooth consistency. Remove the bowl from the heat and let cool to room temperature.

Preheat oven to 325 F. Oil a 9-inch square baking pan.

Place sugar and flour in the bowl of your stand mixer and mix with the paddle attachment for 30 seconds on low speed. Increase speed to medium and add eggs, one at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding another. Scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently.

With the mixer on low speed, drizzle in the cooled melted chocolate. Scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula to make sure you get all of the chocolate. Increase speed to medium and mix for about 1 minute, or until the batter is mousse-like in texture.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan and spread it evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake on center rack of oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the center is just set. Let cool on a wire rack.

After the brownies have completely cooled, dust them with powdered sugar. Cut into 3x3-inch bars, cleaning the knife between cuts. It's best to enjoy these brownies the day they are baked, but they can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 day. The brownies become very dense and fudge-like if kept in the refrigerator.

 

Mary Rose lives high in the mountains of Montana. She enjoys traveling to farmers markets in summer and making snowballs during the long winter. She is happy to find many locally produced foods, including lentils, cheese, and stroopwafels.

 

Cook with the Best in the Northwest copyright 2014.
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