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Leslie Mackie's Macrina Bakery & Café Cookbook

by Leslie Mackie with Andrew Cleary

Leslie Mackie's Macrina Bakery & Café Cookbook

Every neighborhood needs a Macrina Bakery and Café. Familiars consider Macrina, opened by owner-chef Leslie Mackie in Seattle's Belltown in 1993 (and later on Queen Anne Hill), close to heaven. With so many lovely tarts and cakes, pies, cookies, pastries and artisan breads demanding attention, you have to stop in for breakfast or lunch. It wouldn't be right to skip a meal here... and it would be very wrong to leave empty-handed.

Some ten years after opening her first Macrina Bakery and Café, Mackie (with her general manager, Andrew Cleary) has gift-wrapped her entire place in her debut Leslie Mackie's Macrina Bakery & Café Cookbook. It is, indeed, a treat—packed with more than 100 recipes, and plenty of heart and soul.

Mackie earned her stripes at the California Culinary Academy and honed her baking skills working for Lydia Shire and Susan Regis at Biba. Along the way she discovered her passion for bread, then took a "bread pilgrimage" to Italy, where she visited countless bakeries and devoured countless loaves. When Mackie opened Macrina in Belltown, it was a dicey neighborhood and their focus was bread—plenty of rustic, artisan breads and just a few tarts, muffins and coffee cakes.

Things have changed. The Macrina Bakery & Café Cookbook reflects Mackie's present-day ventures and much-expanded fare. Breads are still first. There are sour-started and biga breads, American standards and sweet breads. And there is plenty of instruction, insight and encouragement, whether it's a Greek Olive Loaf, Ciabatta or Challah you're pursuing.

Four more sections tell the Macrina story in recipe form: Mornings at Macrina is all about Cherry Almond Scones, Fresh Fruit Muffins and Cream Biscuits with Black Forest Ham and Romano Cheese. There are not-to-be-missed Cinnamon Rolls with Coconut, Raisins and Walnuts and a sublime Ginger Pear Upside-Down Cake. And then (sigh) Honey Lemon Bread Pudding with Blueberry Compote!

There's a lot to consider in the Cakes chapter, and then Pies and Tarts. How do you choose between Chocolate Cherry Pound Cake or Huckleberry and Crème Fraiche Tart? Let the seasons decide, listen to Mackie and use fresh, in-season fruits. The Cookie Basket leans towards classics like Peanut Butter Cookies, brownies and biscotti, and kindly includes the recipe for Macrina's famous Ginger and Molasses Cookies.

Mackie doesn't enter the café until near the end of the Macrina Bakery & Café Cookbook. Macrina Café Favorites are simple but satisfying brunch dishes like Cinnamon French Toast with Ricotta Filling and Macrina's Fried Egg Sandwich, which is much more than it sounds: on slices of Rustic Potato Loaf and finished with Spicy Tomato Sauce. Lunch is soups and salads and a substantial Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Sage Cream and Romano Cheese. Finally, in The Holiday Table, the authors share Baked Brie en Croûte, Fig and Cranberry Chutney and a Maple Pecan Pumpkin Pie that will change your Thanksgiving forever.

The Macrina Bakery & Café Cookbook is friendly, solid and satisfying. With the care of a good baker, the authors include a kitchen equipment list, a decent glossary, plenty of tips and clear instruction. The background stories are good reading and, like the book's namesake, its recipes will keep you coming back for more. With everything being equally delicious, you can't accuse Mackie of saving the best for last.


(Updated: 12/04/08 SB)

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