macrina bakery
Using locally produced ingredients can help cultivate new business partnerships.

Based on the model of the traditional old-world village bakery, the bread baked daily at Macrina Bakery & Cafe in Seattle incorporates unique characteristics because of the use of available regional ingredients. The rustic European breads and baked goods from Macrina feature as many indigenous products as possible, as well as organic grains and natural ingredients.
The philosophy of this acclaimed bakery, according to owner Leslie Mackie, is to enhance both the natural products and the flavor of the various grains. Baked goods are created from Northwest apples, potatoes, cranberries and hazelnuts, as well as wheat, rye, barley and buckwheat flour. Macrina Casera, the house bread, was developed to be eaten at any meal, complementing all foods.

One of the bakery’s more popular breads, Pane Francese, combines Shepherd’s Grain Whole Wheat Flour, unbleached flour and their signature Hightower Starter, which is developed from Hightower Cellars Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon grapes.

“People are trying to work with more local products, and to me that’s where the opportunity opened up,” says Mackie of their partnership with Hightower Cellars Vineyard that started about three years ago. “To me, the greatest gift is the whole partnership. We gained a friend and a business partnership.”

The Pane Francese from Macrina Bakery and Cafe in Seattle.

Macrina’s Pane Francese, offered as a 1-lb loaf, harmonizes the best of French and Italian breads into one unique loaf. It is shaped like a classic French baguette. This long loaf has a lot of crust and a light airy texture with a slightly sour flavor. The bakery also produces a 2-lb loaf used for its sandwich program. “This bread has a light texture with a thin crust,” Mackie says. “It’s very popular. We like it so much we adopted it to our sandwiches.”

Creating a unique starter

To make the Hightower Starter, which is developed from Hightower Cellars Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, Macrina’s follows these steps: 

Start with freshly picked Hightower Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. “I tasted them and they were actually delicious. Not as sweet as table grapes, but nice sweetness and acid balance. I always thought wine grapes would not be tasty but their flavor is brought out in the process of making wine,” Mackie says.

Discard any unfavorable grapes. Wash to remove any debris.

Weigh out grapes to 1½-1/2 lbs.

Wrap grapes in cheese cloth to make a sachet.

Gather needed ingredients: grapes, all-purpose unbleached flour and water. Recipe calls for 1-1/2 lbs grapes, 2 lbs all-purpose flour and 3 lbs water at 75°F degrees.

Combine water and flour.

Mix until smooth.

Holding grape sachet over bowl, squeeze sachet, releasing juice into the flour mixture. Submerge sachet into flour mixture.

Let stand for 24 hours at room temperature to start the fermentation process. After 24 hours, remove sachet and discard. Look at the activity from the natural yeast found on the skins of the grapes. Our starter is born.

Combine your recipe of 2 lbs flour and 3 lbs water. Mix thoroughly in a separate bowl. This will be added to the starter.

For your first feeding, you directly add the mixture and again let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Mix thoroughly.

The feeding process takes place every day. After the first feeding, discard ½1/2 the starter and feed flour mixture to that. Your volume will get toso large if you don't discard. If you have liquid gathering at the top, you need to move your starter into the refrigerator.