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It's Biscuit, It's Biscuit Time!: Macrina Bakery's Buttermilk Biscuits

Macrina's Buttermilk Biscuits

When talking about bakeries in Seattle, the moment will inevitably come when someone asks us "What do you think about Macrina?." After all, Macrina Bakery is probably one of the more famous bakeries in Seattle: it's won awards, it's been featured in numerous cookbooks and on the Food Network. But it's also a very polarizing subject for locals, who either seem to love or loathe the place.


Naysayers will say that they're inconsistent, that the service is slow and sometimes surly, the baked goods dense and exceedingly--perhaps too--rich.

Strangely, those are all the same reasons we love it. Sure, it can be frustrating at times, but it feels deeply human and homey somehow. And our very favorite item there? The buttermilk biscuits with fresh preserves.

Now, a Southern purist might be appalled by these biscuits--made with buttermilk, shortening, pastry flour and yeast, they seem to be on a different wavelength than the light-as-air, fluffy White Lily flour and lard sort from days of yore. Due to folding the dough three times before baking, they attain a level of flakiness that seems somehow denser than other biscuits, and works wonderfully with a morning coffee. And at approximately 7:15 a.m. in the morning, shortly after the bakery has opened for the day (we never go right at 7 because the biscuits are never out first-thing), we couldn't imagine anything sweeter than the rows and rows of golden-hued biscuits, still warm, each with a glistening jewel-like dollop of fresh preserves.

As for the haters? Go ahead, keep hating--more biscuits for us.


Macrina's Buttermilk BiscuitsMacrina's Buttermilk Biscuits 

In Seattle? Visit Macrina's shop(s--there are three) at 2408 1st Ave. in Belltown 206.448.4032 (and our favorite); at 615 West McGraw Street in Queen Anne, 206.283.5900; and at 19603 Vashon Hwy SW on Vashon Island, 206.567.4133. You can visit them online too at macrinabakery.com.
Not in Seattle? Well, luckily we have the recipe (though if it's more your speed, the recipe for their now famous Sour Cherry Coffee Cake, which was featured on the Food Network's "Road Tasted" show, can be found here). Also, their book is well worth investing in; it can be found here.
Macrina's Buttermilk Biscuits (With a few notes of our own--makes six generous biscuits)
  • 2 tablespoons warm water
  • 1 teaspoon dried yeast
  • 3 cups pastry flour
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cups vegetable shortening, cut to 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • egg wash made from 1 egg and 1 teaspoon water
To Garnish: Coarse sugar (use as desired) and 1/2 cup preserves, your favorite type (we like marionberry). The coarse sugar is not a deal breaker but does add a nice crunch; the preserves are absolutely necessary.
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a small bowl, combine warm water and yeast. Mix with whisk to dissolve yeast, and let sit for five minutes while yeast blooms.
  3. Sift flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl. Toss with your hands to combine. Drop pieces of shortening into bowl. Using pastry cutter or fork, cut in until coarse and crumbly.
  4. Add the yeast-water and buttermilk, and mix with a wooden spoon, but only until it all comes together--do not overmix.
  5. Coat hands with flour and pull dough from bowl on to a floured surface. Pat dough into a rectangle, approximately 9 x 5 inches, so the long side is facing you. Dough will be sticky so keep flouring your hands as needed.
  6. To achieve a flaky, layered effect, it's important to give the dough a series of tri-folds: fold into thirds like a letter, folding the left third over the center third first, and then the right third on top. Sprinkle more flour and roll out to a 9 x 5 rectangle again, repeating the tri-fold step twice more (for a total of three tri-folds), ending with a rectangle 3/4 to 1 inch thick.
  7. Cut into six equal rectangles and place on the baking sheet. Brush with your egg wash and sprinkle on raw sugar.
  8. Bake on center rack for 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown on top and bottom (ours only took 18 minutes to get to the point we liked). Let cool for ten minutes or so, then dent the top with a spoon and fill with a generous dollop of your preserves.

Finally, as a bonus, a couple more photos of other Macrina baked goods:
Cupcakes at Macrina, Belltown, SeattleMacrina BakeryKiwi Topped Cupcakes at Macrina, Belltown, SeattleNice Buns at Macrina, Seattle
Macrina Bakery on Urbanspoon




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Reader Comments (29)

great review and delicious looking photos! I also loved the review of los angeles donuts!

July 16 | Unregistered CommenterGigi

Gosh these look good. I shouldn't have looked though - I'm so hungry and waiting for my friend to come out of her meeting before we go for lunch!

Mmmmmm... biscuits! How many did you eat? :-)

July 16 | Unregistered CommenterAnn

I am an adopted Southerner so I am digging these...especially when you said "three folds" and "flaky" in one same sentence!!

July 16 | Unregistered CommenterTartelette

Never heard of biscuits with yeast before! Since I love, love, LOVE biscuits, I'm sure I'd enjoy these, too.

July 16 | Unregistered CommenterRicki

Have I ever told you how much I want to be you? To visit all of these places and eat all these treats - I'd be in heaven!

July 16 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah

Biscuits with fresh preserves??? I'm all over that!!! :0)

July 16 | Unregistered CommenterVeggieGirl

i love my mammy's buttermilk biscuits made the old-fashioned way, but i would never ever hate on something that looks and sounds as good as these. yum.

July 16 | Unregistered CommenterGrace

But how are the cupcakes? =D

July 16 | Unregistered CommenterOwl Chick

my mouth is watering those biscuits look so good! Yummy :)

Ooo I didn't realize Macrina Bakery was in Seattle! I'm going to have to make a trip at some point (I'm in Vancouver). Thanks for sharing the recipe.

sooooo glad you gave the recipe!!!

July 16 | Unregistered CommenterEB

these look wonderful! and I'm glad you gave the recipe too!!

July 16 | Unregistered CommenterBunny

Gigi: Thanks!! It was all so delicious!

Caked Crusader: Oh no! I hope you had lunch AND dessert!

Ann: I personally went through a big obsession with these biscuits. For a while I was eating 3-4 a week, but now only have them once in a wonderful while.

Tartelette: Yay! :-) I really love them. They're really a unique texture!

Ricki: I too was surprised by the yeast! I have since found it in one other SOUTHERN recipe, for "Angel" biscuits. Interesting!

Owl Chick: The cupcakes are a controversy! I love them. They're extremely dense and VERY buttery (esp. the frosting). I like this but it's a bit much for some. Definitely a far different cupcake than you'd get at Trophy, for instance.

Christine: Aren't biscuits the best?

Eat Me Delicious: oh, I think you'll like them! We do. :-)

EB: You're welcome!! This goodness needs to be shared!

Bunny: No problem! Enjoy!

July 16 | Unregistered CommenterCakespy

How heavenly! Simple and a thing of beauty!

nothing better than a hot biscuit right out of the oven. All of those baked goods look so yummy!

July 16 | Unregistered CommenterLina

OMG, I seriously got a tingling in my mouth when those sugar crystals popped up on my screen. Those look outrageously good!

Thanks for taking me through your spy eyes and finding all these baked goods! Awesome!

July 16 | Unregistered Commentertigerfish

I didn't know a biscuit could look like that. Gorgeous raspberry torte photo.

July 17 | Unregistered CommenterJeanna

That cake with the raspberries looks delish with a capital "D".

July 17 | Unregistered CommenterDana McCauley

wowzers, that looks great! next time i'm in seattle, i'll have to stop in to that bakery.

July 17 | Unregistered Commenterkickpleat

I bought the brioche when I was there on Saturday (and it was sooo good), but if I hadn't been so full from brunch I would have eaten everything.

July 17 | Unregistered CommenterLydia

Mmm...they look so yummy. I have to say I am a Macrina fan. As a side note, am I right in detecting a Flight of the Concords-inspired title for this post?

I would, in a heartbeat, take a yeast risen biscuit over the fanciest looking cake. Maybe it's a false sense that because it isn't usually oooey and gooey it doesn't have many calories. I'll just stay in that world.

July 17 | Unregistered Commentergiz

i love, love, love biscuits... biscuits with jam, biscuits with ham, buscuits with gravy... you name it. butter, butter, butter!

July 18 | Unregistered CommenterAran
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