Seattle Pastry Chefs Go Rogue

The early bird gets the cinnamon roll at Crumble and Flake.

By Kathryn Robinson September 19, 2012 Published in the October 2012 issue of Seattle Met

Yes, there are people in the world who will wait on a predawn sidewalk for a bakery to open at 7am, just to guarantee themselves a cinnamon roll. Enough of them, it turns out, that I’ve never sampled the cinnamon roll at Crumble and Flake; the legendary pastries are gone by the time I stroll in around 8am. What’s more, space constraints in the tiny, table-less bakery on Olive mean fabled pastry chef Neil Robertson (Canlis, MistralKitchen) probably won’t be able to sufficiently fulfill demand anytime soon; Crumble and Flake’s popularity was extolled in The Economist just a month after it opened in May and fueled a vicious cycle of admiration and press. 

The croissants often sell out too, but if you score one you’ll note that it shatters on impact—the namesake flake—and gently, not unctuously, oozes butter. Cheddar and smoked paprika grace one fine version; another, the croissant’s cousin, pain au chocolate, also rocked (though the chocolate was a little cloying). Robertson’s cookies are bliss: a blueberry-oatmeal whose crisp edges concealed chewy centers and bursts of midsummer juice; a salted peanut butter that crunched and melted by turns. Yes, I’ve been back a few times; next time it’ll be before 7am.

Another bakery from another restaurant pastry chef brings a novel solution to the sold-out problem: home delivery. Lauded Tin Table pastry chef Michael Seidel opened the Troubadour Baker as a sort of CSA (Community Supported Agriculture, for farm-to-doorstep deliveries) for the baked goods he became famous for in his former gig at Tilikum Place Cafe. Place your $40 order by 5pm on Thursday and the following Monday a week’s worth of baked goods, chef’s choice, will materialize on your porch. 

Mine included two moist and grainy loaves of bread—a wheat and a dense savory onion—along with a bag of rich, whole-nut granola; a wedge of the Italian fruitcake, panforte; and a big bag of soft Middle Eastern cookies made with rose water and orange blossom and filled with fragrant pistachio paste. Cards tucked into the box explained both the reason for the ma’amoul cookies—Seidel honored the close of Ramadan that week—and a reminder that baked goods freeze beautifully, just in case you can’t finish them in a week.

We had no such problem.

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