Temple celebrates the crossroads of laminated pastry and dessert.
Trial and error led Christina Wood to an important conclusion: Cruffins need hats. Generally speaking, this novelty mashup of a croissant and a muffin lacks the gravitas inherent to other laminated-dough confections. But at Temple Pastries, Wood and her bakers coil finicky croissant dough around tiny columns of pecan paste. These muffin-shaped creations get baked, cooled, and topped with maple bavarois and finally a housemade coin of milk chocolate and chopped pecan. A weekend-only special, they taste like fancy teatime and maintain the decorum of a chess piece or behatted royal wedding guest.
In the era of Instagram, “a lot of pastry is very over the top,” says Wood, with chefs “just adding shit for fun.” Her new shop on Jackson Street treats every croissant, cookie, and doughnut as a well-considered narrative: Gruyere bechamel hides in the center of a brioche doughnut; the pain au chocolate made, impressively, with rye flour has sweetness in its very structure, thanks to cocoa and melted chocolate in the dough. Croissant squares become a canvas for caramelized shallot jam and gruyere, or vanilla and almonds. Pastry chefs often get classified as master technicians or madcap entertainers. Wood, undoubtedly, is both.
A Florida native, Wood moved to Seattle intent on upping her baking game. Stints prepping sweets at Bakery Nouveau, then assembling Cafe Besalu’s revered croissants confirmed her happy place: The crossroads of dessert and laminated dough. Temple Pastries made its popup debut in 2018, then parlayed those events into wholesale contracts with coffee shops. But it’s hard to take too many creative risks with confections you have to transport across town then leave, unsupervised and unstyled, in somebody else’s case.
Wood had done popups at Broadcast Coffee, but never actually met the owner, Barry Faught, when he slid into her DMs asking if they could talk. “Her craftsmanship was so amazing,” Faught remembers. He was looking for a partner to offer something beyond coffee in a larger roastery space. The two found they were likeminded in matters of work culture and fair wages and forged a partnership for this new shop, which opened to crowds in October. Right now, Temple’s light-filled corner space serves takeout only, its laptop-friendly mezzanine currently off limits. Broadcast moved in from its former home across the street; it roasts beans in this building, and ensures Temple’s coffee hits the same high notes as the pastries.
Almost everything in the glass case is new to the shop; once Wood took possession of that permanent kitchen, with its better equipment and reliable oven, she tweaked every recipe in Temple’s canon in some fashion, except her classic croissant. Working with laminated dough, she says, is parts mathematical and intuitive. “There are so many ways it can go wrong. But when it goes right, it’s so satisfying.”
These days, the bicolor croissants that helped build her following are available only on weekends, as her brain buzzes with other ideas. Soba noodles, of all things, inspired one of Temple’s most uncommon seasonal combinations—a buckwheat flour croissant square coated with a megasavory hit of furikake. Wood balances that complexity with sweet potato, a puree topped with a baked sliver for extra drama. The result sweetens, without simplifying.