Standing in front of the pastry case at Columbia City Bakery in Seattle, I couldn’t decide what I wanted. Croissant? Scone? No, no. And then I saw it: A thick slab of heavenly brioche topped with orange flower syrup, almond paste and toasted almonds. That’s it.
We bought just one piece and the three of us shared it. That meant only a few bites each. But that tall slice of brioche was so rich and satisfying that I actually could and did walk away without ordering a second round, sipping the last of my latte and savoring that last bite in memory.
The bakery is more known for its pointy, crackling crisp baguettes and ciabatta than for its pastries. Crowded all the time, Columbia City Bakery is not at all a fancy place. They sell the bread to some restaurants, but not to supermarkets or chains. If you want a baguette, you have to visit the bakery or pick up one at Sitka & Spruce at the Melrose Market food hall across town in the Pike-Pine neighborhood.
I kept thinking as I was eating that morning pastry, how can I replicate this? First of all, I’d have to bake a tall loaf of brioche, no mean feat. Or I could find brioche at a bakery and make my own orange flower syrup and almond paste. But then it would be hard to stop at just one slice. Even better, why doesn’t somebody adopt the idea (with credit to Columbia City Bakery) and spread the pleasure around?