THERE IS MUCH to admire about The Flora Bakehouse. It’s adorable, from the botanical mural by artist Carolina Silva up to its pink-railed rooftop deck. It’s notable in its neighborhood, across the street from Cleveland High School in a building that’s been vacant for at least a decade. Its sizable commissary kitchen window offers actual daylight for bakers and viewing entertainment for passerby. And, of course, its glorious pastry selection of seasonal, inclusive-for-most-diets possibilities. Every visit witnesses its slow evolution, weighing current restaurant realities against the all-day cafe that owner Nat Stratton-Clarke and head baker Lesley Pettigrew envision.
Whether talking about rainbow cookies sold in June as a benefit for Camp Ten Trees, working with school administrators to equitably support Cleveland’s programs or digging into the menu — all sorts of new savory toasts, including pimento cheese and roasted tomato; a bottle shop for those who want a glass of wine on the deck; a cardamom-rose latte that began as seasonal but is too popular to abandon — Stratton-Clarke and Pettigrew strike a balance between practicalities, pride and sentiment.
With Cafe Flora’s institutional status in Seattle vegetarian dining, it’s no surprise that the Bakehouse offers vegan and gluten-free goods and follows the local harvest calendar (look for a kabocha croissant, with squash sourced from Mair Farm-Taki — it’s one of Pettigrew’s favorites). One year-round pastry? The kouign-amann, a splendid weekends-only treat with a dark, crisp toffee topping. Pettigrew first ate the regional French pastry in Japan, and her Seattle Central College pastry instructor hadn’t heard of them. She says this led to much trial and error, which I say was worth every minute.
They’re both quick to spread credit around, name-checking farms and restaurants, mentioning Sea-Tac International Airport employees as regulars at Floret even as travel collapsed (the Bakehouse functions as commissary for the airport cafe and grab-and-go stall) and Christina Tosi’s blue-cheese-kimchi croissant as the inspiration for Pettigrew’s splendid savory scone. Those intense flavors mellow into a rich, well-balanced treat.
Pettigrew wants every ingredient chilled — including the flour and sugar — up to the point of baking. I did my best with limited fridge and freezer space, and ultimately do what you can, but don’t skip that final two-hour chill (my dough fit neatly in the freezer on a cutting board).
Kimchi Blue Cheese Scone
Makes 12 scones
The Bakehouse makes its own vegan kimchi; look for one marked “vegan” if you prefer to avoid shrimp paste.
1 cup kimchi
3 ounces smoked cheddar, grated, divided use
3.5 ounces blue cheese, crumbled, divided use
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon gochugaru (Korean red pepper flakes)
¼ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup buttermilk
½ cup cream, plus more for brushing
1 stick (8 oz.) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
1. Drain kimchi and chop finely, draining off all liquid released during chopping. Gently combine 1 tablespoon each chopped kimchi, smoked cheddar and blue cheese, and refrigerate for later use.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, soda, salt, gochugaru and sugar. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, cream and eggs.
3. Pulse flour mixture and butter cubes in food processor. Continue until mixture has butter chunks the size of peas and smaller. Add remaining cheeses and pulse a few times, then transfer to a mixing bowl. Break up remaining large chunks of butter by hand. Add kimchi, and gently toss with a spatula to combine. Add liquids all at once, and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.
4. Turn onto a lightly floured surface, and gently bring together until a rough dough is formed. Place on a parchment sheet, and roll out to a rectangle 1 inch thick, and 7-by-10.5 inches across, keeping corners square. Freeze for 2 hours, until nearly solid, but able to cut through.
5. Heat oven to 350℉. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Remove dough from freezer. With a sharp knife, cut into 3.5-inch squares, then cut each square into 2 triangles. Place 6 scones on each baking sheet, so they don’t crowd each other. Brush top of each lightly with cream, then sprinkle on reserved kimchi-cheese mixture. Bake for 15 minutes, rotate pans (top to bottom and front to back) and bake for an additional 15 minutes until golden brown and firm to the touch.
— Courtesy Lesley Pettigrew, The Flora Bakehouse