OWNER MAKRÖNCHEN MANUFAKTUR
OWNER MAKRÖNCHEN MANUFAKTUR
Meet Berlin's first macarons baker Laura, owner of the cosy café and bakery Makrönchen Manufaktur
„These are not macarons, these are Makrönchen“, this and a smile is what you’ll get from Laura Leising if you talk to her about those delicious little almond meringues. And there’s definitely a very unique style about her and her brand new manufacture. Even though you can’t – and why should you anyway – redefine this sweet French delicacy, Laura has developed a recipe on her own, involving less sugar and more ground almonds than your average recipe suggests. She has thoroughly worked on perfecting all other relevant techniques to obtain her truly outstanding Madagascar vanilla cream or the dark chocolate macarons.
There clearly is substance behind the dainty appearance and sweet pastel colours – and this is what attracts visitors and journalists alike. Ever since Makrönchen was born, selling first at little markets or in local delis in 2011, the local press and foodies adored it. Now, with the opening of the café earlier this year, with the delivery service starting in summer 2012, Makrönchen might be facing an avalanche-like attention.
Laura Leising showed us around in her adorably furnished café and a modern kitchen harbouring two baker ladies and hundreds of cooling macarons (and a gorgeous smell of pastry), invited us to taste some new salty creations and talked to us about starting a business in Berlin, the biggest amount of macarons ordered so far and her favourite places in her hometown.
WHY AND HOW DID YOU DECIDE TO START A PASTRY BUSINESS IN BERLIN?
The wish to be my own boss is mega-old with me! I’ve become a trained hotel manager; I’ve studied business administration and marketing continuously asking myself if I wanted to be a top manager in a big corporation. I figured out very early that it wasn’t my cup of tea and I’d rather be the boss of a little world of my own. And even my final paper was a business plan for a wedding café – but I guess I lacked the courage back then. So I spent a few years in the marketing department of a publishing house. As the time passed, the wish for independence grew stronger, along with some frustration. Now it happens that I enjoy baking very much. When my friends and family tasted my macarons their reaction was clear: These need to be available for purchase!
SO THIS WAS THE TURNING POINT TO START WORK IN DOING SOMETHING YOU LOVED?
Yes, and it was a gut decision. I thought I’d give it a go. But it’s been a soft start – baking in a rental kitchen at first and selling at weekly markets. The makrönchen became very popular among the customers quite soon, followed by requests from local delis and orders for weddings and events. After merely 6 weeks from the start I was already approached by the Tip Berlin editors (a local city magazine, editor’s note). It was also the press who told me that the idea was great but definitely needed a “base”, a café or a store. So I ended up looking for a cosy place where a bakery and a little café would fit.
DID YOUR FAMILY SUPPORT YOUR DECISION?
Absolutely. My parents helped in the beginning – mum would help me baking the bigger orders in that rental kitchen and dad would help deliver them. The biggest support comes from my boyfriend: the decision to start my own business means cuts on family planning and holiday time.
WHY HAVE YOU PICKED THIS NEIGHBOURHOOD?
First of all because I live here and love it, it’s a great mixture of old and new, of traditional local businesses and new and glossy stuff. It’s also a great neighbourhood because the Akazienstrasse just around next corner is a gourmet’s delight.
IN THE PHOTO GALLERY YOU CAN SPOT WEDDINGS AND EVENTS. WHAT’S POPULAR FOR WEDDINGS TODAY?
Macarons in little jars are the new trend in giveaways for the guests; macarons on a stick are great for kids. But we’ve also created wedding cakes and big macaron cones for the weddings. Also very popular at weddings are the sweets buffets with colourfully matched macarons.
THERE’S BEEN A TABLE BURSTING WITH “MAKRÖNCHEN” OFFERED IN A MARY-ANTOINETTE STYLE AT THE BERLIN FASHION WEEK DURING A FASHION PRESENTATION. WHAT’S BEEN THE BIGGEST COMMISSION SO FAR?
It’s also been fashion-related – we had a commission for the Escada store, they had ordered 1000 macarons for their fashion’s night out event.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE FLAVOUR?
Vanilla! [Laughs] It’s my all-time favourite. I suppose that’s why my Madagascar vanilla makrönchen are that tasty! But I also like yoghurt-red currant or passion fruit now in summer.
WHAT’S NEXT IN MAKRÖNCHEN’S UNIVERSE? WHAT’S COMING UP IN AUTUMN?
This summer’s flavours are based on trendy summer drinks – Hugo (elder and mint) and Aperol Spritz. In the end of summer we will be offering vineyard peach-Prosecco and lavender macarons. The next big thing are the salty flavours! We’re already working on that – we think to start offering them end of September.
YOU HAVE CREATED YOUR OWN MACARON RECIPE. WHY?
I really love baking. It’s pretty much about science and accuracy and it’s fascinating to explore the limits of a recipe to make it your own. And I love macarons but my experience was that, in France, they were way too sweet for me. Especially since the size of the macarons really begs for me to taste as much flavours as I could! Still, there’s not much you can change, it’s basically an almond meringue with filling. My recipe uses more almonds and less sugar.
IS BAKING MACARONS COMPLICATED?
You need to know a few tricks but then no, it’s not complicated, if only time consuming. What bugs me a lot is when you look up macaron recipes in books and on the Internet, you’ll find that a lot of things are messed up. (Laughs.) I think to maybe offer baking classes. I could also think of a book.
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Macaron vs. macaroon
Don’t be confused! A macaroon describes a variety of – often local – pastry recipes made from nuts, almonds or coconut ground, powdered or grated (the word itself comes from the Italian verb “amaccare”, to crush) with sugar and egg whites, often dipped in chocolate or put onto edible paper. While it’s etymologically correct, gourmets prefer to refer to confectionery like Makrönchen as a macaron – to underline its French origin but also to avoid confusion.
For a cup of freshly brewed coffee
Double Eye, Akazienstraße 22
A sweet weekly market
Arkonaplatz Market, Arkonaplatz 10435 Berlin/ Fridays 10 am to 4 pm
An amazing florist
Florale Welten, Nürnberger Str. 50-55
Best homemade jams and chutneys
Feinschlicht, Sonnenalle 133
Scandinavian playful furniture and gifts
Kilda, Hufelandstr. 17
Italian restaurant with a lot of Italy to it
Osteria Ribaltone, Viktoria-Louise-Platz/ Motzstr. 54
A place to propose
Biberbau, Durlacher Str. 15
La Cocotte, Vorbergstr. 10
My recent passion
swing dance at Frannz Club, Schönhauser Alle 36
A characteristic Berlin bar in the former La Dietrich neighbourhood
Jansen Bar, Gotenstr. 71
—by Nath Fedorova
Photos: Nath Fedorova; Courtesy of Makrönchen Manufaktur