A Baker's Daughter: Recipes & Memories From A Family Bakery
(popular narrative cookbook)
The daughter of a beloved baker revives her father's famous recipes, and discovers her family's fierce love -- and its secrets.
"Thank you for your kindness to all that loved growing up with the memories that we have and you have made come true. I know your dad is looking down and so proud of the love you have shown to all of us!" Darlene, reader and home baker
Marcy's popular narrative cookbook about her family's bakery, her immigrant family and growing up a baker's daughter - Max Brenner of Brenner's Bakery, Alexandria, VA - complete with over 50 kitchen-sized recipes of the favorites from your childhood.
"This bakery conjures happy memories of my life. Having access to the recipes of my childhood is golden. The stories told along with the recipes show a family business that brought joy to its customers!"
What happens when a devoted daughter begins to revive her famous-baker-dad’s recipes, and instead uncovers a hidden family history?
In this case, a narrative cookbook—about people. Marcy Brenner’s devotion to her dad, Max, is evident from the first line to the last, but her journey of discovery goes back in time, to long before she tasted her first Chocolate Top Cookie. As she teaches herself to bake like a pro—by decoding Max’s cryptic, commercial recipe cards—she follows the story of generations of bakers who used love as their primary ingredient.
Meanwhile, she delivers the goods for generations of Brenner’s Bakery fans who have been waiting for years for “kitchen-sized” recipes that would make their favorites come back to life. In the process of sharing her discoveries, Marcy forever marries breads and sweets to her family members who craved them. Her chapters have names like “Miss Charlotte,” and “Sisters.” The narrative format also intermingles dozens of recipes with moving stories of Marcy’s parents’ deep Southern humanity, her grandparents’ struggles—and a Jewish ancestry buried by fear.
With unflinching empathy, she embraces the hope and loss that brought her Polish ancestors to America, and which connect her to a past she sensed, but never knew. She wonders aloud whether baking is in her genes, whether she’ll be able to pull off this experiment, and whether the cakes and cookies and croissants, doughnuts, breads, Boston Cream Pies, and macaroons will turn out. Maybe because true love never dies, they do.
For news, baking videos and to share YOUR STORY and memories about Brenner's Bakery.
by Marcy Brenner & Kristin Donnan
Editing and Design by Rockin' Dog Studios
Illustrations by Ginny Foard
Special Photos by Jessie Morrissey and Shane Moore
Photo Staging by Danielle
Photos from Brenner Family collection except where indicated
Sometimes librarians, publishers and booksellers don’t get it exactly right when they categorize and catalog books. A Baker’s Daughter: Recipes & Memories from a Family Bakery by Marcy Brenner & Kristin Donnan is listed as a cookbook and as a memoir. I would like to suggest a third category. It is a love story. The love happens on many levels, the reciprocal love of a father and his daughter, a man’s love of his life’s work, a family’s love of each other, a community’s love for that family and their bakery and finally Marcy’s love creating oven magic.
-- Grady Ormsby, music presenter, literary lover
Whenever you needed a loaf of marble rye, a bagful of molasses cookies (my favorite) or a birthday cake for someone special, you went to Brenner's in Alexandria, Virginia. And it was easy to find excuses to stop there for all the in-between times too. Part cookbook, part ode to her father Max, Marcy Brenner weaves love, joy and warm aromas into one satisfying volume.
-- Susan Stuck, Food writer and former Alexandria resident
Like an excellent cinnamon swirl, this memoir blends family history, loving memories and cherished original recipes - a delight for all of the senses.
-- Karen Jones, broadcast journalist and author
In A Baker's Daughter Marcy Brenner recreates the world of her childhood--a world of love, work, and most of all, of delicious bakery treats. - Pat Garber, nature writer and poet
Buy A Baker's Daughter to get the Chocolate Top Cookie recipe. Read it to feed your soul. - Sara Bernstein, screenwriter
Converting bakery-volume recipes for home cooks is no small feat, and fans of Brenner’s Bakery will undoubtedly love this book for enabling them to recreate their favorites to enjoy at home. But the real treat of A Baker’s Daughter is the stories. Told with Marcy’s remarkable clarity, wit, and introspection – in beautiful lyrical language that reflects her roots as a singer-songwriter – these tales of the family that made the bakery so beloved are as delicious and pleasurable as any of the sweet indulgences the bakery offered.
- Kati Wharton, Baking & Pastry Arts student
Marcy Brenner’s book tells the engaging and heartfelt story of an immigrant family making its way in the American century. Rich with photographs, first-hand accounts and recipes to die for, A Baker’s Daughter recalls a time before Starbucks and Big Box stores when family-owned businesses served as places of comfort, community and continuity for America’s burgeoning middle class. So grab a sweater, a cup of tea, and Marcy Brenner’s book. At least for a while, life will be sweet again.
Leslie Siddeley, consultant and writer living in Alexandria, VA
"A cake walk ..."
"A lively family account delivers a sweet, lingering taste of nostalgia."
"... memories of Alexandria treats."
"A love story ..."
4 out of 4 stars ...
Someone on the Facebook page "brenner's bakery memories" asked about Washington "Pie" (maybe called squares) the other day. It was more of a cake than a pie. My grandfather Louis Brenner (Pop) made them at the bakery location on 4th Street in SW Washington, DC, a mostly-wholesale bakery from the 1930s-40s before the end of WWII. The family lived upstairs. Pop would make everything through the night and put it all in the proof box and the sons would bake it all off in the morning. A great story and "recipe" that's in the book!