Thank god for Alamo Drafthouse.
It’s not the first time I’ve said it, and it won’t be the last. But this time I’m not just grateful for their reclining seats and well-stocked bar. I’m grateful for Allison Vick and her upcoming coffee shop, Little Blue Bakehouse.
Allison is the owner and baker of Little Blue Macaron, where she creates incredible macarons with flavors like browned butter vanilla, almond and berry jam, salted caramel, and more. Since 2018 she has worked out of the Kitchen Archive in Raleigh. While this commissary kitchen has been vital in building her business, it’s time to branch out. Allison is in the final stages of opening her own incubator kitchen next to Alamo Drafthouse and Oakheart Veterinary on New Bern Avenue.
Bringing Coffee and Baked Goods to South Raleigh
Little Blue Bakehouse will serve as a coffee shop offering local treats and baked goods (including her macarons!) as well as a member-based incubator kitchen. Complete with display cases for member merchandise as well as a coffee program, Little Blue Bakehouse will fill that ‘third space’ void that currently exists in South Raleigh.
And, in some part, we owe Alamo Drafthouse for bringing Allison back to Raleigh.
Raleigh Roots, Austin Influence
Allison and her husband, Carl, were high school sweethearts (“but not in a cult-y way”, she assured me) who both graduated from NC State before moving to Austin, Texas. They each spent years in corporate America before Allison pivoted to her true passion: baking.
Allison credits Theresa Farrell of Dede’s Table with giving her an intensive introduction to pastry. “She was the very first person I worked under when I quit my corporate job,” Allison said. “Not only did she teach me the base of everything that I know, she very much encouraged me to spend any extra time I had outside of work to practice anything we weren’t working on.” This encouragement led Allison to discover her love of bold shapes and colors and, of course, macarons.
As Allison and Carl decided to start having children, they knew moving back to Raleigh to be closer to their families would be a big help. “But I refused to move back to Raleigh until they opened an Alamo,” she said. Not long after, the Austin-based movie theater chain announced a new location on New Bern Avenue. Little could she know she’d one day open a business in its same shopping center.
It Takes a Village
“There’s space for all of us,” Allison told me, and her story – from those that have helped her along the way to the Little Blue Bakehouse’s collaborative nature – illustrates the cooperative sensibility of the Raleigh food industry.
Before going to State for a degree in textile and apparel design, Allison first worked for Sara Fitzgerald of The Cupcake Shoppe. “She took a chance on me even though my portfolio of work was laughable at best,” she said. “[Sara] was a wonderful mentor, and showed me what women-led entrepreneurship could and should look like. She’s still a big source of encouragement for us.”
Now Allison has the chance to pay it forward – but she could use a little help.
Members and Community
Announced last week, members of the Little Blue Bakehouse include:
These inaugural members, along with space for a fourth related business, will be able to use the kitchen at Little Blue Bakehouse as well as display their goods in the front of the store. Having all of these vibrant small businesses in one space will help rejuvenate South Raleigh, which incidentally is both Allison’s and my own part of town.
“We’re really excited to have a community spot that’s offering a full coffee program to the South Raleigh] community,” said Allison. With a Starbucks on the far end of New Bern and downtown coffee shops (with limited parking) on the other, Little Blue Bakehouse’s diversified products and coffee offerings will be a breath of fresh air for an otherwise underserved area of town.
With ever-expanding building and labor costs, Allison has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help get Little Blue Bakehouse over the finish line. As of publishing, they are 60% funded with 163 backers. I’ll be number 164.
She’s currently planning a series of soft openings through July with an eye toward an official grand opening before the holidays.
Make Your Own Macarons (Until Opening Day)
As we wait for Little Blue Bakehouse to open, you can still enjoy Allison’s macarons. Check Instagram for the weekly ‘Mac Report’ of where boxes of macarons (and which delicious flavors) will be sold across the Triangle. You can also contact Little Blue Macaron directly for custom orders.
If you’re the DIY type in the kitchen, Allison has provided the following French method macaron recipe to help you out:
French Macaron Recipe
- Macaron Shells
- • 150g Almond Flour
- • 150g Powdered Sugar
- • 110g Egg Whites
- • 100g Granulated Sugar
- • 1/4tsp Cream of Tartar
- Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar together into a bowl. These are your “dries.”
- Using a handheld or stand mixer, beat your egg whites with a whisk attachment on a high speed until they begin to look foamy (soft peaks).
- Add the cream of tartar.
- Slowly add the granulated sugar to the foamy egg whites while continuing to beat on a high speed.
- Continue beating until you achieve “stiff peaks” – your meringue will be bright white and a little glossy looking, and should form the shape of a bird’s beak on the tip when you separate the whisk from the bowl.
- Plop 1/2 of your meringue into your dries, and fold together gently until fully incorporated.
- Add the remaining 1/2 of your meringue to your mix, and very gently/slowly fold until incorporated. Your mix should flow, but not be very runny.
- Prepare a baking pan with either parchment and/or a silicon baking mat.
- Using a piping bag and a 1/2” piping tip, fill your bag with the macaron batter (“macaronage”), and pipe small circles – the size of a half dollar or less – onto your parchment or silicon mat.
- Allow shells to “rest” for 20 minutes. This gives them time to dry a bit, and for the outer shell to form before baking. Touch the macarons with your finger – if they’re still very wet/sticky, give them more drying time. If your finger comes away clean, they’re good!
- Bake at 300F for 6-7 minutes, then open the oven and rotate the tray. Bake another 6-7 minutes.
- Allow to cool completely, and then fill with a buttercream, ganache, or jam of your choice!
Have your own story to share? Reach out to us here. I had a great time talking to Allison about Little Blue Macaron and the upcoming Little Blue Bakehouse, and I’d love to talk with you, too!