Decades of feeding people in Madison stir recipes

Kristine M Kierzek

Barb and Mike Pratzel closed Manna Cafe in Madison last year, but she turned the recipes into a cookbook, “Manna Cafe and Bakery Cookbook: A Memoir of Two Businesses, a Community, and the Food That Connected Them.

For more than three decades, Barb Pratzel has fed her community. It all goes back to Collins House, the Madison area bed-and-breakfast where many of her recipes have their roots.

When their 20-year lease with the city was up, she and her husband, Mike, closed the B&B and moved on to the next venture: Manna Cafe. They built the business based on from-scratch cooking, a neighborhood staple known for its breads and breakfasts. Then the pandemic hit in 2020.

Approaching retirement, the Pratzels chose to close their beloved Manna Cafe. That was the impetus Pratzel needed.

She got to work on her first cookbook, writing out her recipes and the stories behind them. From sticky buns and quiche to challah, matzo ball soup and their famous oatmeal pancakes, nearly 150 recipes are featured in “Manna Cafe and Bakery Cookbook: A Memoir of Two Businesses, a Community, and the Food That Connected Them” available Oct. 21 through Mineral Point based Little Creek Press Books, $32, It can be ordered at littlecreekpress.com/bookstore.

Question: What inspired the cookbook project?

Answer: All along people would say you should do a cookbook. I did want to write, but a cookbook wasn’t the thing I was thinking about. I always had writing in the back of my mind. I didn’t know what that was until we knew we were closing. Then it all suddenly gelled. Not only would this be a wonderful opportunity for us to be able to write, but here are hundreds of regular customers who were begging for the recipes.

Q: What was the number one recipe you had to include?

A: The oatmeal pancakes, the most requested recipe from our bed-and-breakfast guests. A close second was the pumpkin chocolate chip muffins …

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