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Almond Shortbread

Mani Niall, dubbed Baker to the Stars by Eating Well magazine in 1992, owned and operated a very successful bakery with a 20 year run. As the founder of Manis Bakery in Los Angeles in 1989, Niall created and refined a style of baking which has never been repeated in a retail bakery format.

He learned his craft alongside Chef Akasha Richmond (of Los Angeles celebrated Akasha restaurant), at the Golden Temple, a classic old school vegetarian restaurant. They revamped the restaurant, making a name for themselves as innovative chefs and attracting an eclectic Hollywood clientele. Michael Jackson, a restaurant regular while he was recording Thriller in a nearby studio, whisked Niall off to become his first private chef.

After several years as a private chef and caterer, Niall noticed a lack of great baked goods within the natural and organic foods sphere. Most places were devoted to one culinary idea, such as whole grain, low fat or vegan. Niall decided first and foremost he would open a great bakery with an all-inclusive menu celebrating good food
no matter what your dietary choices you would find something in the bakery case. With this credo he opened Manis Bakery, an organic, artisan venture located on Fairfax in Los Angeles. The bakery has been profiled in Food & Wine, Details, LA Times, the Hollywood Reporter, People, Vogue, Pastry Arts, Shape, Elle, Longevity and Vegetarian Times.

Since then he has written three cookbooks, which reveal the world of baking with natural and organic ingredients - Sweet & Natural Baking (the Manis Bakery cookbook), Covered in Honey (exploring the world of varietal honeys) and Sweet! (discovering how to bake with sugars from around the globe). The fourth cookbook, Good Morning Baking, is on the way spring 2013.

Niall built a gingerbread country estate for a San Francisco Millennium party, developed heirloom tomato pasta sauces and vegetarian entrees for food manufacturers and is on the chef panel at the Center for Culinary Development. Mani's newest venture, Sweet Bar Bakery is located in Oakland, California. His deliciously sweet bakery is located in the former home of Historic MacFarlanes Candy and Ice Cream and serves up unique and artisan pastries.


  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Lightly butter a jelly roll pan or 9-inch springform pan. Divide the almonds into two batches.
  3. In a food processor or in a blender, pulse half the almonds and 2 tbsp of the whole wheat pastry flour until finely ground into a meal. Repeat with the remaining almonds and another 2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and add the remaining whole wheat pastry flour and the unbleached flour, whisk to combine.
  5. Using a standing mixer or a handheld mixer, beat the butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the organic sugar and beat until the mixture is lighter in color, about 2 minutes. Using the paddle attachment, fold the flour mixture in gently to form a stiff dough do not over-mix.
  6. Press the dough evenly and firmly into the prepared pan. Use a fork to make the dough into 8 equal pieces.Lightly dust with extra sugar crystals if desired.
  7. Bake until the edges are lightly browned and begin to shrink from the sides of the pan, about 20 to 25 minutes. Cool on a wire cake rack for 5 minutes and remove the sides of the pan. Cut through the markings with a thin, sharp knife and divide into 8 equal pieces. Cool completely.


  • 1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour divided
  • 1 cup unbleached white flour
  • 1 3/4 stick (7 oz) unsalted organic sweet cream butter room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Wholesome! Organic Cane Sugar
    Organic Cane Sugar
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