When Broadsheet visits Prove’s new bakery on Magill Road, co-owner Anna Rogers has just closed up for the day. But the locked door doesn’t stop people from trying to get their hands on one of pastry chef Megan Bowditch’s glistening, golden creations.
Our interview is interrupted approximately eight times by would-be customers knocking on the door – most of them nearby residents and workers from neighbouring shops – to score a crusty baguette, flaky croissant or seasonal Danish.
“There’s been lots of locals – because they can smell it, or they’re walking past and can see activity during the week – but someone came down from Salisbury,” says Rogers. “I was like, ‘Oh do you have something else on [around here]?’ and they were like, ‘No we’ve come for your pastries!’”
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Since Prove moved its operations from a co-working space in Port Adelaide to Stepney earlier this year and introduced limited retail hours, that’s been the scene every Saturday morning. Luckily for the neighbourhood – and everyone else – there’s now more opportunity to score one of these coveted pastries and loaves, with new opening hours on Friday mornings.
“If that door is at all ajar, people are coming in,” Rogers continues. “And as soon as one person’s in, more people come in … So even if we didn’t want to do retail we’re sort of forced to do retail,” she says with a laugh. “It’s been a baptism of fire!”
For the uninitiated, Prove launched in October 2020 and almost immediately began supplying its pastries to some of the best in the business – Exchange Coffee, Paddy Barry’s and Carton Deli among them. The new store marks Rogers and Bowditch’s first time as owner-operators. The pair – a former corporate lawyer and former Market Street pastry chef (who also spent some time working with pastry queen Anna Polyviou at Sydney’s Shangri-la Hotel), respectively – met playing hockey, and quickly discovered their shared passion for pastry.
For Rogers, who works front-of-house at the shop, it’s been heartening to finally meet customers on Prove territory and share the baking process with them via the huge open kitchen. “People like our products, but it’s also about taking them on that journey – that it’s 72 hours [to make] a croissant,” she says. “We’re really excited about bringing this aspect to the world ... there’s nowhere to hide.”
Next to the kitchen is a tiny shopfront for grab-and-go. “Our focus is totally on the product and on quality and what we put in,” says Rogers. “We use really good quality produce for the doughs for the pastry, and I think that’s what’s helped us stand out from the crowd.”
Ingredients include Rohde’s free-range eggs, Fleurieu milk and flour from Laucke, Flinders Ranges Premium Grain and Small World Bakery. Everything’s local except for the French-imported butter. The result is a luminous line-up of croissants (plain, pain au chocolat, choc-raspberry and almond), scrolls (cinnamon, butterscotch and the occasional baklava special), and seasonal danishes like rhubarb and pistachio, and pear and honey crumble.
There are also one-off savoury specials; when Broadsheet visits there’s a beef-ragu pastry, made with sauce from Italian restaurant Ambrosini’s across the road, and za'atar and feta, inspired by the flavours found next door at Lebanese restaurant Arz. “We’ve got really good relationships with all of our neighbours, and that’s really important to us,” says Rogers.
Since moving to Stepney, the team has also started baking bread – 100 per cent sourdough plain, seeded and rye loaves, plus baguettes, ciabatta and specials like olive and rosemary fougasse – which has been selling out every Saturday. Apologies in advance if it just got harder to get your hands on one.
157/159 Magill Road Stepney
Fri & Sat 8am–12pm, or until sold out