There's no better example of Melbourne's cultural melting pot than Brunswick's Sydney Road. Nepalese, Indonesian, Malaysian and Greek restaurants sit side-by-side. But ask someone on the street where to find the best value-for-money Lebanese snacks and they're likely to point you in the direction of A1 Bakery.
Originally founded by two sisters and their husbands, A1 has been feeding hungry locals since 1992. Traditional pizzas and falafel abound, but for a couple of gold coins the spinach pies are little triangles of ecstasy. The filling can be made in bulk using fresh leaves, onion and lemon juice. Once baked, a zesty sumac and cinnamon aroma comes from the golden pasty making it hard to stop at one. Although best served hot, they also make perfect snacks for school lunchboxes.
Makes 20 triangles
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp dried yeast
2 tbsp vegetable oil, plus extra to brush the pastry
900ml warm water
1kg white or wholemeal plain flour
1 tsp fine salt
1kg baby spinach leaves, shredded
2 brown onions, finely diced
125ml lemon juice
3 tbsp vegetable oil
5 tsp ground sumac
2 tsp salt flakes
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp Lebanese seven spice (baharat)
To make the dough, combine the honey, yeast, oil and water in a large jug. Add the flour and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed with the dough hook while gradually adding the liquid, increasing the speed to medium as the mix comes together. If the mix becomes too wet, just add a little more flour. Mix for about 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and relatively soft. Cover with a tea towel and rest for 30–40 minutes.
Once rested, gently turn the dough out onto a floured benchtop. Portion the dough into 100g pieces and roll into balls. Roll each ball in flour and rest on a floured surface somewhere warm, covered, to prove for about 20–30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 260°C fan forced (280°C conventional). Line two baking trays with baking paper.
While the dough rests, add all the filling ingredients to a large bowl and mix thoroughly with your hands. Stand for 10 minutes before tipping into a large colander to drain off any excess liquid.
Take a ball of rested dough and roll out into a circle about 22cm–23cm in diameter. Place a generous handful (about ¾ cup) of the filling in the middle and flatten out into a triangle with the points at 12, 4 and 8 o'clock. Pick up the edges of the dough at 10 o'clock and 2 o'clock and fold over the filling. Pinch the edges together and then fold the 6 o'clock flap over. Pinch the corners and seams together so the parcel doesn't leak and lightly brush with oil. Repeat for the remaining dough and filling. Bake on the prepared trays for about 15 minutes until golden.
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