Patchanida Chimkire caused a sensation on Instagram during the 2020 lockdown when her Mali Bakes account became a bright spot in an otherwise dark time. She started baking and delivering cookies around Melbourne, becoming known for her colourful vintage-style cakes.

Chimkire then went from a one-person operation to employing two (soon to be three) pastry chefs with a commercial kitchen and shopfront in Thornbury offering cakes by the slice every Saturday. But after three years of piping buttercream frills and topping cakes with maraschino cherries, she was ready for a new creative challenge.

In mid-June Chimkire opened a Mali Bakes cake window on Moor Street in Fitzroy. There are no elaborately decorated cakes at the neighbourhood window. Instead, Chimkire is using the shop as an opportunity to explore exciting flavour combinations and seasonal ingredients.

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The menu will change monthly, but the debut offering includes a matcha chiffon roll filled with sake-soaked cherries and white chocolate cream, a Thai tea custard tart, a small brioche treat filled with chocolate custard and, of course, a variety of layer cakes by the slice.

Mali Bakes treats. Photography: Amy Hemmings

Produce is sourced from Northside Fruit and Vegetables and the Alphington Market, so expect a few seasonal surprises. Recently, Chimkire was inspired by kissabel apples – “They’re so tart, like lollies!” she says – and added a ginger layer cake with lemon curd, cream cheese buttercream and kissabel apple jam, to the menu.

The cake window is reminiscent of the banana stand Michael Cera’s character works at in Arrested Development. Which is to say, it’s small. The space can comfortably fit no more than two people.

Custom vintage cakes will still be available to order online, but the professionally trained pastry chef is looking forward to using more of the skills she developed while working as savoury chef at nearby Proud Mary pre-Covid.

When Natalie Paull’s North Melbourne bakery Beatrix closed last year it created a hole in Melbourne’s cake-loving heart. Luckily Mali Bakes’s window, with its community feeling, fruit-forward bakes and focus on flavour, is here to help patch it up. “I want this space to be more about Mali Bakes as a collective, instead of being about just me,” Chimkire says.

Mali Bakes
195 Brunswick Street via Moor Street, Fitzroy

Wed to Sat 8am–3pm
Coffee available from 8am, cakes from 9am.