If you’ve ever sat up at Momofuku’s Ssam Bar in New York, licking your lips after a salty pork bun and wondering what’s for dessert – only to walk next door to David Chang’s famed sister venue Milk Bar to an array of sweeties from bacon bagel bombs and crack pie to cereal milk soft serve and boozy milkshakes – then you may well have had a similar epiphany to that of Melbourne couple, chef Toula Ploumidis and baker Orlando Artavilla.

After selling the cafe they opened together, Sugardough Panificio and Patisserie in Brunswick East, a year ago, the husband and wife team went on a research trip to America, visiting restaurants and cafes like Momofuku in New York and Tartine in San Francisco.

We’re getting the lowdown as we visit their brand new Spotswood venture, Candied Bakery, the day before opening. “Sorry, the coffee machine’s not working yet, but it’ll be up and running tomorrow,” Ploumidis promises of the shiny new machine that’ll soon be cranking out lattes using a local roast by Espresso Syndicate. “I was so blown away when I went to their little warehouse,” she explains, validating her choice. “They recycle everything, even the shells of their coffee beans go to the zoo for bedding for the elephants…and you need a good, strong coffee to go with really sweet things.”

Ploumidis is clearly excited as she talks of the new venture, which they’ve pinned as “an Aussie bakery with a twist”.

“We looked everywhere for an area that needed a bakery. We live in West Melbourne and the only other bakery [over here] is Sourdough Kitchen and that’s it in the west that’s organic. So we found this little spot.”

The spot, previously a barber shop, has been gutted and reworked to reflect a contemporary aesthetic, with interior advice by Foolscap Studio. This means polished concrete floors, a glass display cabinet and neon signage (designed by Beyond the Pixels), but with small touches like a condiment station and a tiered bread trolley to reflect the best elements of a true Aussie bakehouse. And it sits just a few doors down from local favourite, Duchess of Spotswood, on a strip that seems surprisingly busy on a Tuesday morning given its suburban locale.

Ploumidis looks over culpably to her mother working away in the kitchen and whispers, “She’s angry at me because we’re so far away from where we used to be [at Sugardough] and she lives in Coburg.”

But after seven years at Sugardough, Ploumidis and Artavilla decided to shift their focus to an area more in need of a good bakery than Brunswick. “We also wanted to get some really beautiful equipment, which we couldn’t have there [at Sugardough] because it was so small and we just wanted to make it a bit more fun. We thought, if we’re going to do it again, we’ve got to have a good time.”

And so they have sweetened the deal, adding a whole lot of sugar to their offering. At Candied, they’re making an array of baked goods like lamingtons, fruit buns, croissants and cookies (think chocolate and marshmallow with sea salt), as well as organic bread and focaccia slabs. They’ll also have soft serve, apple pie shakes (pastry and apple pulverised into a thickshake) and jelly donuts. “The American jelly donuts are a bit fluffier and they don’t use the seed and all the skin of the fruit, so you just get all the juiciness,” Ploumidis tells with a grin. “And we sold so many pies at Sugardough, so we thought we’d do that again, but we’ll make something different.” At Candied, they’ll be offering a lentil pie with fresh goats curd and an egg and bacon one for breakfast, with homemade ketchup.

“And we’re kind of big animal lovers… Orlando’s not vegetarian, but he doesn’t eat chicken because he loves them…so we’re only using beef and a little bit of pork here.”

Also on the menu is a grilled cheese sandwich with a pickled baby carrot on the side “to cut through the grease” and a few hot rolls. And though Ploumidis and Artavilla are starting afresh, they’ve brought one thing favourite with them from Sugardough. “We have to have Nutella croissants,” Ploumidis tells as she looks over to the shelf with two large tubs at the ready. “We’re also making blue cheese croissants this time.”

When asked if they’ll attempt the famous cereal milk soft serve coined by Momofuku, Ploumidis’s response is resolute. “It’s the best, but they thought of it first.” But true to their Aussie/American ethos at Candied Bakery, she states, “We’ll make malted milk soft serves instead, and I’d love to do one with Froot Loops one day.”

Candied Bakery
81a Hudsons Road, Spotswood
(03) 9391 1335

Hours
Wed to Sat 7.30am–5pm
Sun 8am–4pm

candiedbakery.com.au