Do I really need to use cake flour? What’s the difference between baking soda and baking powder? If I took the cake out an hour ago, but just noticed it’s raw in the middle, I can just put it back in, right? These are all questions I’ve asked my long-suffering, cake-queen friends over the years. But even our best friends have lives and can’t be our baking advisors 24/7.
So thank god for The Pantry, a haven for all things baking-related from the Flour and Stone team – the same people who brought us those much-loved panna cotta-soaked lamingtons and lemon-drizzle cake. The shop has replaced the bakery’s original Woolloomooloo space, which closed shortly after Sydney went into lockdown earlier this year. (You can still get all your Flour and Stone favourites down the road in the Flour and Stone Annexe.) And owner Nadine Ingram is hoping the store will be much more than somewhere to drop some cash.
“We want people to come in and ask us all their baking questions and create a sense of community,” Ingram tells Broadsheet. “I want to underpin all the products we have on our shelves with baking conversations – kind of like a hotline.”
The store is filled with the bread-and-butter of everything the home baker needs, from cake tins to Woodstock flour, old-school biscotti, hard-to-find St David butter, free range eggs from Dural, and Ingram’s famed plum puddings. There is a selection of Ingram’s favourite baking tomes, tea by Rabbit Hole, and cake pedestals by Kimberly Cruz. Each of Flour and Stone’s pastry chefs has been tasked with creating their own item, accompanied by a plaque telling its story. Take Sarah Ghantous, who’s baking lavosh crackers with the za’atar her grandmother has been making for more than 30 years.
“We aren’t just throwing anything on the shelves,” Ingram says. “We wanted it to be thoughtful and meaningful. It needs to be for the baker and it needs to have a story, preferably from someone we have a connection to.”
Over in the fridge, the team has curated a raft of products that will elevate the home baker’s creations to the next level – think buttermilk ricotta, pot-set yoghurt, passionfruit curd and lemon curd. But it’s the ready-to-roll pastry that’s flying off the shelves.
“The feedback so far is that it’s a godsend.” The sweet shortcrust pastry and all-butter puff pastry can be kept in the freezer for up to three months. “You can buy it, take it home and pretend you made it yourself,” Ingram says, laughing.
The shop opened in November. Sure to be popular are the DIY pavlova kits: a box filled with four pavlova nests and an instruction card. All the fillings – passionfruit and lemon curds, sherry custard, honeycomb and berry compote – are available in store.