One thing that’s certain about Sydney is its abundance of quality croissanteries. But that didn’t deter husband-and-wife duo Jiyoon and Frances Song from opening the doors to their laneway bakery, Layers, in St Leonards last April.

As the favoured spot approaches its first birthday, it takes a new form as it rebrands to Moon Phase. The name change is accompanied by an expansion into the space next door and a fresh coat of white paint, doubling down on its minimalist aesthetics and reflecting a new, refined focus for the bakery.

When Layers first opened, it was meant to be more than just pastries. “It was actually meant to be a proper cafe that also served cakes and macrons, which are my other specialties,” Frances tells Broadsheet. “But pastries got out of control. [Rebranding] to Moon Phase shows there are more stages to us – it’s not just pastries.”

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Jiyoon, a coffee wizard, personally roasts his own blend for the cafe using beans from Headlands Coffee. With a background in musical theatre and film, he became a barista and coffee roaster after meeting Frances in Seoul in 2011. “I told him, ‘You cannot do musical theatre in Australia, you will not succeed so please choose something else’. [He’s] good at coffee, [he likes] coffee, so why not coffee?”

Frances is the creative mind behind the laminated creations. Take the cafe’s signature chocolate bar, which is an update on the classic French pain au chocolat. Unhappy with the uneven distribution of pastry and chocolate in the traditional variety, Frances played with the format, weaving her pastry with milk chocolate batons and hiding a generous slab of Callebaut milk chocolate inside. While the chocolate bar appears laborious, it didn’t take all that long. “We knew what we wanted. Jiyoon is really good at constructing things in his head, and then I said to Elwin [Ung, pastry chef] can you please put it together. It kind of just happened.”

Another standout is the eye-catching tiramisu croissant that features Callebaut chocolate shards embedded into smooth and creamy squiggles of Chantilly mascarpone.

Frances proudly shows off her heritage through savoury danishes. The Korean spicy pork features stir-fried gochujang-marinated pork with garlic and onion, and the triple “kimcheese” brings a mix of stir-fried kimchi, chilli, gruyere, mozzarella and parmesan.

Then, there’s the yakgwa-ssant, inspired by a traditional Korean flower-shaped, syrup-soaked sweet that’s usually deep-fried and rich with flavours of ginger and honey. Frances’s version is twice-baked and filled with cinnamon crumble. Atop is burnt ginger caramel and a generous serve of toasted pine nuts, pecans and both sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and a sesame-oil glaze.

Nothing at Moon Phase is a rush job – each buttery creation takes five days to make. “The dough itself takes two days to prepare,” Frances says. “Then we do the lamination, cut it, prepare it and then bake.”

Frances’s other specialties, which are currently made to order, include macarons and multi-textured chiffon cakes layered with fresh cream. She hopes to make these readily available soon – and with “more surprises and layers of flavours”.

Moon Phase
96-98/545 Pacific Highway, St Leonards

Daily 7.30am–2pm