During lockdown, bake sales across Sydney – from Sixpenny in the inner west to Marta in Potts Point and Cavalier in Crows Nest – gave us something to look forward to on weekends. But a clutch of Sydney bakers – both self-taught and professional – also turned to Instagram to sell croissants, loaves and cakes they turned out of their home kitchens. Here’s five to try.
In his early Instagram posts, Blood’s Bakery owner Alex Lynn shares his baking evolution, comparing loaf-shaping techniques, experimenting with hydration levels and assessing the appropriate wobble on unbaked loaves or trays of croissants. Lynn now singlehandedly churns out 70 loaves a week, plus pastries, from his apartment kitchen. Everything is hand-mixed because Lynn prefers it that way, but the kitchen is kitted out with serious equipment, including an oven imported from Belgium and three fridges. He is as passionate about quality ingredients as he is about baking bread; he works with growers and producers from all over NSW. The menu changes often, but might include whole-wheat sourdough; rye-porridge sourdough; black sesame and sea-salt palmiers; and hojicha-caramel croissant-and-butter puddings. Watch out for collaborations with local producers such as Maxim Mushrooms and Red Claw Seafoods. Order via Instagram DM.
The timing for Momofuku Seiobo’s final dinner service was fortuitous – it was slated for June 26, the day all of Sydney went into lockdown (though the last dinner ended up being June 25). After closing, pastry chef Samantha Levett planned to go on holidays, but instead she started selling pastry boxes on Instagram. She describes the offering as her creative outlet, “quite random, sometimes a tart or a choux bun … whatever I feel like”. That could mean a yuzu and strawberry custard tart, passionfruit cruller, or carrot cake with cream-cheese icing. Levett is trialling summer-fruit Christmas tarts, so keep an eye out for pre-orders. The weekly menu is released on Saturday at 11am and orders are via DM. Delivery or pick-up from Waterloo.
Ben Lai approaches croissant making with the precision of an engineer – which makes sense, as he’s a trained software engineer. For example, to control things like temperature and humidity he’ll put a thermometer in the dough during bulk fermentation and plot the temperature on a chart. The number patterns he sees help him perfect golden croissants with shells so flaky they shatter. Each month, Lai releases a menu of pastries that can be purchased by the piece or the box. Once orders are full for the month, you’ll have to wait until the next release. Past months have included various riffs on classic croissants, with flavours such as almond, cardamom and maple-bacon, plus other confections such as olive-oil brioche stuffed with dark-chocolate mousse, and caramel-vanilla-chocolate ganache. The order form is released on the 10th of each month for the following month. Delivery available, or pick-up from Macquarie Shopping Centre.
Lockdown almost stopped Rosie Meehan from starting her cake business altogether, but then she thought she should do something “so people can have a little bit of happiness in lockdown”. Happiness comes in the form of cherry-topped sponge cakes, neatly iced with pastel butter cream. The cakes look simple, but the ingredients are elaborate. There’s Cremino, a hazelnut-soaked sponge cake, layered with whipped, caramelised chocolate ganache, gianduja (a premium hazelnut spread) iced with brown-sugar Swiss-meringue buttercream; or Honey Pot, a spiced-honey cake with a lemon soak covered in salted extra-virgin olive oil buttercream. Meehan learnt her trade at Violet Cakes in London – the bakery famous for making Harry and Meghan’s elegant wedding cake. Order four, six or eight-inch cakes via the online order form. Delivery, or pick-up from Rozelle.
When Isabella Leva and fiancé John Laureti were stood down from their jobs at Pt Leo Estate on the Mornington Peninsula last year, they moved back to Leva’s parents’ place in Sydney and started selling pastry boxes and sourdough from home. The PD Most Wanted box has four tarts, including pistachio, banoffee and raspberry and basil. The second box changes fortnightly and might include an excellent apple turnover, a honey cruller and an orange cake with chocolate ganache. Leva’s set-up is better equipped than most home operations, with two deck ovens, a proofer, and a laminating machine. Eventually the plan is to move Pane Dolce and her equipment to a terrace space in Lewisham. Order via website. Delivery or pick-up from Earlwood, Friday to Sunday.