Linke’s Bakery and Tearooms, Nuriootpa

40 Murray Street, Nuriootpa, South Australia

I found this bakery cafe for breakfast. Linke’s Bakery has been operating since 1938, as a small sign inside proclaims proudly. Apparently everyone in Nuriootpa was part of the Linke family back then, because across the road is the Linke Butcher, and around the corner is Linke’s Building and Construction.

Linke's Bakery

The bakery does a line in muesli or bacon and eggs and various other breakfast goodies, but I sacrificed the chance for an eggs Benedict to try their sausage roll and vanilla slice. The bakery goods all look really good here, with mouth watering sweet tarts and slices galore, and a full range of hot savoury pies with obviously hand-crimped pastry tops. Given this promising selection, I was looking forward to reviewing the twin quest items.

Vanilla slice: Linke's Bakery

I sat in, so the roll and slice were served on plates, complete with serviettes and cutlery. Naturally I eschewed the knife and fork for the true hand-held experience. The sausage roll looked, it has to be said, uninspiring. It was a dull, flat affair, with pale yellow-brown, limp looking pastry that looked decidedly unflaky. It came with a half-hearted garnish of three cucumber slices topped by a bit of grated carrot on the side, though to be fair I’m sure they don’t get many people ordering sausage rolls to eat in.

Sausage roll: Linke's Bakery

Biting into the roll revealed my worst pastry fears, as it was a soggy layer with a barely crisp outer shell, and none of the true flaky layers of a really good sausage roll. The roll, however, lifted its game with a confrontingly herbed sausage of piping hot minced meat. It was mostly herbaceous but with a touch of black pepper, and small chunks of onion and carrot mixed in. Put that in a better pastry and this would have been a top notch roll. The texture was slightly on the soft side, perhaps evidence of a little bit of cereal filler, but the flavour packed a very pleasant punch and saved this one from an overall negative score. This sausage roll would go well accompanied by a powerful spicy Shiraz, like the wines they produce locally here in the Barossa Valley.

Turning to the vanilla slice, this was presented sliced diagonally and artfully plated in a stack, which was… interesting. The construction was two layers of pastry with a single thick block of bright lolly banana yellow custard in between. It was topped with a moderately thick (2mm) layer of white icing and sprinkled with desiccated coconut, giving it an unusual snow-capped appearance. On the first bite the pastry yielded just enough to avoid squeezing the thick custard out. The custard was a little solid and a touch on the rubbery side, but not horribly so. It meant you could eat the slice without custard oozing out everywhere and falling on your trousers – instead you got a snowfall of coconut.

Vanilla slice: Linke's Bakery

The coconut and the white vanilla icing dominated the flavour profile, rendering the whole a little too sugary as they overpowered the custard. The custard tasted fine on its own, but didn’t have the chance to shine through the sweetness of the icing, which was a tad too thick. The pastry was understated, but did its job reasonably well, being nicely flaky and not too firm, if anything it was slightly on the soggy side, but not terribly so. The overall flavour of a full mouthful was strongly and pleasantly vanilla, but may have been held more by the icing than the custard.

Overall, positives for both roll and slice, but each one let down by an ingredient that could definitely have been better: the bland pastry for the roll, and the overpowering icing for the slice.

Sausage roll: 7/10
Vanilla slice: 6/10
Reviewer: DMM

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