142 Malabar Rd, South Coogee, New South Wales
A sunny late autumn morning is perfect for a morning tea, and for exploring new bakeries. We took a drive over to Coogee and continued south to the Bakehouse South Coogee, which sits on a traditional corner store site surrounded by residential properties, and right across the street form the sprawling old Randwick Cemetery, which is situated on a gentle hillside with wonderful views.
The bakehouse is busy, with plenty of locals popping in for a coffee and a croissant or something a bit more substantial. Besides bread and pasties, the bakers do an impressive line in cakes, with a couple of dozen mouth-watering varieties all on display. One is an amazing looking multi-colour iced rainbow cake, which is also available by the slice, sitting right next to the huge vanilla slices.
There’s a good selection of pies, as well as a sausage roll, and the “savoury of the month” appears to be a cheese and bacon sausage roll. But I opt for the traditional sausage roll, plus of course one of the mouth-watering looking vanilla slices. Mrs Snot Block & Roll elects for an equally delicious looking almond croissant and a cup of coffee. We take a table which backs onto a seat in the box window, offering us a sunny view of the street outside.
The roll looks generous and comes served with a side salad on a plate, which was added without requesting it. The pastry is a golden light brown and acceptably flaky looking, with generously stuffed meat filling peering out the ends, showing nicely browned crispy bits. I warm up by eating some fo the salad, which is a simple affair of mixed lettuce, tomato, and cucumber chunks with a vinaigrette dressing.
Tucking into the roll, the pastry is delicate and buttery, with a nice melt-in-the-mouth flakiness. The meat, however, is very soft and slightly grainy with a fine texture. It’s moist enough but has bigger problems. It’s not 100% meat, but mixed with flour or fine breadcrumbs or something – the texture is really quite odd and like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. The flavour is savoury with a hint of tomato, a sort of generic savoury with no real depth or particular hints of spices. There are big chunks of onion and a few finely chopped green herbs, but the flavour is not great. Then I realise what it reminds me of: a lump of seasoned poultry stuffing. A real shame because the pastry is so good. Mrs SB&R reports her croissant is delicious, so it seems they really know their way around pastry, but when it comes to sausage roll meat there’s plenty of room for improvement.
Moving on the vanilla slice, it is tall and generously long, constructed of three layers of thick biscuity pastry and two of a creamy white custard, topped with dusted icing sugar. It looks great. Intimidatingly, it seems too large to pick up safely by hand, and I try a few tentative approaches before finally managing to raise it off the plate. This one really looks best tackled with a fork, but I adhere to the review rule and lift it to my mouth for a bite, steeling myself for the inevitable.
And indeed, custard oozes everywhere as I take a first bite into the crisp layers, which squeeze it out in blobby sheets. It’s deliciously creamy and vanilla flavoured, very soft and smooth, with just a hint of more solid texture in places so that you see it’s hand made. The pastry is firm and has a delicate crispness but gives way to the tooth nicely with a snap of the many layers. The individual layers are a bit thicker than filo and maintain a slight biscuity crunch as they mingle with the custard during chewing. The flavour is sweet without being too sweet, and has a good solid amount of vanilla. I struggle through eating the resulting mess, licking up oozy custard bits as I progress. It’s really good, only marked down a point for the overly creaminess rather than a more traditional and slightly firmer custard, and one for the pastry which could have been a touch more delicate and flaky. But good overall!
Sausage roll: 4/10
Vanilla slice: 8/10