219C Kissing Point Road, South Turramurra, New South Wales
It’s a warm late winter Sunday – the perfect opportunity to take Mrs and Canine Snot Block & Roll for a drive! Of course, I had to do some research to make sure there was a nice bakery awaiting at our destination. And for this trip I chose something that has been tantalising me for some time now. Whenever I do a Google search of Sydney for bakeries, popping up like a gleaming apparition with an astonishing 4.9 star average rating, is Golden Bakehouse at South Turramurra.
It’s a strange thing. Despite the amazing Google rating, photos of the bakery look distinctly bland and average. This looks like your run-of-the-mill suburban bakery, dishing out good hot bread and banh mi rolls, but distinctly average patisserie goods. Something seems rotten in the State of Denmark here…
Not only is the shopfront uninspiring, but the website of this place looks like it was thrown together in an afternoon by the teenage child of one of the owners. Anyway, all of this was enough to prompt an investigation.
On arrival, yes, it looks exactly like what you’d expect from an average suburban bakery. There are no fancy gateaux or anything cake-like beyond a few cupcakes. There are finger buns, cookies, jam tarts, and stuff like that – what you’d expect from a bakery in Sydney in the 1970s.
There’s a range of hot pies and some sausage rolls. The pies are the standard selection of beef with various extras like potato or mushroom, and the fanciest thing is a chicken pie. Since it’s lunch time, I get a sausage roll and a pepper steak pie.
And there are vanilla slices and custard tarts, and on the right of the vanilla slices here is what was labelled as “cheese slice”, which I presume means cheesecake. The vanilla slices look a little dubious, but I’m here and I have to try one.
We head outside to a handy seat and I examine the sausage roll. It is small and skinny, and I’m glad I also got a pie otherwise I’d be left feeling hungry after this for lunch. The pastry is on the pale side, perhaps cooked in a slower oven than usual, but it looks decently flaky. The bits of filling showing through the ends of the pastry are also light in colour, lacking a decent caramelisation. The brown paper bag shows some grease spots, indicating the butter/oil content in the pastry.
The first thing I notice about the flavour is the salty, savoury nature of the meat filling. It has salty and umami notes without much in the way of herbaceous complexity. There are some large chunks of onion providing seasoning. The meat is acceptably moist and has a good texture – none of the mealiness associated with using breadcrumbs to bulk it out. It’s perfectly acceptable, almost good, just let down a little by the simplistic flavour profile. The pastry is crisp and flakes nicely, with neither dry areas nor soggy bits. There’s really nothing to fault in the pastry. Overall, it’s pretty good – definitely above average, although not rising to any great heights of sophistication.
After finishing the pie (also definitely above average, but not great), I move onto the vanilla slice. Looks are not too promising. It’s a kind of uniform pale yellow across all of the structural components: pastry, custard, and icing. It’s two simple and very thin layers of pastry sandwiching a slab of custard, topped by a thick wad of yellow icing. The icing is uneven and very obviously a lot thicker in places. The pastry has a disappointing underbaked look to it that promises sogginess.
On taking a bite, it’s surprising in the intensity of flavour. The pastry is indeed a limp failure, with al dente lack of crispness. But the custard has a nice creamy texture and is very solidly vanilla flavoured. The icing is sweet, but not too sweet that it overpowers, and it also carries some of the vanilla flavour. In terms of taste, this is actually pretty good! I enjoy eating it, but if only the pastry were crisp and flaky, it could have been a solid score of 7 – alas it can’t reach that high as it is presented.
Sausage roll: 7/10
Vanilla slice: 6/10