Coming up with the Goods

Friday, 7 September 2012

Baked goods, that is.
There's not many places I feel entirely comfortable with declaring my allegiance (more like devotion, but anyway) to but Black Star Pastry in Newtown is one of those. BSB is one other (previous post here). The very definition of old trusty, BSP has hit the nail on the head several times over.
A wide angle lens could work wonders...standing room only: This is a regular occurrence at BSP seeing as there is a total of one table inside and then bums on stools outside. The rest can lump it, basically. A teeny tiny shop, sandwiched next to Oscillate Wildly, a degustation only diner, where molecular gastronomy is high on the cards P.S. such a good restaurant name). Photo: Concrete Playground

Opened in 2009 by pastry chef owner Chris Thé, it has become a Newtown stalwart. A suburb dominated by Thai restaurants (often in multiples of the same I, II etc), grungy food co-ops, cafes GA-LORE and more Thai restaurants...though I could never turn down a $6.50 Thai meal though - never! BSP has built a great reputation in just over 3 years, swiftly becoming a Newtown 
stalwart. The crowds (still) speak for themselves.

Chris to the rescue! All he needs is a fist in the air...Often seen helping in 'front of house' i.e. pavement, Chris has given up his hatted kitchen roots (little place called Claude's, in other words a hatted kitchen in Sydney for the non-initiated) to set up his own joint. Photo Adrian Wiggins

I first discovered these pastry digs several years ago when a friend of mine had my soon-to-be favourite cake. It was a real beauty: their uber famous Strawberry and Watermelon cake with Rose-scented cream. Ah! I died! It is so amazingly light, you could easily down a piece in a heartbeat. Here is a more recent piccie:
If you haven't yet tried this chunk (or is it 'slice'?) of heaven, hop to it - quick smart! True it looks like a heart attack on a plate but you will not believe how incredibly light it is, especially with that rose cream. The layers form a perfect union (how poetic of me). Iphone photo: VD

If you're feeling game, I've posted the recipe for this cake at the tail end of the post (featured in a back issue of Australian GT magazine. Props to those who give it a go! It looks pretty okay but I'm sure the assembly part is a b****. I'm quite content savouring it in-store at the moment, thanks very much!

Since that occasion, I have found myself going back there time and time again. It's a one stop shop for all of your baking needs and cravings. I'm one to grab a coffee, a loaf of sourdough, a sausage roll, a cake for dessert, all of the's like a bloody gold mine. Like Ikea, you never leave empty handed! If I've got a spare moment, I'll happily mooch there with company for hours, systematically picking our way through the pastry cabinet. It really is a bit like that. 

A feast for the eyes! And taste buds hopefully i.e. GO THERE. A wee selection of sweet treats featuring old mate (strawbs and watermelon), orange cake with persian fig and quince (LOVE quince), apple and blueberry tart (not a huge fan of the sugar dusting but i'll deal) and panna cotta. I think the ginger ninja may have looked a bit out of place here, but they're mighty good too ;) Iphone photo: SLY (actual initials!)

In more recent news, I was struck by a new cake that I hadn't seen before. It was a sponge that had some serious height going, perched in a glass dome all on its lonesome. It was their Lemon Myrtle Chiffon Cake (just to change things up a bit: WHAT will she do next?!). It had a bit of a retro feel to it which was cute. Beautifully fluffy, just as a sponge should be (I know you're essentially paying for air here, or maybe a good whisk attachment on a mixmaster?) and with a hint of herbiness slash fragrance from the lemon myrtle powder + toasted coconut dusting. Ignoring the layer of buttercream (though very thin) you could almost pass it off as the 'fat camp' of cake! Like a lemon (myrtle) detox in a way. Yes, I go to great lengths to justify... *smiley face*

At risk of being blinded by pixelation, I have had to keep this picture on the small side. But I mean you get the idea right? Each slice is probably close to 15cm tall - now that is some serious elevation. Photo credit: Black Star Pastry
Drum roll cake fans!

Strawberry and Watermelon Cake
Serves 8

250g seedless watermelon, thinly sliced
60ml (1/4 cup) rosewater
4 tbspn caster sugar
40g almond meal
500g strawberries, halved
10 seedless red grapes
1 tbspn slivered pistachios
1 tbspn dired rose petals

Almond dacquoise (fancy french for cake layer of nut meringue and buttercream)
150g almonds, coarsely chopped
150g icing sugar, sieved
5 egg whites
135g caster sugar

Rose-scented cream
300ml thickened cream
30g caster sugar
2 tbspn rosewater

1. For dacquoise, preheat oven to 200 degrees. Process almonds in a food processor till finely ground. Combine with icing sugar in bowl. Whisk egg whites in electric mixer to form soft peaks (3-4 minutes), the gradually add caster sugar until stiff peaks form (1-2 minutes). Gently fold through almond mixture, spread evenly on tray (~30x40cm)lined with baking paper and bake until golden (10-15 mins). Set aside to cool on tray, then cut in half lengthways
2. Arrange watermelon slices in a single layer on a wire rack. Sprinkle with 20ml rosewater, then scatter with 2 tbspn sugar. Stand to macerate (break up/soften)for 30 mins then pat try with absorbent paper
3. For rose cream, whisk cream and sugar in electric mixer to soft peaks, gradually adding rosewater and whisk until stiff peaks form
4. Spread 1/3 of rose cream evenly over one half of dacquoise, scatter with half of the almond meal, then top with watermelon, trimming to fill any gaps. Scatter over remaining almond meal, spread over half remaining cream. Top with remaining dacquoise, spread over remaining cream and refrigerate until firm (1-2 hrs)
5. Combine strawberries, remaining rosewater and remaining sugar in a bowl, toss to combine and set aside to macerate (15 mins). Carefully arrange on top of cake, gently pushing into cream. Trim edges of cake, scatter over grapes, pistachios and petals. Voila!

I feel quite posh after typing dacquoise all those times haha. And there we are! Do your worst.

Thanks for reading! x


  1. Wow, those are some seriously gorgeous and inventive pastries! I'm so sad I missed this place when I was in Sydney in June!! Well, now I know where I'm going on my next trip to Australia ;)

  2. I still haven't had the chance to stroll down there even though I've heard about their famed watermelon, strawberry cake a while ago... your photos still look sooo tempting, even if they were taken using your iphone ;)

  3. I just came across your blog, then had to click back to your Bourke Street Bakery post, and now I'm almost weeping with missing the place. I love it so, and it is the thing I miss most since leaving Sydney late last year. (Lucky I have the cookbook...) I've never been to Black Star but have heard many good things x

    1. It's awesome isn't it? The BSB cookbook has been out for years, I'm surpised that I don't own it yet! Have you gotten much use out of it?

  4. That cake sounds wild! And awesome.

  5. i love their strawberry and watermelon cake. i must revisit now :-)



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