Sweet Discovery: The Tim Tam Slam

So, I have a friend named Julie.

Julie's pretty great. There are many reasons why, but this week, two in particular stand out: first, the cookies she made the other day: malted corn flake cookies, inspired by Christina Tosi of MilkBar and author of Milk . And she shared these delicious cookies with me.

Two: Today, she introduced me to an activity known as the Tim Tam Slam. 

What's a Tim Tam Slam, you ask? Prepare to be amazed.

To understand the Slam, first, you must know what a Tim Tam is. It's a confection that hails from Australia, manufactured by a company called Arnott's. It is composed of two layers of chocolate malted biscuit, separated by chocolate cream filling, and coated in a thin layer of textured chocolate.

And it's a popular treat. According to Arnott's, around 35 million packs are sold each year. Like, whoa.

How was it invented? Per this article, inventor Ian Norris "first thought of the Tim Tam in 1958 while on a world trip for the company, searching for new ideas. In Britain, he came upon the Penguin, a type of chocolate-coated biscuit sandwich. "I thought that was not a bad idea for a biscuit ... we'll make a better one," he recalled."

Where'd it get that funny name? Per the treat's official website, "Tim Tam biscuits were named after a horse that won the Kentucky Derby! In 1958 Ross Arnott attended the race day and decided ‘Tim Tam’ was the perfect name for his new biscuit."

OK, OK. So now you are acquainted with the Tam. But what about the Slam? As I learned here, it is "a tradition Down Under of dunking and sucking tea through a chocolate biscuit." 

As I further learned on Wikipedia, 

Opposite corners of the Tim Tam are bitten off, one end is submerged in the drink, and the drink sucked through the biscuit. The crisp inside biscuit is softened and the outer chocolate coating begins to melt.

Ideally, the inside of the biscuit should collapse with the outside remaining intact long enough for the liquid to reach the mouth. Refrigerating or similar processes help to preserve the outside coating while allowing the inside of the biscuit to dissolve into a warm, creamy centre. The thicker chocolate coating on the Double Coat Tim Tam offers a more stable structure to prevent a premature collapse. The caramel centre of the Chewy Caramel variety helps to hold the biscuit together for a slightly longer time - contributing to enhanced enjoyment. When the biscuit structure collapses it is typically pushed into the mouth. This activity is often performed for show in front of large groups of people.

I know, I know. The best sporting event ever, right!? I don't know about you, but I am pretty ready to try it out myself. But not just because it sounds delicious...because celebrities do it, too:


For more, visit the Tim Tam website!

Berry Delicious: Cranzac Cookies Recipe a la David Lebovitz

Cookies are just so cute when they pretend to be health food. Case in point: the ANZAC biscuit (ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps, and both places share ownership of the cookie). On the surface, its oaty, nubbly appearance looks rather virtuous--but one bite will tell you the butter, sugar, and golden syrup-filled truth.

David Lebovitz makes them even better in his brilliant (and beautiful) book Ready for Dessert: My Best Recipes by adding cranberries to the mix, which add a pleasing little zing of flavor; I made them better still with the addition of a dollop of buttercream on top. Don't worry, they still have oats, so they're still totally healthy. You're welcome.

CakeSpy Note: I made these for a David Lebovitz-themed meeting of my cookbook club--to check out what other people made, check out Kairu's flickr stream!

Cranzac Cookies


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup golden syrup (or honey)

To top: About 1 cup vanilla buttercream frosting or cream cheese frosting of your choosing


  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, toss together oats, brown sugar, flour, coconut, cranberries, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the water, melted butter, and syrup or honey until the dough is cohesive and moist.
  3. Using your hands, shape the dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheets and lightly flatten them with your hand. They should have about 1 inch of space on all sides to allow for light spreading.
  4. Bake, rotating the tray halfway through baking, until the cookies are golden brown, about 12 minutes.
  5. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets til firm, then use a spatula to transfer them to a wire rack.
  6. Once cool, top each with a dollop of frosting, and if you'd like, a cranberry piece on top for added cuteness.

Cake Byte: Australian Cake Baking Competition in Seattle

Delicious Lamingtons and more!If you're an Aussiephile (what do they call people who are really into Australia?) and live in Seattle, this one is for you.

Australia Day is coming up, and there will be a big celebration at Seattle Center. But the best part? There will be an Australian Cake Baking Competition. Yes, you heard me correctly. Here are the deets:

Australian Cake-Making Competition

The cake can be made at home and brought in on the day of Seattle's Australia Day Celebration – any time before 2pm on January 22, 2011.

Each cake goes to a table of 6 judges where it is evaluated on presentation (25%) texture (25%) and taste (50%)

The application form is attached. As it is tied into the BBQ competition ignore all that aspect and just tick the cake box and send to the PNWBA or you can pay on-line at www.pnwba.com

You do not need to enter the meats or be a member of the PNWBA.

Australian Cake

What is an Australian Cake? It can be something typically associated with Australia such as a pavlova or lamington. Or a cake associated to an Australian ingredient such as Queensland pineapple or Darwin mangos. Or an international cake of any type such as chocolate cake or cheese cake that is decorated in an Australian fashion with things such as the Australian flag, kangaroos or Koalas.

Entry fee of $10 – Anyone can enter

First Prize $100!

Make at home and bring in on the day.

Still need some ideas?

 Find out more about the Australia Day Festival in Seattle on the official website.

Australian Sweetness: A Pavlova Recipe from Cake Gumshoe Emma

CakeSpy Note: One of my favorite things in the world is discovering the favorite desserts of readers from around the world. Here's a profile on one sweet treat, the wonderful Pavlova (a dessert named after someone famous!), from Australia-based Emma! You can read more about her adventures on her blog, Emma's Eatery. Here's her favorite Pavlova recipe:

Pavlova is one of my ultimate favourite deserts to make. It is so easy, but quite “wow” type dish, the meringue is a real crowd pleaser. Pavlova is a meringue cake – light, fluffy with a chewy interior.  I usually make this at Christmas as a desert when all my high-school girlfriends come over for dinner, and they absolutely adore it! (The red and green fruit with the white cream really add to the Christmas effect!) I don’t think I would be allowed to switch up the dessert anymore because it has become such a staple at our high-school Christmas dinner reunion!

The only thing with meringues is that they are somewhat temperamental - so don't try to make them on a rainy day because you won’t end up with the stiff peaks you need.

For all you looking to bake something fun, quick and easy – this is the dish for you!



- 4 egg whites
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 tsp white vinegar
- 1 tbsp cornstarch or cream of tartar
- 1 pack of raspberries
- 4 kiwis
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1 tbsp vanilla
- 1 half pint whipping cream (250ml)


- Preheat oven to 250 degrees F 
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper 
- Separate egg yolks and egg whites (it is easier to do this when the eggs are cold) 
- In the bowl of your electric mixer (Kitchen Aid Mixers work very well) beat the egg whites on medium - high speed until they hold soft peaks
- Slowly add in the sugar, a tablespoon at a time and continue to beat until the meringue hold stiff peaks and is somewhat glossy looking
- Make sure the meringue is smooth not gritty (if it feel gritty the sugar is not dissolved, so keep beating until the meringue feels smooth)
- With a spatula fold in vinegar and cornstarch until combined
- On your parchment paper draw a large circle, and fill in with meringue (make sure the edges of the meringue are higher than the center)
- Bake for 1 hr or until golden brown

To assemble: 

- Whip the whipping cream and add in vanilla and 2tbsp sugar for flavor
- Place whipping cream a top the meringue (do this right before you are ready to serve, otherwise the meringue will be soggy) 
- Sprinkle raspberries and kiwi over the top (you can really use any fruit you like)
- Serve immediately 

Want some more Australian sweetness? You might like this bakery tour of Sydney with Cake Gumshoe Dianne!

Slice of Heaven: A Tip for Delicious Vanilla Slice in Melbourne, Australia

Vanilla slice photo c/o Flickr user StickyPix, used with Creative Commons Permission

What is David Jones?

No, it's not a former Monkee trying to be all mature.

It's a shop in Australia, per Wikipedia, "colloquially known as DJs, is an Australian retailer. Its primary business is an Australia-wide chain of premium department stores."

And as I learned from some uber-cute Australian customers who happened into my burgeoning gallery (at 415 E. Pine Street, Capitol Hill, Seattle, since you asked) the other day, their Foodhall is also the source for some of Melbourne's best Vanilla Slice.

Vanilla slice, for those of you who may not familiar, is not dissimilar to our stateside Napoleon or the French "Mille Feuille"--per Wikipedia, it is "filled with vanilla custard. It usually has only a top and bottom pastry layer. The sweet is often dusted with icing sugar, or topped with a plain or passionfruit flavoured icing."

Of course, for those of you who (like me) aren't free to run over to David Jones at the earliest convenience, there is a pretty good-looking recipe on Nigella Lawson's website.

Vive la Vanilla Slice!

For more information on David Jones, visit their site; for more information on the various incarnations of the Vanilla Slice, Mille Feuille, and Napoleon, visit Wikipedia!

Out Like a Lamington: A Sweet Recipe from Joy of Baking

You know what they say about March: in like a Lion, out like a Lamington. At least, that's what I say. OK, technically I've never said that before today.

Nonetheless, I couldn't imagine a sweeter way to say "smell ya later" to March than with these traditional Australian treats, named after Lord Lamington (Governor of Queensland from 1896 - 1901) comprised of dense cake absolutely coated in rich fudge coating and feathered with sweet coconut on top of everything.

My suggestion? Make some today. No fooling, it's a sweet way to end one month and go into another--and nobody would call an April that began with a leftover Lamington breakfast "the cruelest month".

This recipe is lightly adapted from the one on Joy of Baking.


For the cakes

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk (I used cream) 

For the chocolate Frosting:

  • 4 cups (1 pound) confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cream or milk

For the coating: 

  • 2 cups shredded coconut



  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place oven rack to middle position. Grease an 8x8-inch baking pan and set to the side.
  2. In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set to the side.
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until soft. Add sugar and beat until light and fluffy--2 or 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally. Add the vanilla and beat until combined.
  4. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and milk in alternating increments, beginning and ending with flour.
  5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula. Bake in your preheated oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Place a wire rack on top of cake and invert, lifting off pan. Once the cake is cool, cut it into 16 2-inch squares. Wrap the cake (as one unit is fine) in plastic wrap and refrigerate for several hours or even overnight--this makes it much easier to coat with chocolate later on.
  7. Make the chocolate frosting. Place the confectioners' sugar, cocoa powder, butter and milk in a double boiler. Heat on low, stirring the mixture until it becomes smooth and of pouring consistency.
  8. Assemble your Lamingtons. Make a production line; put the 16 squares of cakes on a wire rack that is placed over a baking sheet (to catch the dripping chocolate).  Have the coconut ready on a large plate and the chocolate frosting. Ladle the chocolate frosting over each square of cake, making sure you cover all sides. (It is best to do a few squares at a time.)  With a small offset spatula or knife transfer the chocolate covered cake to the plate of coconut and roll the cake in the coconut, covering all sides.  Gently transfer the lamington to a clean wire rack to set.  Repeat with the rest of the cake squares.  Once the Lamingtons have set, store in an airtight container for several days.


Note: Also, Joy of Baking has a helpful tip: When you ladle the frosting over the cake, some of the frosting will drip onto the pan. Pour this frosting back in your bowl and reuse (strain if necessary).  If the icing becomes too thick to pour, simply place the frosting back over the saucepan of simmering water and reheat until it is of pouring consistency. (You may have to do this a few times as the frosting has a tendency to thicken over time.  Add a little more milk to frosting if necessary to get pouring consistency.)


Sweetness Down Under: Get to Know Some Aussie Treats for Australia Day

Happy Australia Day! Or, to those not down under...ah, happy Tuesday?

Geography aside, why don't we all celebrate by getting to know a few popular Australian treats? Here's a triple threat of Aussie treats which all happen to be named after people. And they couldn't be easier to remember: just think of them by their anagram, P.A.L, and know that when or where you may find yourself in Australia, with these three treats you'll always have a friend.

Pavlova: This lovely and light fruit and meringue dessert is named after the famous Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova (1881–1931), famous Russian ballerina; both Australia and New Zealand have claimed to be the places of invention, though it looks good for Australia in my opinion, as it is their national cake and all. One thing is for sure though: the ballerina only shared a "light as air" similarity with the dessert; I've heard it is unlikely she ever partook. Here's a recipe.


Anzac Biscuits: OK, so they're not necessarily named after one person, but an army of persons. ANZAC is an acronym for Australia New Zealand Army Corps; according to this site, the crunchy ANZAC biscuit was made by women on the home front and sent across the sea to their soldiers. Originally named "Soliders’ Biscuits" and containing just flour, sugar, milk powder and water, these simple biscuits were made to endure the journey at sea. Now the biscuits are more of a treat with the addition of butter, golden syrup and desiccated coconut. CakeSpy friend Marianne (owner of Let them Eat Cupcakes) shared this recipe.


Lamingtons: Per Joy of Baking, Lamingtons are very popular in Australia and consist of a small square of white cake (sponge, butter, or pound) that is dipped in a sweet chocolate icing and then rolled in desiccated coconut. I suspect Lord Lamington (Governor of Queensland from 1896 - 190l), their namesake, might be surprised at how popular these cakes have become. As for a recipe--joy upon joy, Australian CakeSpy reader Erin has contributed her favourite (we're spelling Australian style today) recipe

Note: Want more? Here are some links to a few other Australian desserts which may interest you:

Darwin Dessert

Mango Mousse

Vanilla Slice

Wattleseed Creme Caramel

...and of course, if you want some serious deliciousness, look back at Cake Gumshoe Diane's Cakewalk in Sydney!

Sweetness Down Under: Lamingtons Recipe

CakeSpy Note: This recipe was contributed by Cake Gumshoe Erin, who says "I always make it near Australia Day. It is a great treat and very yummy!" 


Ingredients for cakes


  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup caster sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 eggs 1 1/4 cups plain flour
  • 1 1/4 tea spoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup shredded/desicated coconut (for the topping)


Ingredients for Iceing


  • 3/4 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup boliling water
  • 20 g melted unsalted butter




  1. Preheat oven to 160c.
  2. To make icing place all icing ingreadients in a bowl and whisk to combine set aside ( I do this when the slice is in the oven).
  3. Place butter,sugar and vanilla in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy (use the beaters for this) gradully add the eggs and beat well.
  4. Sift the flour and baking powder togeather over butter mixture and mix until well combined. Stir in the milk.
  5. pour into a 20cm X 30cm tin lined with grease proof paper and bake for 20 minutes or untill cooked.
  6. while still warm cut into in squares and poor over the icing (you MUST do this!) sprinkle with the coconut and you have your lammington slice!


Sweetness Down Under: ANZAC Biscuits Recipe

ANZAC Biscuits

From CakeSpy Friend Let Them Eat Cupcakes


  • 4oz flour
  • 6oz sugar
  • 1 cup coconut
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 oz butter
  • 1 tablespoon golden syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon bicarb soda
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water


  1. Mix together flour, sugar, coconut, & rolled oats.
  2. Melt butter and golden syrup. Dissolve bicarb in boiling water and add to the butter and golden syrup.
  3. Make a well in the centre of flour, stir in the liquid. Place in spoonfuls on cold greased trays.
  4. Bake 15 to 20 minutes at 350F (180C) I would normally make them a bit flatter than those in this picture. That would make them crunchier.


Cakewalk: A Sweet Tour of Sydney, Australia from Cake Gumshoe Dianne

Cakewalk in Sydney!
CakeSpy Note: This is a special guest entry by Cake Gumshoe Dianne, who chronicles her culinary adventures at A Stove With A House Around It. She chronicled her sweet finds during a recent trip to Sydney, Australia ( with thanks for the help of her dear friends and Sydneysiders Kerrie, Greg, Nicole and Matthew Nott for their valuable assistance in researching the piece). Ready for some down-under decadence? Here goes:

I am not Australian. I don’t have an accent, I can’t follow cricket, I won’t stomach Vegemite. Even so, I love that continent like it’s home, and I’m always looking for flimsy and dubious excuses to travel down under yet again. This year, Qantas was having a sale--plus. I knew there were some significantly delicious cake shops and chocolatiers I had to visit. That, my friends, is reason enough to travel anywhere, no matter how long the plane ride.

What follows is a glimpse into a vibrant and varied dessert culture. It seems like every 20 minutes good Australian citizens are stopping their daily routines to have a coffee and a sweet--it is part of their daily routines, at least within my circle of Aussie friends. Here are a few of my favorite Sydney-area bakeries and chocolate makers. Of course, this list is anything but exhaustive, but if you’re planning a trip to Sydney, you would do well to take a break from the gorgeous glittering Harbour to stop (several times per day) for a bite of something sweet.
Adriano Zumbo in Sydney, c/o Cake Gumshoe Dianne
Adriano Zumbo
Tucked in a slender and unassuming shop in Balmain’s Darling Street, patissier Adriano Zumbo displays his exquisite and creative pastries in a glass case against the simple backdrop of an attractive exposed-brick wall. It’s kind of like hanging original artwork in a modest, utilitarian space; here, pastries are art. And each work has its own quirky name. We enjoyed “Amanda made the cut 6/11/81,” a perfect white square of milk passion caramel mousse, lime crème, passionfruit marshmallow, coconut crunch and brownie, as well as the more descriptively named “Pine nut millefeuille,” a generous layered combination of pine nut gianduja mousse, dark chocolate crème, pate feulletage and sacher sponge. If my stomach was three sizes larger I definitely would have given “Squeeze” a shot, not only for its artful amalgamation of sticky date pudding, cardamom and 80% chocolate chips but also for its nod – real or imagined – to my husband’s favorite Brit-pop combo. Or the “Return of the killer tomato,” which is an intriguing tomato, chocolate and olive oil upside-down cake.
Adriano Zumbo in Sydney, c/o Cake Gumshoe Dianne
Get your pastry-art to go, because just a few steps down the street is Adriano Zumbo’s café. The staff will plate up your patisserie purchase so that you can enjoy it with coffee or tea while you listen to excellent ambient tunes like John Lennon’s “Crippled Inside,” which I was happy to hear as I destroyed my pine nut millefeuille. There’s a fabulous red chandelier, a range of quality reading material and a pleasant outdoor space where you can linger over your “Lukas rides the tube” (macadamia praline mousse, macadamia dacquoise, vanilla Chantilly, pear tartin palette, macadamia feullitine). Trust me; you don’t want to rush through something like that.
Adriano Zumbo in Sydney, c/o Cake Gumshoe Dianne
Note: Adriano changes his pastry collection often, so these particular selections might not be available when you visit. But something equally astounding will be.

296 Darling Street, Balmain - Phone: 02 9810 7318; online at adrianzumbo.com.


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Photo c/o Cake Gumshoe Dianne, La Renaissance in Sydney, Australia
La Renaissance Patisserie & Café
Behind a weathered door marked number 47 in Sydney’s historic Rocks area is La Renaissance, a first-class French patisserie whose “art cakes” are named, naturally, after French painters. And whose rainbow-hued macarons are beguiling enough to make you abandon your sightseeing and languish on the La Renaissance premises until you’ve sampled at least one of each flavor. We visited on a Sunday morning when the adjacent Rocks Market was in full swing, and La Renaissance’s shaded outdoor café was inviting on its own as a tantalizing retreat from the crowd and the vendors selling everything from wooden kangaroos to knee-length striped terry-cloth shorts. Throw in La Renaissance’s gorgeous pastries and…your sightseeing plans can disappear more quickly than a piece of gateau St. Honore. What was that I heard about a famous opera house?

Truthfully, we did have tickets to a performance at the Opera House later that afternoon, so I indulged in a piece of La Renaissance’s coffee and chocolate opera cake. It seemed appropriate. I also couldn’t pass up the macarons, falling victim to a lovely little green number that was flavored with olive oil and vanilla with white chocolate ganache. I also had a dark chocolate one, because you can’t have just one macaron. I believe that is an old French aphorism, no? The menu says they offer salted caramel macarons, but I didn’t see any in the case that day. A reason to return. My friends ate tiramisu and apple flan while they drank cappuccinos and tried to banish the specter of the wine consumed the night before. Coffee and pastries, especially pastries like these, are especially good for that.


47 Argyle Street, The Rocks, Sydney - Phone: 02 9241 4878; online at larenaissance.com.au.

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Photo c/o Cake Gumshoe Dianne, Babycakes in Sydney
Baby Cakes by Renee
This is the shop to visit if you want a tiny sweet bite of something while you hoof around Sydney, perhaps on your way to nearby Darling Harbour. On a hilly block of Erskine Street, the shop’s cases are filled with wee cupcakes, small enough that you can try several (many) different flavors without feeling guilty. When we walked in, the very friendly woman behind the counter chatted with us about our holiday as she restocked the baked goods. “We had a rush.” I can see why.
Photo c/o Cake Gumshoe Dianne, Babycakes in Sydney
Even though we had visited at least two bakeries earlier that same day and had just come from a luxurious gourmet Thai lunch, we nevertheless dove straight into three flavors of baby cakes: hazelnut mud, caramel mud and strawberry mud, the latter of which was topped with precious pink frosting and the most adorable and crunchy yellow candy topper. We also bought a chocolate lamington, the iconic Aussie dessert cake rolled in chocolate syrup and coconut. My camera did a whole lot of flirting with the cake-sized cakes, baked in large cupcake-like wrappers and covered sweetly with pretty shades of white and pink icing. In retrospect, I wish I had tried the carrot cake baby cake, as well as the lemon poppyseed. Certainly I could have walked them off on our journey around the shops at Darling Harbour. You live, you learn.

66 Erskine Street, Sydney - Phone: 02 9279 2794; online at babycakes.com.au.

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Abla's in Sydney, C/O Cake Gumshoe Dianne
Abla’s Pastries
Get yourself to the Central train station. Then get yourself on a train traveling west, one that stops at Granville (just a handful of stops). Then get off the train and make your way out of the station to the corner of Railway Parade and Carlton Street to Abla’s Pastries. It looks kind of like a bank, all stone and drab façade. Go in anyway. You will not be sorry.
I have never seen as many baked goods in one place at one time as I did at Abla’s. This Lebanese bakery clearly does great business, judging by the miles of display cases piled high (and I mean high) with baklava and any combination of phyllo, honey, rosewater and nuts. Then there are the overflowing trays of cookies behind the display cases, you know, in case they run out. Then there are the packaged sweets on the windowsills behind the cookies behind the display cases. Then there are the glass shelving units filled with individually wrapped pistachio and nougat treats. And the case of European-style cakes and tarts. And the handmade chocolates. And the wrapped trays of candies and party favors. There is only one word for it: astonishing.

The best news in all of this: Everything we tried was as good as it looked. We shared a pistachio bourma, pine nut baklava, a mamoul biscuit made from semolina and dates, a confection called a karabij that is a nut base topped with a type of meringue. We put together a tray of various treats to take home with us and enjoy later with visiting family from Melbourne. We also ate a fried turnover filled with a sweet cheese or pastry cream, but sadly we were unable to determine exactly which pastry it was. Truly, who could possibly care? When you are sitting next to a tray as big around as an SUV tire stacked higher than your head with baklava, it’s hard not to enjoy whatever’s on your plate.


48-52 Railway Parade, Granville - Phone: 02 9637 8092

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Photo c/o Cake Gumshoe Dianne, Cupcakes on Pitt in Sydney, Australia
Cupcakes on Pitt
I make no attempt to disguise my love for the Cadbury Crunchie, a candy bar comprised of airy sweet honeycomb covered in Cadbury’s delectable milk chocolate. I therefore make no attempt to say I sought out Cupcakes on Pitt for any other reason than the fact that they serve a honeycomb cupcake: chocolate cake with honey icing and a chunk of Crunchie perched on top. Perfection! I learned when we got to the tiny shop just a short walk from the Queen Victoria Building that Crunchies aren’t the only treats making their way onto Cupcakes on Pitt’s baked goods: you’ll find pieces of Cherry Ripe (another Cadbury candy bar), crumbled butter cookies, dried apricots and rocky road ingredients scattered over the cupcakes’ colorful frosting. It’s a lot of flavor and texture to fit into a small cake, but it works. It works well.
Photo c/o Cake Gumshoe Dianne, Cupcakes on Pitt in Sydney, Australia
Of course I had the honeycomb. I also happily consumed a lamington cupcake – with chocolate, jam and coconut – and an amazingly flavorful lemon meringue cupcake, just bursting with citrus and kissed on top by a perfectly browned dollop of meringue. I also tried one of their vanilla macarons, which was large and shattered pleasingly when I took a bite. Even the light rain that started to fall as we tucked into our sweets at one of the sidewalk tables couldn’t dampen our mood. For we were in Sydney, Australia, eating cupcakes. I’ll take that scenario any day of the week.

Shop 2, 323-327 Pitt Street, Sydney - Phone: 02 9264 4644; online at cupcakesonpitt.com.au.

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Josophan's Fine Chocolates c/o Cake Gumshoe Dianne
Josophan’s Fine Chocolates
Yes, I realize that neither Josophan’s Fine Chocolates nor Café Josophan’s is a proper full-scale bakery. But if you find yourself in the Blue Mountains about an hour west of Sydney (and lots of travelers do), stop off the Great Western Highway in the lovely town of Leura and visit Josophan’s. The award-winning chocolates are made by hand in the Blue Mountains and I probably don’t have to mention that they’re as pleasing to the eye as they are to the palate. In sophisticated combinations like Mayan chili and saffron honey and lime and basil, the chocolates are like jewels beckoning from behind the glass in the tasteful and elegant shop.
Cafe Josophan's
But the real treat is down the street at Café Josophan’s. The desserts are divine: Mexican chocolate cake, crumbly and sweet shortbread biscuits, scones, waffles with Belgian chocolate. We ordered the fresh strawberries and were served a heaping pile of plump, sweet fruit with a pitcher of delicious melted chocolate and fresh whipped cream. We arrived just in time, because around 3:30 the friendly café employees feed scones to the five or six assembled sulphur-crested cockatoos who clearly know where to come for baked goods. The birds were hysterical, peering in plaintively through the windows, stubbornly throwing a plastic “reserved” sign from a tabletop down to the sidewalk, holding their scones in their claws and nibbling away gratefully. The handcrafted chocolates and café desserts are certainly impressive and delightful, but I won’t lie to you: the cockatoos made my afternoon.
In Sydney, even the birds appreciate baked goods
132 Leura Mall, Leura - Phone: 02 4784 2031

Café Josophan’s, 187a Leura Mall, Leura - Phone: 02 4784 3833; online at josophans.com.au.

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C/O Cake Gumshoe Dianne, Pasticceria Papa, Sydney, Australia
Pasticceria Papa
So we did the elegant pastries (Adriano Zumbo). We did the Lebanese pastries (Abla’s). We ate more than our share of tiny cupcakes (Babycakes and Cupcakes on Pitt). We shared scones with birds (Café Josophan’s). What was clearly missing from this dessert tour was a stop at an Italian bakery. Haberfield is located close to Sydney’s Leichhardt neighborhood, the city’s Little Italy. Where Leichhardt is replete with restaurants, Haberfield is home to the Italian bakers and pasta makers and cheese shops. If you start with an empty stomach at one end of the block, I guarantee you it will be full by the time you reach the other. Especially if you stop in Pasticceria Papa, a large dessert and bread bakery that also serves lunch.
C/O Cake Gumshoe Dianne, Pasticceria Papa, Sydney, Australia
The woodwork on the face of the long bakery counter is marred and scuffed – even split here and there – from the feet of the many customers who have bellied up to the case over the years to have a look at the array of Italian cookies, beautifully executed cakes and crusty breads. We were eight of those feet. For lunch we had arancini filled with chicken, tomatoes and cheese, and then shared an overflowing plate of cookies: lemon-almond, amaretti, almond and cherry, perfect strawberry swirl. I think the strawberry might have been my favorite, but it’s hard to tell for sure. We also indulged in a cannoli and eyed the passionfruit cake. This busy corner shop (there was a constant line) also serves ice cream. So come hungry. You won’t have to eat for the next two days.

145 Ramsay Street, Haberfield - Phone: 02 9798 6894

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Photo C/O Cake Gumshoe Dianne, Colonial Bakery in Sydney, Australia
The Colonial Bakery
At the north end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, right near the train station and close to the steps that lead up to the bridge’s pedestrian path, is The Colonial Bakery. Its green and gold sign advertises CAKES & PIES and tray after tray of slices and ANZAC biscuits in the window inspire even the most casual passerby to stop and gaze. If you want something homespun, a dessert that’s traditionally Australian, step inside. If you’re about to walk across the bridge, or if you’ve just finished walking across the bridge, step inside. You’re going to want a snack and The Colonial Bakery has something to suit you.
Photo C/O Cake Gumshoe Dianne, Colonial Bakery in Sydney, Australia
This is not an elegant bakery; this is not impossibly clever pastry on display. These are desserts that your grandmother would have made, if your grandmother grew up in Australia. It was hard to choose among the many varieties of slice, essentially bar cookies cut into very large squares. There was peppermint, chocolate-cherry, chocolate-macadamia, citrus, lemon-pistachio and many more. We eventually settled on a jam-coconut slice and a ginger-pistachio slice. Both were very sweet and very homemade, and the jam-coconut prevailed only because we’re such gigantic coconutphiles. (Though I must say that the bird that was harassing us as we snacked next to the Harbour clearly preferred the ginger-pistachio.) The Colonial Bakery’s speckled passionfruit tarts looked fabulous to me, but I had exceeded my dessert threshold on that particular day. When I return I’ll also try the neenish tart, an Australian creation of pastry, jam and cream covered in two colors of icing. It looks a lot like a Southern Hemisphere black and white cookie. You can also, of course, get yourself a meat pie or a sausage roll at The Colonial Bakery if you’re not in the mood for a sweet.
Photo C/O Cake Gumshoe Dianne, Colonial Bakery in Sydney, Australia
The friendly but shy woman behind the counter was embarrassed to appear in my photos. In between serving the locals who were stopping in for bread rolls and pies, she kept slinking out of the frame. She told me she would just ruin the picture. When I asked for a business card, she handed me the bakery’s phone number and advised me that I could call if I ever wanted to order in advance. I wonder, does she ship to Ohio?

4 Ennis Road, Milsons Point - Phone: 02 9955 3958.

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Want more? Check out all of Dianne's Australian baked good photos here!


Batter Chatter: Interview with Naomi Henderson, budding Australian Cupcake Artist

Cake tastes good--nobody's denying that. But is that to say that it doesn't matter what a cake, cupcake or baked good looks like? Most certainly not. We tend to believe that a lovely presentation really does improve your overall taste experience; this is why we were drawn to the work of Naomi Henderson, an Australian university student whose cake decorating skills go far beyond her young years, and whose aesthetic and sense of whimsy instantly had us instantly enchanted. After drooling over her Flickr page for several weeks, we finally connected with this budding pro; here's what we learned about her mad skills in the kitchen, how she even finds time to bake with four jobs, and what the dessert scene is like in Australia:

Cakespy: You live in Newcastle, Australia. What types of baked goods are popular in bakeries there?
Naomi Henderson: The biggest difference between Australian bakeries and everywhere else is pies. All bakeries in Australia sell hot savoury pies as well as sweet pies and cakes and it makes them very popular at lunch. Vanilla slice, lamingtons, custard tarts, apple pies and muffins are the main types of cakes that they sell here. Most bakeries sell cupcakes but they are
just usually packet mix and dipped fondant icing.

CS: You've been to the US (as I see from your Flickr photos)...how did you find the bakery culture different here?
NH: My cupcake obsession started to snowball after I got back from the US (thinking about it now it's probably what started it) and so I didn't really know how big cupcakes were until I got back. Had I known there were so many everywhere I would have planned my whole trip around visiting cupcake stores! Anyway--so I only went to a couple of cupcake stores in New York that I found by accident and unfortunately they were not that great! The cake and the icing were super oily. As for normal bakeries--I didn't really see many around but in Australia they are everywhere.

CS: In the USA, we have quite a few cupcake-only bakeries. Is that the case in your area?
NH: Newcastle is two hours north of Sydney. In Newcastle there are none! But in Sydney there are a few and the number of cupcake stores around the country is growing. Newcastle tends to follow Sydney trends so hopefully they take off here too.

CS: Do you sell your cakes and cookies commercially? If not, what do you do as a day job?
NH: No, not yet anyway! I currently have 4 jobs! I am studying a Research Masters in Computer Engineering where I program robot dogs to play soccer (I have a scholarship so its like a full time job). Also, I am a manager at a drive-thru pie shop / bakery, university tutor and research assistant! I would love to have my own cupcake business and I do plan to start one in the very near future!

CS: What is your favorite type of dessert?
NH: Pavlova! Yum--do Americans know about pavlova??? If not, oh no! It's like a cake made out of meringue and topped with whipped cream (unsugared), passionfruit, strawberries and any other fruit you want to put on it. Mmm...and it's so easy to make! Here's a recipe that's close to what I make (but use a squeeze of lemon juice instead of vinegar and you have to put strawberries on it too): www.abc.net.au/tv/cookandchef/txt/s1590154.htm

CS: What sort of frosting is it on your cupcakes? Fondant? So many of them have such a unique texture.
NH: I use ready to roll fondant. I'm not sure why mine turns out different though! I knead it really well when I'm putting in colour and then try to smooth it as much as possible after I put it on the cupcake.
CS: Do you have any specific bakers, or cookbooks, that inspire you in particular?
NH: I have a bunch of baking, cupcake, cookie and sweet books but my favourite book is Romantic Cakes by Peggy Porschen. I love the colours she uses and her piping!

CS: Are you formally trained in cake decorating?
NH: I've only done a beginner's class where we made flowers, covered a cake and eventually decorated an entire cake, but it's given me enough skills to be able to create most things I want to make.

CS: Do your cakes and cupcakes taste as good as they look?
NH: YES! Even better maybe! They are very fluffy and yum but the problem is that one isn't enough!

CS: What is the next cake project you'd like to take on?
NH: Umm...there are too many! Christmas is coming up so I'm starting to think about that; I'm also trying to design Alice in Wonderland themed cupcakes, and I would like to get more cookie practice so I'm thinking of ice cream, cherry, strawberry, tea pot, tea cup and Pac-man cookies!

Cakespy Note: For some truly delicious cake, cupcake and cookie photos, visit Naomi's Flickr page at this address: www.flickr.com/photos/hello_naomi.