Anybody who does shift work would know the meaning of Clayton’s day. For the uninitiated it’s the day between working a day shift and a night shift. On this day, one struggles to get at least a couple of hours sleep to prepare for the long night ahead. One important factor is what you put in your belly before trying for the elusive afternoon nap. Eat too much and it’s too uncomfortable to sleep. Eat too little and you are kept awake with a rumbling stomach! This week I found the answer. Before your next night shift, head down Spencer Street and enter the delicious world of The Passionate Baker.
I had heard of The Passionate Baker,#thepassionatebaker (great name by the way). I was under the assumption is was just a place where you could order a birthday or other celebration cake. I had enjoyed one of their wonderful treats the previous weekend. It was my 50th and was treated to a huge chocolate birthday cake.#birthdaycake I was quite surprised when my wife said she was taking our boys there after a visit to the dentist for coffee and cake. “Why not come with us before you go to bed” she suggested. Mmm coffee,#coffee and cake…oh go on then!
First things first, I was a bit worried about where to park. They have that covered with their own parking area. Spencer Street is a busy road so it’s good to know that you don’t have to worry where you are going to leave your car. We walked into the café. The smell was enticing! A mixture of fresh bread, breakfast and the sweet aroma of cakes, pastries and forbidden delights. The counter was adorned with delicious looking temptations, including some interesting looking Portuguese custard tarts. “They’ve just come out of the oven” said the smiling lady who served us. I looked up and noticed my two boys looking into some large glass doored refrigerators at the other end of the shop.
Lots of pointing and discussion was going on. I walked down to see what all the fuss was about. Cakes, cakes and more cakes, every size shape and flavour. The shelves were adorned with every treat that one could imagine. I was in trouble and I knew it. How on Earth was I going to decide what to have. I needed to buy myself some time to decide. “I’ll go and order the coffees” I suggested.
With the coffees ordered, I made my way back to the fridges. Everyone else had decided on their naughtiness. Lisa opted for a carrot cake muffin, the boys ordered a caramel slice and chocolate mint slice. My mind was going a hundred miles an hour, what to have, what to have, what to have?? It was a toss up between a hazelnut éclair and a cherry pie. The cherry pie won. #cherrypie
We settled down at a table. I noticed there was a menu and casually picked it up to see what was on offer. Again, to my surprise, I realised that they also offer breakfasts and lunch items, everything from muffins to Eggs and Bacon. Today was not about breakfast, today was about indulgence!
The coffees were bought up. My usual long black was served with the obligatory small jug of milk. Strong, velvety and hot, just how I like it. Lisa’s carrot cake muffin was huge. It was topped with a luxurious cream icing. Lisa nodded her approval after the first bite. The mint slice looked lovely. There is something quite attractive about this cake. The contrast between the dark chocolate and the vivid green of the mint cream makes is pleasing to the eye. Was it as pleasing to the palate though. A huge thumbs up as he was scoffing it down suggested yes.
I did get to try the caramel slice. This is not something I usually enjoy as I find them a bit sweet, so when my youngest said he couldn’t eat it all, I decided to help him out because I hate seeing food go to waste, (this is my excuse, and I am sticking to it!). I was pleasantly surprised. The bitterness of the dark chocolate was in perfect balance with the gooey caramel. I did not find it over sweet at all, and would go as far as to say that I would happily order this for myself on my next visit.
The star attraction for me was the Cherry Pie. When I first saw it, it reminded me of a Melton Mowbray,#meltonmowbray pork pie. The pastry was short and crumbly, and not over sweet. It was beautifully glazed and had a delicate dusting of icing sugar on top. I took the first bite. It simply melted in the mouth.
Whoever made this knows a thing or two about good pastry. The filling was exquisite. Whole cherries encapsulated in an almost jelly like sauce. This wasn’t about sweet and sharp. Both elements of this pie were subtle and complimented each other to perfection. If it wasn’t Claytons day, I would have had two!
I must say a few words about the service. Both the lovely ladies who were running the shop that day did the shop credit! Lots of smiling and friendly banter. They were very happy to help with our cake choices and even told us about their own personal favourites. We were not rushed at all, this all added to the real positive experience of The Passionate Baker.
Whilst I was gorging on my pie, I got to thinking about the work that goes into creating the masterpieces that are served up here. From the bread through to the pastries and cakes. Like me, nightshifts would be a big part of the baker’s life. All the treats on offer would be a result of someone kneading, mixing and baking right the way through the night. That takes dedication and hard work in my opinion. In fact, not just that, it takes passion!
The Passionate Baker. Yep, the name says it all!