Monday, 30 May 2011

La Patisserie, Petersham

This year has seen my longest birthday celebrations ever. Kind gifts have stretched it out over a month. Starting at the Sydney Fish Market Seafood School and concluding this weekend with the Sydney Community College 'Discovering Little Portugal in Petersham' tour.

The highlight of the day was a visit to La Patisserie. The best known bakery in Petersham, at the expense of virtually everywhere else, is Sweet Belem. However, I love discovering the unsung local hero and with its' broken sign and less glamorous interior La Patisserie is definitely that.

We got to visit the kitchen at the back of the shop where we met the owner Fernando. His passion for, and joy in, baking traditional Portuguese pastries couldn't help but be infectious. Fernando starts work at midnight every day to churn out delights for the shop and the local businesses he wholesales to. His commitment means that he only gets six hours of sleep each day divided into two three hour power naps.

We were given a tray of sweets to sample and try all of them I did! Even though my stomach was groaning from being absolutely full from lunch. From front to back we have pastel di nata (egg custard tarts), falhado de gila (marrow jam pastry), almond tarts, limao e coco (lemon and almond tarts), queijada (ricotta tarts) and tijelada (baked egg custard).

Fernando does everything by hand believing that it gives you a superior product. Apparently machines are available that will press out your pastry cases for you, but they don't give such a flaky pastry case. On Saturday's he sells 1,500 casa di nata and apparently he has got it down to two hours to hand shape all of the tart cases. He's been baking since he was eleven if you've got any ideas of trying to beat his record!

We were given the chance to fill our own pastry cases. A small round of pastry is placed in the centre of each mould and then a wet thumb is used to shape it to the edges. Above are my two efforts. Fernando told me that he was very impressed. However, when I asked if he'd use them in the shop he replied with a firm 'no'. There wasn't even any hesitation to soften the blow!!

The final treat we got to try was molotov, an egg white dessert served with a caramel sauce. The only way to describe the molotov is as a Portuguese version of a pavlova. It's much lighter, using less sugar than a traditional meringue. The caramel sauce cancels out any health benefits there might have been!

My favourite cake was the limao e coco / lemon and almond tarts. There was a lovely freshness of the lemon and texture from the almond meal. As you'd expect the pastel di nata / custard tarts were very good too. The texture and flavour from the custard was excellent. Personally I'd like a little bit of cinnamon added to the tarts.

I was surprised to see how basic the kitchen was. There was no modern trappings, just two work benches, an oven, a couple of gas rings that look like they could be used camping and lots of racks on which to cool those custard tarts. It just goes to show you what passion and a lot of hard work can achieve.

La Patisserie
45 New Canterbury Road

La Patisserie on Urbanspoon


  1. i'm a fan of the portuguese tarts at La Patisserie. and at least i think they allow you to take photos too, not like Sweet Belem :-)

  2. What a great tour! I dropped by La Patisserie last time I was in Petersham for custard tarts and coffee. Great tarts, not so great coffee. The molotov looks and sounds amazing!

  3. woah that molotov is calling to me!

  4. @John @Suze I don't know what he usually does with his egg whites, but he said that the molotov is regularly in the café any more.

    Fernando was such a lovely guy I'm sure if you called ahead he'd make one for you to buy!

  5. Oh I would so love to meet this Fernando!
    Sounds so inspiring to me.
    Will have to make some time to head up the road for some egg tarts from La Pattiserie =)

  6. Fernando and his La Patissery are part of the Petersham History!Amazing cakes, swets, milk bread (paozinho de leite) are all made with love, his Bolo Rei is the Best in Town!

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