Pies, Sourdough, Vanilla Slice & Custard Tarts
- East Nowra Shopping Centre
It was good bread, crisp crust, and moist chewy crumb so I investigated.
The first thing I should say is that the East Nowra shops are unprepossessing, and I quite possibly would never have stopped here unless I had shifted to the area and they were my local.
There is a newsagent, fruit and vegetable, butcher, chemist, seafood, a series of takeaways and the bakery; also a number of what appear to be empty premises. I have only quickly checked the fruit and vegetable and the butcher both of which seem to have a good range and reasonable prices. Despite the lack of outside presentation and a window “display’ showing the rear end of a rack of plastic enshrouded loaves, I have however, been to the Bakery, a few times, while they sell a broad range of breads, buns, slices, donuts etc found in the traditional old style Australian bakery, I can vouch for the sourdough bread, the pies, the vanilla slice and custard tarts.
Sourdough – I would rate this better than the Berry Bakery sourdough, which, while good, has a “dry” crumb which invites lashings of olive oil or butter for those special occasions. The East Nowra sourdough is just as good as Sonoma (Sydney), different but as good, and is almost up there with Brickfields (Sydney) which similarly has a moist crumb but a better crust.
Pies – Have sampled the plain meat pie, both there, as a takeaway and scoffed in the car and at home with steamed vegetables. Plenty of meat, in a peppery gravy with a not too runny texture. The pastry is firm and tasty with a reasonable strength, at least I did not end up with scalding hot sauce in my lap. The Steak and Kidney pie was excellent, plenty of flavour and large pieces of kidney with the beef. The Chicken and Vegetable pie had plenty of quite large chunks of chicken along with modest sprinkling of peas, sweet corn and carrot.
Vanilla slice and custard tarts – They have two types of each, the traditional custard tart with crisp cooked pastry with the custard, which seems to be made with custard powder and the one here has a much too jelly-like quality ( gelatine?), added after cooking, as well as the baked custard tart, which is more of an egg custard. Given a choice I prefer the latter, but have no hesitation in buying the former. Just as with the Vanilla slice, given a choice I purchase the “French” vanilla slice, crisp pastry layering a thick layer of vanilla cream custard, but also love the traditional slice with passionfruit icing on top. I have only tried the French vanilla slice, which is very good, and both types of custard tart, the baked is very good, while I have some reservations about the traditional as the custard is a bit too jelly-like.
Ah nostalgia for my youth. All these traditional Australian cakes and pies are heritage items and we would be much poorer without them, certainly not ‘Haute Cuisine’, but when made well, as here in East Nowra, they are a celebration of our food culture and history. Judging by the continuous stream of customers, a lot of people in East Nowra know when they are on to a good thing.