On an quiet strip mall in Turramurra is a bakery cranking out some of the most delicious pastries and breads in Sydney. In a very short space of time Flour Shop has amassed a huge following of people scrambling for buttery pastries, caramel croissants and "sour" sourdough bread.
It's day 7 of social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic and so far Mr NQN and I have stayed indoors and retreated from socialising in a bid to help flatten the curve only venturing out to get food once. But then we needed bread and the place that happened to have bread and pastry galore was Flour Shop in Turramurra. Our plan was to get in, pay and get out.
Flour Shop owners Anu Haran and Laura Gonzalez first met in London 7 years ago on a train. It was there that they discovered a mutual love of food and they started to run supper clubs. You may recognise Anu's name because she and her husband Parag started the One Table supper club in Sydney which I wrote about in 2018. But that has now given way to Flour Shop with Laura. "Laura does all of our breads. And I do all the pastries. I think why we work well together is because we are the same level of obsessive. Also, we’re from different cultural backgrounds. She is Argentinean-Spanish and I am Indian. There is definitely a huge influence from our cultures that we bring to everything - whether it’s the pie filling or the bread specials or the Danishes," says Anu.
Anu expands on the pair's history, "Laura had since left her corporate job to open her own café in Reading. She later sold the business to start specialising in bread. She started working at the Snapery in London. They have one of the best sourdough breads in London. She too knew that her next step would be a venture with me. We weren’t sure which country...we explored England, India and Sydney. Eventually stars aligned and Flour Shop was born here in Sydney."
I messaged Anu with my get in and get out plan idea and that wasn't a problem. I pre-ordered one of everything (yes really, go big or stay in) and we turn up to collect our goodies.
The space is large with an open kitchen. Laura, Anu and their staff are busy shaping sourdough loaves and pulling out caramel croissants from the molds. Their space is also a location for people who have an interest in baking or want to pull up a spot and knead away.
One woman is helping them today as her oven is out of commission and she is using their oven. Flour Shop is the unofficial village oven with a loyal patronage from Turramurra locals who bring produce from their gardens to be used in their baked goods. For their breads and pastries they use a few different flours. "For our breads, we use organic spelt and rye and sustainable white bakers flour. For pastries we use a mix of plain flour, sustainable white bakers and some spelt," says Anu.
We leave carrying a bag full of $102 worth of pastries and breads and a latte using coffee by Single O for Mr NQN. At home I heat them up in a 180C/350F oven for 5 minutes and then the sampling commences.
We start with the Jerusalem bagels ($6) of which there is a sobrassada and a sobrassada and egg version. These aren't dense, heavy bagels. They are light and puffy with plenty of seeds on all sides. Anu describes them as, "Soft, elongated slightly sweet breads that you find on the streets of Jerusalem - at least that is where I first ate them!". I prefer the plain sobrassada bagel because the egg is a bit rubbery although I'd like a tad more filling in the centre.
One of my favourite savoury items is the chorizo, cheddar and jalapeno croissant ($6) which is really three of my favourite ingredients in one buttery, layered shell. The butter they use is Melbourne's Saint David Dairy cultured butter. If you're looking for something more traditional you'll swoon over the smoked ham, aged cheddar and sharp mustard croissant ($6). Both these croissants use meat from a small local butcher truck.
I try a caramel croissant ($5), a sweet, sticky and buttery confection that is a close cousin of the kouign amann. My goodness it is glorious, so much so that I almost start speaking in tongues. I'm not the only one in raptures with this (Mr NQN is too and the man doesn't even like pastry). It's their best selling item and they went from producing 60 of these a week to over 1,300. If you're lucky you'll hit them when they slide a fresh batch of these out of the oven.
The hot cross bun ($4) is nice with a good amount of orange peel flavour. I must admit though, as much as I like a bakery hot cross buns, I'm partial to supermarket ones because I like the buns baked together because of the soft sides but that's just me personally.
Also there is a hot cross bun loaf available. This was borne out of bun rolling fatigue, "We got sick of shaping hot cross buns!" says Anu.
I'm not usually a pain au chocolat ($5) lover because I feel like the chocolate usually tastes burnt but I was persuaded to try this after seeing a comment from them on their Instagram about getting around the burnt chocolate flavour. Usually croissants are baked at 180C/350F which can burn the chocolate but they use Zokoko chocolate that is local and seems to stand up to the baking better and you know what? It's great. Not a trace of burnt chocolate flavour.
The almond croissant ($6) is their version of a traditional almond croissant. Traditionally these are made with day old croissants, dipped in a sugar syrup and filled with frangipane and baked again. Anu explains that their ethos to avoid wastage means that there is never leftover croissants. Their version is croissant scroll filled with plenty of citrusy frangipane and baked with flaked almonds and icing sugar. I do still prefer the double baked almond croissant because of the caramelisation from the sugar syrup and butter but if you don't like them these are definitely worth a go.
Depending on the day that you go, they bake either cardamom sticky buns or Biscoff sticky buns using a brioche dough. Both are delicious but the cardamom cinnamon pips the Biscoff one slightly for its perfect usage of cardamom and cinnamon and how it transports you to Scandinavia with just one bite.
If you're looking for something more substantial there are pies on offer. These are made using a rough puff and this week's pies are made using some rye flour for a bit of wholemeal goodness.
It's easy to almost forget the bread with all the eye-catching pastries on offer but the bread is Laura's baby and the backbone of the bakery according to Anu. It is made using sustainable chemical free and organic flours. The starter is from England at the Snapery and Anu says, "We started feeding it local flours the day she got here and it built up the same strength that it had in England. Starters get used to flours and a certain kind of feed. So it took 3-4 feeds before it got used to the flour and now its back to its former days of glory!". It's a dense firm sourdough, best topped with something or toasted with plenty of butter.
The only bad news? You'll have to wait until tomorrow to get your hands on one of these pastries as it's only open from Thursday to Sunday. "We’re open Thursday to Sunday. That’s a conscious decision as we need rest during the week. Otherwise we’d start hating doing it. I honestly feel that the reason a lot of bakers are in a bad mood and irritable is because they’re severely lacking in sleep," says Anu.
So tell me Dear Reader, are you a bread or pastry person? Do you have a pastry that you love the best? Could you do baker's hours?
The food in this post was independently paid for.
16 Princes St, Turramurra NSW 2074
Thursday to Sunday 6:30am–3:30pm
Monday to Wednesday closed