On Monday August 3rd 2021 Lifeline registered the highest number of calls ever due to the COVID-19 pandemic as people experienced feelings of loneliness and isolation. Pastry chef Ned Parker and his partner Sabrina Little decided to do something to help generate donations to mental health charity Beyond Blue and that was to bake. And that's how Lockdown Pastries was born!
Lockdown Pastries is a set of 3 types of hand made pastries all delivered for $23 in Sydney's inner west. People place their orders with Ned or Sabrina via DM on Instagram. Ned who grew up near Port Macquarie has worked in Brisbane's Urbane, The Ledbury in Notting Hill and restaurant Daniel Berlin Krog in Southern Sweden and most recently at Wood Cut at Crown Barangaroo. He met the self-described "Indonesian-British hybrid" Sabrina in London who was studying International Business and the two moved back to Sydney together once COVID-19 hit.
"I found myself baking (and eating) quite a lot of pastries during the first weeks of lockdown. We were dropping them off to friends and family. Our friend Kate told us that one of her friends would love to buy some pastries if we were willing to sell them. At first, we planned on selling to friends and family as a way to keep busy. It took around 5 days to get the ball rolling (packaging, labelling, photos, etc). At first, it was just something to keep busy and bring some joy to family and friends. When we noticed a lot of people becoming interested, we decided to turn it into a project to raise funds for a charity," says Ned.
They decided to focus on Beyond Blue, a mental health charity. "We wanted to support a mental health charity during a time that is extremely difficult to a lot of people. After seeing that lifeline calls had doubled, it seemed like the right thing to do," says Ned.
Where there's a will there's a way and at first he was making all the pastries by hand before buying a KitchenAid mixer to do the mixing. Currently he bakes 100 pastries a week for delivery on Saturday. "It’s around 30 hours of work a week from processing orders, writing menus, shopping, baking, cutting labels, packing and delivering it’s quite busy especially with Sabrina working full time from home. I’m making all the pastries out of my home kitchen, so it is a lot of work, usually starting at around 4AM on Saturdays," explains Ned.
Sabrina takes care of the business side of things doing the spreadsheets, orders, payments, labels, packing, delivery and some of the correspondence with their partnerships. Both of them donate their time to this initiative along with all of the proceeds. "We cover costs as far as ingredients. The rest (fuel, packaging, labour and utility bills) we consider to be our part of our personal donation. We are nearing the $3,000 mark in proceeds at the moment and are over the moon about the all the support we received in the past 6 weeks!" says Sabrina.
They deliver the pastries exactly on time in recyclable packaging and I can't wait to try them. The Kouign Amann (pronounced kwing uh mon) is the queen of pastries IMHO. It's a buttery, caramelised pastry with a multitude of visible layers. This beauty is made using Pepe Saya cultured butter and flavoured with aromatic cardamom and cinnamon. It will transport you to Copenhagen with every bite with the sticky caramelised bottom and butter flavour. It's nothing short of heaven.
The Choux au Craquelin is a chocolate, hazelnut and coffee flavoured custard filled choux puff with a crackling biscuit top and a filing made from coffee and hazelnut cream with Sample Coffee's Pacemaker blend using Finca El Meridiano (Colombia) and Telila (ethiopia) beans. The custard is smooth and the pastry crunchy on top.
I completely expected to try a bite of the rhubart and almond tart and pass it on but I adored this tart. The tart shell is skillfully thin, crisp and buttery and there's a moist almond meal and vanilla cake topped with perfectly sweet tart rhubarb on top.
The menu will swap out items and this week the rhubarb and almond tart will be swapped out for a blood orange meringue tart. The couple plan to keep going while lockdown is on. "I guess it’s good to keep busy to keep our minds off things at the moment. Especially for Ned, as he is currently out of work. It’s a give and take! We get just as much out of it," says Sabrina.
So tell me Dear Reader, how are you feeling during lockdown? Do you have a charity that you support?
This food was independently paid for.