Pastry heaven  

SOMETIMES I start to roll my eyes when I read the pretentious and often embellished backstory to a new restaurant or food product.

Like the beer that was brewed by celibate monks in a cave in Syria  for 12 years using yeast extracted from the Turin shroud.

Thankfully The Woodfired Baker in Maylands has a genuine and very interesting yarn behind it.

Artisan bread maker Andrew Ritchie was on the lookout for a new project in Perth in 2010 when he spotted a dilapidated wood-fired oven, in the back of an art gallery in Maylands, that hadn’t been used since 1967.

After a bit of digging, he learned that the Metters oven had been installed in 1920 for German-born baker Georg Rossbach, who up until the outbreak of Word War II had used it to bake bread and deliver loaves door-to-door in Maylands, with the wood for the oven coming from Marvel’s Wood Yard across the road.

The bakery changed hands several times until 1967, when the doors were shut for good and the building became an antique shop, a real estate agency and a clothing store over the years.

Ritchie decided to bring the “old girl” back to life and over the space of three months carefully restored the oven with bricklaying, metalwork and repointing.

In 2011, the oven was used for the first time in earnest in 44 years when The Woodfired Baker delivered its first batch of artisan sourdough bread to local restaurants, cafes and farmer’s markets. 

Since then The Woodfired Baker has gone from strength-to-strength and now makes more than 1500 loaves a week.

I previously visited their Whatley Cresent bakery to try their fantastic range of wholemeal, white, rye and fruit sourdough loaves.

I must embarrassingly concede I wasn’t a fan of sourdough bread in the past – I found it too dense – but the woodfired technique really it gives it a lighter touch and ensures a more rounded, sophisticated flavour. On my return visit to The Woodfired Bakery, it was time to try some of the other goodies on show.

The small bakery/sit-in cafe had a mouthwatering and colourful array of pastries, cakes, biscuits and tarts in display cabinets beside the till, as well as a small cabinet with hot food like pies and sausage rolls.

Some of the dainty fruit tarts and Danish pastries looked particularly inviting, but I kicked things off by ordering a pork, apple and fennel sausage roll ($6).

I had just been to the dentist and got two fillings, so I could barely speak and sounded like a cross between the Elephant Man and Billy Connolly. Throw in the lady behind the till’s strong French accent and it was like the United Nations on acid, but we muddled through and got there in the end.

The aroma from the sausage roll was so lovely, I nearly lept over the counter and ripped open the cardboard box it was packaged in.

There was a lovely sweetness from the pork and apple, and they didn’t hold back on the fennel. 

It was all perfectly balanced and made for a delicious lunchtime treat. Top notch.

The beef goulash pie ($9) was almost as good – buttery light pastry, hearty chunks of tender meat and a thick moreish gravy that was just the right consistency.

Again this pie had a subtle sweetness to it (maybe red capsicum) and was bursting with flavour. It was very enjoyable but didn’t hit the ethereal heights of the sausage roll and could have perhaps done with a bit more smoked paprika in there to up the flavour.

I was intrigued by the gorgeous looking savoury Danish pastries (bacon and béchamel, and mushroom and bechamel both $5.50) so I took a couple home for dinner and heated them up in the oven.

They were absolutely divine – the masterstroke was the béchamel; a gooey and indulgent addition to the toasted pastry. The mushrooms weren’t just window dressing and had a strong meaty punch that contrasted nicely with the creamy sauce. A top notch savoury pastry.

My wife rounded things off with a delightful looking strawberry tart ($6).

“Lovely fresh strawberry on there and a gorgeous buttery casing,” she noted in between mouthfuls. “Delicious”.

The food at The Woodfired Baker was so good it just about took my mind off my trip to the dentist to see Dr Christian Szell.

My only gripe about Woodfired – there was only one person serving while I was there (she had to make the coffees as well) so it was a bit slow going getting the food.

The Woodfired Baker
194 Whatley Cresent, Maylands


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