It's amazing that pastry, at its simplest, is just flour, lots of butter, sugar, and maybe an egg or two. Yet Melbourne's best bakeries and patisseries have crafted a diverse range of treats from these raw ingredients, from what could be the best croissants in the world to old-school cakes you want to take home to your grandmother.
Melbourne's best patisseries
If croissants are the benchmark of a patisserie, Agathe Kerr’s clears it with ease. She leaves them out for 24 hours to allow the dough to rest the yeast to ferment, and the butter to develop a flavour like cultured butter. Don’t go past her special edition croissants if they’re available, like the fragrant green pandan-infused one.
It feels like your birthday every day at Beatrix. This corner café in North Melbourne makes towering bundt and layer cakes daily, as well as sweet tarts. Local favourites are the Red Velvet and the pistachio and lemon curd cake, but you’ll want to buy a slice if it happens to be Bakewell tart day on your visit.
Their pastries fly out of the shop by noon most days, but does Lune really cut the mustard? In short, yes. Created in a climate-controlled lab, Lune croissants are almost mathematically perfect: crisp and golden with visible layers of delicate pastry. Come early to nab the lemon curd cruffins, piped to the gills with a tart curd and sprinkled with citrus sugar.
Pastry Chef Marianna DiBartolo is the guru here, a guru who learnt from an expert – her Sicilian-born mum, who painstakingly baked everything from scratch. Dolcetti’s sweet treats like the luscious nougat, crunchy cannoli and panna cotta filled tarts are utterly exquisite, but it is the doughnuts people line up for. Zia mia, this joint is a joy.
In the cake world, Bibelot’s pastries and confectionary are couture. The gleaming chocolate bonbons look too pretty to eat, and so do the individual-sized pastries. Try the Hazelnut-Praline Crunch a grown-up take on the classic Ferrero Rocher sitting atop a cake made of layers of smooth mousse and crème.
On its window, Monarch Cakes claims to be “Exquisite since 1934”, and it's not a lie. There’s an old-school charm to this St Kilda cake shop, the kind that no amount of climate-controlled, Parisian pastry precision can match. The bundt chocolate kugelhopf, a marble cake with stripes of melted chocolate throughout, is the kind of cake you want to take home to your mother. Get a slice of the Polish baked cheesecake while you’re there – it’s dense with creamy cottage cheese, made from a century-old recipe.
You’d almost think you had wandered into a little patisserie in the Marais upon entering Cavallini – the feel is distinctly European. Creations by pastry chef Robert Coco include sourdough and olive bread, panini, pizzette and a range of sweet and savoury viennoisserie including a spinach and bechamel topped croissant guaranteed to make you weak at the knees. There is coffee, of course and a cute courtyard if you feel like eating en plein air / alfresco.
LuxBite’s cakes and pastry are textbook French when it comes to technique, with not-so-classic flavour pairings. You’ll find green tea and Japanese rice wine in LuxBite's version of the opera cake, and seven layers of nostalgia in the Lolly Bag cake. Try the Kuma tart, which looks like an anime bear’s face, and hides a white chocolate milkshake mousse and banana and strawberry crème within.
Locals are lucky to have Tivoli Road on their doorstep. Run by head baker Michael James and partner Pippa, the bakery makes deeply tan, glossy escargots topped with chopped pistachios and pork sausage rolls wrapped with flaky pastry and flecked with fennel seeds.
This bakery is best known for its sourdough loaves, but you’d be a fool not to sample the savoury pastries. The beef pies are chunky beasts with plenty of tomato-infused gravy and nicely crimped edges; and the spinach and cheese pastry parcels packed with salty feta, dill and pine nuts dipped in the tart house-made kasundi make a great portable lunch.