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
This Spotswood bakery countertop looks like a bake sale, with cakes, doughnuts, cookies, pastries and breads coming out of the kitchen daily. The Danishes made with seasonal fruit are glossy and puffy with a rich butter flavour. And the best part is they do vegan treats that aren’t tokenistic. You won’t see a single bliss ball but plenty of whole cakes, cookies, and spicy cinnamon rolls.
Rustica’s Ispahan croissant is possibly the most photogenic croissant in Melbourne. Twice baked with a raspberry and lychee filling and topped with a trickle of pink icing and dried flowers, they are flaky on the outside and jammy and bread-and-butter pudding-like inside. We’re willing to pay $7 for a croissant if this is what we’re getting.
Brunetti has been around since 1985 and the café has grown into a sprawling ode to the Italian pasticceria, with cabinets of whole cakes, macarons, and perfect, glossy domes of creaminess. The best things, however, are still the traditional biscotti, cannoli, and amaretti, best enjoyed with a coffee on the side.
There’s more to Middle Eastern pastries than baklava. Get a crash course in Lebanese treats at Balha’s Pastry, where you can buy date-filled ma’mouls, kadaif (pistachio bird’s nest), and namoura (semolina cake) by the kilo. Come during Ramadan or the before the Eid celebrations for special festive treats.
His Zumbarons may have made him a household name, but Adriano Zumbo Patisserie’s packed cabinets are where it’s at. The passionfruit tarts with passionfruit curd and decorated with an airbrushed sunset finish are still a tropical dream long after they were debuted.
On their window, Monarch Cakes claims to be “Exquisite since 1934”, and they’re not lying. 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 kooglhoupf, 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.
Cobb Lane’s bombolones are legendary, which is why they’re a regular at Melbourne’s ludicrously popular bake sale Flour Market. Flavours like orange blossom and blueberry, and the Jaffa-like chocolate custard and mandarin marmalade, are sophisticated and go amazingly with the house filter coffee.
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 their 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.
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.