Is it possible to build a business off the back of a lamington? When it's the arctic flurry of shaved coconut embellishing a hefty cube of chocolate-coated vanilla sponge, soaked in panna cotta and shot through with crimson berry compote at Nadine Ingram's Flour and Stone bakery in Woolloomooloo, the answer is yes.
Ingram, with her community-driven, small-batch approach, has taken the most deceptively simple baked goods and raised them to cult-like status, thanks to an unwavering commitment to precision, quality and flavour. Since it was established in 2011, Flour and Stone has become a Sydney institution with queues out the door - and they’re still a regular occurrence even with an extra space added two doors down.
It’s hard to imagine how a team of 22 fit behind the tiled wall when you sneak a peek from the communal 8-seater at no. 53, the new annexe. A high table, a pair of outdoor settings and a banquette seat provide extra dining space (but nowhere near enough to sate demand). The room is decorated in colourful Dave Teer artworks inspired by Old-fashioned vanilla cake, but the real eye candy is the display cabinet packed with madeleines, lemon drizzle cake, brulee tarts, and chocolate, raspberry and buttermilk cakes.
Do not discount the savoury treats though. Spanakopita ferries a textbook-perfect spinach and feta filling between layers of delicate puff pastry; crisp iceberg lettuce plays a surprisingly significant role in the success of a chicken ciabatta sambo with buttered corn, avocado and a chilli aioli; and lamb, potato and rosemary pie offers the hearty comfort of a Sunday roast under a flaky, blistered pastry lid. The rustic thrills carry all the way down to the housemade tomato sauce, an essential companion to the pork sausage spiked with caraway’s anise bite.
Both the salon and annexe are a bit of squeeze, with most of the space in the annexe given over to the pastry chefs. What's left is for takeaway collection to ease the traffic flow at this wildly popular bakehouse. The appeal of those zesty, orange-blossom-scented orange and fennel drizzle cakes shows no signs of diminishing as they round the ten year mark.