Each week, chef and food writer Suzi Fitzpatrick quizzes local industry identities on what’s hot on the hospitality scene. This week, she rose to the occasion with baker Oskar Janczewska from Prickleberry Sourdough.
Three years ago, bread in Ballarat was a sad affair. Sure, you could get good sourdough at the local markets but if you asked the baker where it was from, the answer was always Melbourne or Geelong. So good bread was put in to the "too hard" bread basket. Then things started to change for the better. First, we scored Giorgio the baker from Basilio Sourdough who, until then, had been baking up a storm at Red Beard Bakery in Trentham. Giorgio knew what Ballarat kneaded! And now, we are so lucky to also have the new kid on the block, Prickleberry Sourdough.
Suzi: I just liked you guys on Facebook this morning. Who is behind the marketing and the cutest little Prickleberry chef fairy on your logo?
Oskar: That’s my wife, Robyn’s, work. She does all the bookwork, advertising, organising. We were drawing chefs and her’s was the best.
S: Does Robyn join you in the kitchen baking?
Oskar: When she’s got spare time. We moved to Ballarat eight months ago and she works full-time for the Department of Sustainability and Environment in forest management.
S: Where does the name Prickleberry come from?
O: Robyn’s parents live in Yass and their property is Prickleberry Farm.
S: I’m guessing your sourdough is an old family recipe?
O: Yes. Mum and Dad are the owners of Europa Cake Shop in Acland Street, St Kilda. They are both qualified pastry chefs who trained in Poland.
S: Get out of town! No, don’t, stay!
I love that cake shop. It’s an institution with all the shiny, beautiful pastries in the window. I worked at Big Mouth in Acland Street and was always late for work because I could never decide what to eat at Europa. Your parents are responsible for some of my most glorious sugar moments.
O: I grew up in that shop kitchen. My first babysitter was a ball of dough. Dad would sit me in the high chair and then, later, Mum would carry me into the shop for the day.
S: Well, I’m hoping you’ll be doing a few cakes (my daughter, Frankie, and I are both drooling now)...
O: We are selling four types of sourdough a rye, a blonde-style, dinner rolls and a fruit bread, for which we use apricots that have been soaked in port for 24 hours. When the bread’s done, I’ve been making lemon curd-filled meringue cup cakes, a deluxe chocolate truffle cake with a soft centre of hazelnut cream, rum balls, yo-yos and an apple tart that is layers of buttery puff pastry, soft vanilla fondant then fine disks of apple fanned out and sprinkled with sugar and caramelised.
S: Where can we buy your fine bread and tasty treats?
O: We are very much in the infancy of the business. We are focusing on farmers’ markets, Ballarat’s Trash and Trivia Market every Sunday morning and the Beaufort market. But, we will also service special orders for cafes and catering. We would love to have some local providores selling our product.
S: Being new to Ballarat, have you found a couple of places to grab a bite?
O: We love to pop down to Stockade Cellars on the corner of Mair and Armstrong streets. They have a truly excellent range of cheese, smallgoods and wine. We also love the coffee at Cafe Lekker – it’s very consistent.
For more information, visit www.prickleberrysourdough.com