Dessert chef Lorraine Godsmark has been known to say this about her rhubarb pie:
“I try not to eat the whole thing, but I always fail.”
Ah, Chef, I failed too. Resistance is futile. Nom nom nom.
5 Top Places for Sweets in the City: Part 1
A black belt in eating desserts – that’s what I have.
It’s in my DNA…and my mother’s and my grandfather’s. Now you see the inevitability of my sweet tooth?
The belt is only figurative, of course. Dresses work best on those red letter days when I go on a dessert rampage in the city. Real belts would be ill-advised and uncomfortable.
This is part of a series showcasing 5 top places for dessert in the Sydney CBD. I’ll tell you about:
- a variety of cakes,
- icy confections, and
- honorable mentions of cheap and cheerful treats.
Part 1 features Lorraine’s Patisserie. At this blue ribbon patisserie hidden in a CBD laneway, respected dessert veteran Lorraine Godsmark conjures up elegant delights that you’d be proud to order for your parents’ diamond anniversary.
Lorraine Godsmark – Australia’s best-loved accidental dessert chef
Godsmark was waiting on tables to finance her ski trips, when Sydney restauranteur Neil Perry induced her to make the switch to pastry work.
One small step across the kitchen pass for Godsmark, but a giant leap for dessert-kind.
- have stalked Godsmark from her years as executive pastry chef at award-winning restaurant Rockpool, through to her time at stand-alone shops Six Seven Ate and Yellow Bistro, and
- sighed happily when she surfaced at Lorraine’s Patisserie after a shopfront hiatus of about a year.
I’m glad to report that the happiness is mutual.
Breaking into a big smile, Godsmark happily reveals that a wonderful thing about opening Lorraine’s Patisserie is having customers walk in telling her they are glad she is back. (That made me feel a bit better about dragging her away from her baking to talk to me.)
A Sweet Commitment
This is one chef who is committed to her desserts.
Godsmark brims with ideas for new desserts. The problem, she admits, lies in finding time to develop and perfect them to achieve a “consistency in product“. That means refining the recipe and technique to ensure the same result every time.
That phrase crops up a few times in our conversation. But the extent of Godsmark’s commitment to uniform high standards is unveiled when I randomly quiz her on how long it took to perfect some items.
~ The chocolate macademia tart took 2 years to develop.
~ The flourless chocolate slice? 7 years. She reveals it was tricky getting rid of the middle-cake sag.
~ As for that famous date tart? 7 years as well. But that doesn’t mean she can make it in her sleep (see below).
7 years spent on perfecting a dessert?! If that’s not commitment, I don’t know what is. Couples have wedded and divorced in shorter times.
Little Shop of Corkers
Lorraine’s Patisserie is in a magical laneway off bustling George Street. Look up and you’ll see Forgotten Songs, a whimsical installation of bird cages. From there, follow your nose to baking smells wafting from Palings Lane.
Here is a selection of sublime offerings from Lorraine’s Patisserie. In some cases, explicit photographs replace verbose descriptions.
Prices range from $4.50 for a muffin, to $15 for a slice of that fine dining dessert, the date tart.
The Chef’s Favourite Pick-me-up
FITK: Which is your pick-me-up dessert after an especially arduous day?
LG: The chocolate macademia tart, because it is full of surprises. [Goes on to describe each tempting component, but I’ll leave you to make your own discovery.] It is also small enough not to be an overindulgence.
That elegant stripe in the centre is made by Godsmark knighting each tart with a gold-dipped skewer.
The Lightest, Mousse-iest Cheesecake
A dense, American-style cheesecake this is not. Godsmark’s cheesecake is so light that it is as fragile as a dream.
The person taking my order refused to let the cheesecake and the banana cake co-habit in my home-brought box, saying nicely, “The cheesecake is very delicate. We don’t want the banana cake crushing it.”
I agreed, impressed by the quality control. So I gave her my second box. (Always travel with tupperware and ziplock bags, especially on food excursions.)
The buttery base has appealing nuggets of oats. It also contains an intriguing but oh-so-right ingredient that I identified only when I ate it the second time. Drop me a line if you think you know what it is.
The Not-just-banana Banana Cake
Banana cake is not one of my die-die-must-eat type of food. (Show me a sponge cake and we’ll talk.)
And yet, this one was so textural and large-crumbed that I couldn’t resist it. It is as full-bodied as the cheesecake is ephemeral.
Shredded coconut for crunch. Sticky dried fig slices. Sugar-dusted top (it’s fun to crush the crystals between your teeth).
That Signature Date Tart
My first taste of the signature date tart was like eating a cloud. It has a buttery base, a surprisingly spongy tanned top, and a middle of velvety custard on jammy Medjool dates.
With its considerable, ardent fan base, this tart would be the envy of tarted-up starlets everywhere.
Godsmark has been making this tart since the 80s when you could only get it at Neil Perry’s fine dining restaurant Rockpool. Yet she shows no sign of being jaded. It remains a challenging, manual, time-consuming dessert for her – something to do with getting a layer that is spirit-level even.
FITK: Do you still eat that date tart?
LG: I can’t afford to eat it! Too many customers want it.
Too right. On the days Godsmark makes it, it flies out the door within 2 or 3 hours. Diehard fans follow the patisserie’s Facebook page just to get Date Tart Day notifications.
If there ever existed such a thing as a special occasion tart, this is it. I know a couple – married for around 30 years – who have marked majority of their wedding anniversaries with a slice of this date tart.
Now, if that’s not a sweet commitment, I don’t know what is.
This is an uncommissioned, independent review.
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