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It’s a difficult decision to decide what to tell you first about Ganache Patisserie. It’s tough because if you’re a fan of croissants, you must know the almond croissant at this lovely French cafe/bakery. But if it’s the cake that makes you happy, then you’ll want to know all about black and white.
Either way, the most important thing is to treat yourself fast, because this lovely patisserie, which has been delighting locals in Sydney’s Castlecrag for two decades, is taking a break. The building that houses the patisserie is being demolished and rebuilt, so the patisserie will temporarily close its doors at the end of November.
But owner Didier Sockeel assures us he will be back, which is a good thing for those who have become fans of his baking skills.
Since there will be a break and you may not be able to visit for a while, instead of choosing between the croissant and the cake, take both. There are options like babka or an almond croissant for breakfast, and you can buy a box of goodies to take home, including an elegant square cupcake covered in white chocolate which is one of the signature creations. of Sockel.
There’s a constant stream of people coming in – to sit down with a coffee and a croissant, to grab a big pastry, or to take an order – a cake for a special occasion, or a box full of savouries. Past the counter, Sockeel can be seen working from the back, cutting a tray of pastry into neat rectangles and putting pies in the oven.
You can buy bread (including baguettes, of course) and warm pies, but the heart of things here is sweet: the intricate cakes, pretty pies and flaky pastries. The croissants are both light but with just the right amount of chewiness, puffiness and butter. And if you’re the type to feast on a crunchy almond croissant, but avoid them often for fear of getting a center that’s too mushy, good news. These are for you. Soft, crunchy and buttery, they are made with croissants from the day before. But it is not a question here of embellishing what did not manage to sell, these are so popular that the pastry shop deliberately retains part of the croissants of the day to make almond croissants for the next day.
“They are very popular. We have the croissant that we keep from the day before. We soak them in a very sweet syrup, so that they become moist again, we garnish [fill] them with fresh almond cream, which is a cream mixed with custard, so it’s not too heavy, and we cook it again. It’s cooked every morning, first in a very low oven, then it comes out, a little icing sugar, a dusting of fresh slivered almonds. It’s always the first to go. We can’t get enough,” says Sockeel.
In addition to the almond version, there are plain and chocolate croissants, and pastries with various filings. Brioche appears in multiple forms – long buns topped with crunchy sugar cubes; rounds with pastry cream and raspberry; sweet little baba shapes. And then, the counter overflowing with pies, macaroons and colorful cakes, including two Sokeel specialties. One – not surprising given the name of the pastry – is a chocolate ganache cake, with a layer of rich ganache between layers of light chocolate sponge cake. The other is a real delight for chocolate lovers. The ‘black and white’ has layers of dark chocolate mousse, a light flourless sponge cake in the center and a white chocolate Bavarian. The stack is then wrapped in a layer of chocolate – white, milk or dark. It is sold in individual portions and in cakes of various sizes.
“We can not not to have him, he has to be here every day,” Sockeel says. It is popular with children, but also celiacs, as it is completely gluten-free. It’s also fun to eat, cutting through the coating to reveal the layers inside.
He’s been doing it since he created the pastry shop over 20 years ago. Born in the far north of France, Sockeel fell in love with cooking at an early age.
“I wanted to do this job since I was six years old…my mother was going to have my second sister and sent me to my cousin to take care of me. He happens to be a baker and when I woke up in the morning, before going to school, I go to the bakery, I say hello to him. And you know, I started to smell the bread coming out of the oven and touching the dough, and I was hooked. Completely addicted, that is to say all the holidays I can have, school holidays, from seven, eight and nine years old I started working with him… that’s where I got caught the virus and it never left me.
After graduating, work took him around the world, including London, South Africa, Brazil, the United States, Spain and Belgium, and then, while working on a ship cruise, Australia in 1992. He loved it so much he returned in 1993 and got a job at The Renaissance at The Rocks. “They gave me this opportunity, and it changed my life.” In 2001 he seized another opportunity, buying a business in Castlecrag where he had done some work, and opening Ganache.
And although 21 years have passed, garnering a huge following for his croissants and cakes, he is still eager to learn and try new things. The doors may be about to close for a little while, but Sockeel says he’ll definitely be back. “I’m going to take a break, learn things, go abroad, then I’ll be ready to start the new place when we come back.”