About Me
I'm a Melbourne boy, hailing from St Kilda with one ex, one current wife and four kids. Love the outdoors and making new discoveries. I cook a lot at home (cheers from wife) and do some preserving, mostly jams, pickles and fruit liqueurs. This is the diary of a cooking journey.

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St Kilda Today

Monday, September 25, 2006
St Kilda Cakes
One of the delights of living in St Kilda is that we are in the centre of the universe as far as cake shops go. A few steps away is Carlisle Street with its unique Jewish atmosphere, perhaps more so at the Eastern end of the strip. There are several good cake shops and we have had more than one or two birthday cakes from the Russian bakery, which apart from the great rye bread they make, also produces excellent cakes and pastries.

However the apogee of cakes in St Kilda, nay, Victoria would have to be Acland Street. Here the cake shops put on mind boggling displays of cakes and pastries that hark back to the Eastern European origins of the owners. In a street that has undergone an amazing transformation over the last twenty-five years, these cake shops, along with the Scheherezade Restaurant Coffee Lounge, have been the one constant. No matter how trendy the street has become, the display of cakes has remained virtually unchanged, as if there is some master list as to how everything has to be be arranged on the window shelves. Tourists come from all over the world to gawk and to put on a few extra pounds.

Of all the cake shops in the street, we have our favourites, Monarch and Europa, both of which have a Polish heritage. From Monarch we adore the Black Forest cake, which sadly now has to be ordered in advance, though slices of it still have pride of place in the window and the other treat from here are the babkas - chocolate, cherry and poppyseed varieties all vie for attention. But the cake shop we go to the most is Europa and we mostly go for just one thing, the doughnuts and not any old doughnut, but the the Polish paczki (pronounced pon-shki). These plump beauties are made from a yeast batter, gently fried, then injected with plum butter subtly scented with rose water, then topped with a lemon icing. You can keep your Krispy Kremes, give me paczki any day.

Yesterday was one of those bleak spring days, with a howling gale and showers mixed with hail, that said better to stay inside and keep warm. We needed some bread, so I offered to do the vacuuming, if my wife D went to the shop. When she came back, there was a box inside a white paper bag with the Europa insignia stamped upon it. Last month we were in Acland Street and I was carrying the exact same box, waiting for my wife and daughter when a stranger approached and asked what was in the box. He was from out of town and had noticed people carrying the same package everywhere. So I told him that these were the best doughnuts he would ever taste and showed him where to get them.

When D opened our paper bag, there was an 'oh dear' moment as there were only two doughnuts for the three of us! Daughter M would not tolerate missing out on a whole one, these are one of her favourite treats. The Polish Shop at Queen Victoria market sells them along with the full range of Polish smallgoods; whenever we shop there, M always asks for one. So we cut one in half and gave M a whole one. She sat down on the couch and proceeded to lick it to death, eating all the icing first. I commented on it to D who said that when she was young, she did the exact same thing, comparing it to opening up a cream biscuit and licking out the filling first, which I know I've done and suspect gentle reader, you may have too.

I don't normally whinge, but to that person in Acland Street yesterday with the dog. Our daughter was bitten by one and is now very scared of them, that is the reason she was screaming. My wife was trying to tell you your dog should be on a leash so that you could control it, rather than it rushing at our terrified daughter. Your comment that this is an English speaking country was not clever and not appreciated.
  posted at 7:23 am

At 4:59 pm, Blogger Ange said...

The donuts sound delicious & one polish delicacy I am yet to try though they do sound simlar to my grandma;s which were made without the jam filling. next time I'm nearby will be picking up a few for sure!

At 11:16 pm, Blogger Jeanne said...

OMG, now the search is on to find paczki in London!! That sounds absolutely awesome. And as for the dog person, a pox on them. May they soon encounter an unleashed and irritable pet gila monster and see how that feels!

At 7:01 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Right, hunting down of these donuts must happen...though I suppose I could always ask my friend's mother if she knows how to make them, seeing as how she's of Polish origin and cooks the most wonderful Polish cuisine!

And I'm sorry to hear about the experience that your wife and daughter had. Does your wife have a mobile phone with a camera by any chance? Not that I wish for any member of your family to have a repeat of this horrible experience, but in future it'd be best just taking photos of the offence (any bite marks, the owner of the dog, the dog itself) and then going straight to the police.

As a responsible dog owner, it angers me greatly that people fail to handle their animals properly so that both the animal and the public are safe. Bloody idiots.

At 7:52 am, Blogger neil said...

Hi ange, I don't know that they would ever be better than babka's, but they are worth a trip.

Hi jeanne, shouldn't be too hard, there are apparently a lot of Poles in England. Some come iced, some with icing sugar - we prefer the iced ones. Why is it that (usually) male dog owners like to let their big dogs off leash in urban settings? They always say "my dog won't bite" but that is to miss the point. He knew he was wrong and reverted to racism to cover up. A big pussie pox on him.

Hi ellie, you won't be sorry if you can talk your friend's mum into making some! Good idea about the camera, forunately the dog didn't bite, otherwise I would have hunted him down myself.

At 7:53 am, Blogger Reb said...

I love those cake shops. I go there anytime I'm in Melbourne. I love the rum babas. As for the racist scum of a mut owner you had the misfortune to encounter, I'm with Ellie. Don't engage, report it and get the mongrel fined. And the dog too. I'm with Ellie there as well. NO dog should be without a leash on the street. Tosser.

At 11:53 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd love to have a taste of those donuts. Yum!

I'm sorry that dog owner was not responsible enough to keep his/her dog on a leash. As a dog owner, I make sure to keep mine on a leash because it's the responsible thing to do and it's safe for everyone involved, including the dog (plus my dogs never listen to me when we're outside but that's another story. ;-)) ) I hope your daughter is feeling better know.


At 3:52 pm, Blogger Amy Peas said...

So anyone got any bright ideas where to get these delights in Japan?! I think I might have to resort to making these for myself.

People like the man with the dog make me furious. Just because someone is a little different, regardless of the difference, does not mean that they deserve to be treated in a lesser manner. A little compassion and understanding is the only allowance necessary. I hope your daughter is one day able to enjoy the rambuctiousness of puppies.

At 3:06 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...


My Polish grandmother makes these. She ices them too. Whenever she makes them she likes to tell me the story of when i was young and licked off all the icing off a whole plate of them one time.

I'm so glad i still have my grandmother around. She spoils me with luscious cakes and goodies. Yum!

At 5:43 pm, Blogger neil said...

Hi reb, the first cooking course I ever took taught rum baba, old fashioned now but still delish. You are so right about the owner and dogs in general.

Hi paz, I bet that you could find some in your travels, a lot of Poles emmigrated to America. Your dogs sound like dogs everywhere, never listening.

Hi amy, I'm usually pretty good in food related matters, but you've got me there, looks like I'll have to do a post just for you! Most people I know with dogs are responsible, except for that man and the owners of the dog that's pooping just outside our front gate.

Hi jessica, you are lucky to have your babka around, she sounds wonderful! A whole plate full, wow, that was a lot of licking.

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