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Make winter a baker’s delight

Blueberry Almond Tart (Large)
Even home cooks who don’t like the cold weather would have to agree there’s an upside. It’s baking season and that means all manner of heartwarming fare coming out of the kitchen. 

The oven goes on without fear of working up a sweat and the smell of something delicious wafts through the house, bringing its own kind of warmth.

Whether you prefer sweet or savoury, baking is better with local ingredients. Here are some super staples for the pantry and fridge, and a few surprises, to get you in the mood for baking.

Flour power

Self-respecting cooks always have plenty of flour in their pantry and, no matter what the recipe calls for, there is no excuse for not making it local. Based in Byford, Millers Foods produce premium quality flour, including self-raising, single origin, wholemeal and organic, which they also supply to bakeries and patisseries. While Millers are a relative newcomer to WA, Anchor Foods has called Freo home for more than a century. Among its many pantry staples are the well-known Lion and Lighthouse flour ranges. Keep an eye out at your local supermarket or grocery store.

Better butter

Ah, butter. Remember when it was sidelined in favour of margarine? What were we thinking! An essential part of a baker’s repertoire, it needs to be good quality. We’re blessed with some wonderful producers in WA. Based in Jandakot, Devoted Artisan Butter produces a range of premium butters in the traditional way, including lemon myrtle, olive and Cornish salt.  The Butter People also favour time-honoured methods, making beautiful butter from 100 percent natural ingredients. Their cream comes from Bannister Downs Dairy and their salted butter is made with WA lake salt, so it’s local goodness all the way.

Perfect pastry

There’s something very satisfying about making pastry from scratch, particularly when you have premium flour and butter to work with. But when you don’t have the time, it’s good to know you can buy the best from locals who won’t settle for anything less. Based in the Perth Hills, Empire Pastry makes puff pastry and a range of shortcrusts (including chocolate) to die for.  Try this savoury goat’s cheese and red onion tart, for starters. (And if you really can’t be bothered baking, they also make a range of seasonal treats, such as apple turnovers.)

Fruitful flavours

Denmark Heritage Apples grow a fabulous range of apples in the Great Southern, including some harder-to-find varieties, while Newton Orchards have been cultivating apples and pears in the Southern Forests for more than 90 years. We’d never turn down a piece of fresh fruit, there’s more than one way to get some of the season’s bounty into your bellies. Apples are delicious baked. Try this easy apple tea cake or make it a little savoury with this spinach, spinach and parmesan pie.  Pears won’t be put in the shade, either. It’s tough to choose between this pretty pear cake, with the intoxicating scent of star anise, or a pear crumble so simple it can be whipped up in the microwave. Just be sure to top your choice with a dollop of local cream from The Cheeky Cow or yoghurt from Brownes Dairy.

Baking secrets

Want to add pizzazz to the proceedings? Great Southern Truffles know their way around the Western Australia’s black gold, creating tempting products that showcase the fabulous fungus. A jar of their Black Truffle Sauce, for example, will take the not-so-humble beef and mushroom pie to another level. Looking for a birthday surprise? This crowd-pleasing chocolate cake is big enough to feed more than a dozen sweet tooths. The secret ingredient? WA Potatoes. We don’t think your guests will guess, either, but they sure will enjoy eating it.

Happy baking, everyone!