Western Australia’s Great Southern region has even more to offer than stunning coastal views and lush green bushland—it also provides some of the country’s most unique flavours, which have worked their way into the hands of bakers and chocolatiers across the district.
Speckled with wineries and bound by the Wheatbelt on one side, the Great Southern region adjoins the Southern Ocean, with approximately 250 kilometres of coastline.
The towns of Denmark and Albany both lie on the coast, overlooking incredibly clear blue water. To the west is the Mount Frankland North National Park, as well as the Lake Muir State Forest, both home to Giant Tingle Trees, some of the tallest trees in Australia.
Whether you’re visiting for the jaw-dropping landscape or the vineyards, the bakeries of Albany and Denmark, which draw unique flavour profiles from the equally unique surrounds, are not to be missed.
If it’s house-milled, slow fermented, high hydrated, deep dark sourdough you’re looking for, you need to know about Bredco. Rhiannon Moon and Sam Dawson own Albany-based Bredco. They specialise in wild fermentation using native yeast and freshly milled wheat sourced from St. Alban’s farm in the WA Wheatbelt shire of Kondinin, which they mill in their own bakery in a small Italian mill.
Bredco is into fermentation: think kimchi, sauerkraut, turmeric kraut, beetroot kraut, apple cider vinegar, and sourdough bread as well as laminated pastries.
Rhiannon and Sam started out using a local restaurant’s oven while they worked other jobs full-time but have since made Bredco their sole focus.
Find Bredco at the Albany Farmer’s Market every Saturday and in cafes and supermarkets in Denmark and Mount Barker as well as restaurants in Albany.
Hemp seed sourdough; sprouted, smoked, biodynamic barley; lupin porridge loaf; and pumpkin, rye and caraway loaf are just some of Bredco’s masterpieces.
Our Pick: Lemon myrtle scrolls
John Wade is the man behind the handcrafted chocolate store Dark Side Chocolates, which you’ll find in the Denmark Visitors Centre. John crossed to the dark side of chocolaterie after making wine for 40 years, expertly transferring his skills and refined palate to the chocolate word. John has an interest in Australian native flavours and he handcrafts chocolates with flavours like roasted wattleseed, lemon myrtle, strawberry gum, rainforest pearl finger limes, native pepper and aniseed myrtle. “We are in an excellent position to create chocolates that express the terroir and regional tastes of the Australian bush,” says John. Dark Side Chocolates uses ethically sourced Swiss couverture with cacao beans coming from plantations in Venezuela, Ecuador, the Ivory Coast and Bolivia as well as fresh local ingredients from sources such as Bushfood Factory and Café and Marvick Native Farms. Fresh raspberry jelly sandwiched by a passionfruit white chocolate ganache and blood orange milk chocolate ganache (otherwise known as The Triple Decker) and kalamansi fruit (Japanese lime) blended with 36 per cent white chocolate and dipped in dark couverture (called Kalamansi Butter Caramels) are some of the flavours you’ll find at Dark Side Chocolates.
Our Pick: Aniseed Myrtle Caramels
About nine kilometres out of Denmark sits one of the town’s biggest tourist attractions: Denmark Chocolate. Pull into the rural setting and you’ll be greeted with a homestead complete with wide verandas and an inviting Chocolate Lounge, all surrounded by intricate gardens. It’s here that visitors come to sample fine chocolate, enjoying the experience of having a chocolatier pair their selection with an equally fine port, liqueur, aged muscat or unusual beer.
The chocolate display includes chocolate sauces, bars and gift items alongside the main attraction: handmade chocolates in flavours such as Sambucca Truffle and Cointreau Praline, Intense Passionfruit and Ruby Port Plum and Honey.
If you’re not in the mood for an alcoholic drink, Denmark Chocolate’s hot chocolate drinks have developed a cult following, with hot chocolate on the verandah a ritual enjoyed by locals and tourists alike.
Once you’re done sampling the products, head outside to the gardens where you can follow the Chocolate Time Line, a path through manicured gardens complete with panels detailing the history of chocolate from its origins in the Americas through to its European industrialisation.
Our Pick: Aged muscat paired with 70 percent intense dark chocolate
Stanley Date and the team at Royal Patisserie make everything from scratch. This is a bakery that still cracks the eggs, melts the butter, adds the cream and considers “pre-mix” a dirty word. Also specialising in breads, Royale Patisserie makes its large range of sourdoughs with a culture they’ve been keeping alive for 13 years.
To give you an idea of how good the bread is, the standard daily bread churned out every day at the bakery has won the Gourmet Bread category at the Perth Royal Show, and Royale Patisserie’s Turkish bread won its category at the show four years in a row.
The team makes white sourdough, organic wholemeal, organic rye, super-seed, fruit sour (which includes a bunch of different fruits including whole figs plus nuts) and, one of the most popular breads on the menu, the kalamatta loaf.
Staff at the patisserie agree that the most popular item on the racks is the Italian Biga, a 48-hour fermented dough containing malt and ryemeal that’s light and open on the inside with a light eggshell crust on the outside.
Also making cakes, gourmet sandwiches, burgers, pies, pasties, sausage rolls, biscuits and pastries, Royal Patisserie’s store is well worth a visit, or check out their stall at the Albany Farmer’s Market on a Saturday or at the Boatshed Markets on a Sunday. Their products are also available in restaurants around Albany and at the IGA in Denmark.
Our Pick: Italian Biga
Doralane Pastries celebrated its 51st birthday in July, after the bakery first opened its doors as Doralane Pastries in 1967. Owned and operated for the last 14 years by John and Jenny Durack, the Spencer Park bakery is known for its square pies, which have been in production from the start. Pies come in 18 varieties including the crowd-favourite Shepard’s Pie, Chunky Pie and Country Special.
The team also makes pastries, cakes, party snacks, slices, log cakes and fresh sandwiches, with caramel slice and vanilla slice enduring crowd favourites.
John says it’s their focus on fresh local produce that has kept them a strong and long-lasting pastry business in Albany.
Our Pick: Square Pie
Located in Fig Tree Square, the picturesque Denmark Bakery is a family owned and operated business with prize-winning pies aplenty. Sharon and Clete O’Brien, along with son Tristan, have a combined 70 years of industry experience, and founded the Denmark Bakery together in 2007.
In the 11 years since opening, the bakery has won over 300 awards at industry competitions. The O’Brien family are also big supporters of local produce, striving to use as many local and Australian-produced ingredients as possible. The baking team never skimps on quality, using only good quality refined vegetable shortening, instead of margarine.
Bakers Clete and Tristan have developed an exciting range of gourmet pies, which includes flavours such as Garden Vegetable Mornay. There is a full lunch menu on offer, with specialty deli-style sandwiches and a full salad bar. The Denmark Bakery is open from 7am seven days a week, with the option to enjoy your tasty treat on-site.
Our Pick: Sausage roll
Just west of the Valley of Giants Tree Top Walk, you’ll find Tingles Bakehouse, a seasonal bakery which opened in December 2015. Run by Australian chef Jack and his Estonian partner Hedi, Tingles Bakehouse—presumably named after the Tingle trees native to the area—is open from November to May each year. The duo use the other six months of the year to experiment with new products and recipes, as well as to tend to their garden, where a large portion of their ingredients are sourced. Also on offer are a range of jams and preserves made from locally sourced produce.
All packaging used by Tingles Bakehouse is biodegradable, allowing customers to take their treats with them as they continue on their adventures.
The bakery is known for its rotating selection of sweet cakes, slices and tarts, but also offers a hearty selection of gourmet pies and sausage rolls.
Our Pick: Estonian honey cake
An offshoot of Whitfield Estate winery, Pawprint Chocolate has a range of chocolates which showcases the unique flavours of Western Australia. The business is family owned, headed up by Kelly Howard, who began creating the range of sweets in 2010. The name Pawprint is derived from Kelly’s two beloved Bernese Mountain Dogs, Mac and Bud.
Located in the town of Denmark, Pawprint Chocolate is created using only sustainably sourced products. After the Pawprint production team tempers the base chocolate, wholefoods (think nuts and seeds) are added into the mix. Flavours include Cranberry and Apricot White Chocolate, as well as Chilli and Spice.
Pawprint Chocolate is available for purchase at a range of stores across Western Australia, as well as at the Pawprint Chocolate shop in Denmark, where it is made onsite. Fresh chocolate is available for sampling daily, making it a must-visit.