If you are a Melbourne city dweller, you would surely know of the Royal Arcade that sits between Bourke Street, Elizabeth Street and Little Collins Street. What you might not know is that there is an amazing French patisserie hidden inside, if you don’t look closely you may just miss it!
What’s better is that this mini delight is now serving more than just French pastries, cakes and savouries. The queen of the croissant, Agathe Kerr, is now baking baguettes (the classic long, thin crusty loaf) and ficelles (the baguette’s longer, skinnier sibling) fresh daily and having them delivered to one of the city’s best-kept secrets.
The French mother-of-three trained as a pastry chef at the prestigious Ecole de Boulangerie et Pâtisserie de Paris before moving to Melbourne in 2013. Based in South Melbourne, Agathe’s traditional bread is baked and delivered carefully each morning. While she loves baking bread and experimenting with flavours, Agathe remains true to the traditional style of French baking to ensure her baked goods are authentic.
The new bakery range includes traditional baguettes (large $5), honey and sesame baguettes (large $6), parmesan and cheddar ficelle (small $4) and poppy seed ficelle (small $4). Chocolate chip milk-bread baguettes, similar to brioche, sell for between $4 and $6, while olive and garlic-flavoured baguettes will join the range soon.
“I have had such strong support already, the bread is selling like hotcakes, and I think people really appreciate that it is made by a local French chef using an authentic French recipe,” Ms Kerr said.
“Of course, it may also be that my bread goes so perfectly with steaming winter soups, such as onion soup, which is my personal favourite!”
Luckily, we have scored Agathe’s famous French onion soup recipe, the perfect accompaniment for some crispy, freshly made French bread.
Onion soup recipe
Ingredients- 4 thinly sliced onions. Use Spanish onions (purple onions) if you like a sweeter taste. or yellow onions if you prefer the more acidic taste (which is traditional in France) - 2 peeled and crushed garlic cloves - 50g butter and 2 table spoons of olive oil - 1l liquid stock (Agathe recommends all natural chicken stock) - 250 ml of dry white wine - 500 ml warm water - 1 tablespoon of flour - 6 slices of baguette (you can use a day-old baguette if you don't have a fresh one) - gruyere cheese or cheddar and parmesan (enough to top your baguette slices) - salt and pepper to taste Method
On a medium heat, melt the butter with the oil, then add onions and stir until soft. Next, stir in the garlic, flour, chicken stock, water and wine and bring to the boil. Stir to ensure no lumps. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Before serving, stir the soup. It should be very tasty. If you find it too weak, simmer for another 10 minutes while stirring, without the lid to allow the flavours to further infuse. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Top the baguette slices with cheese and place on a lined baking tray under a warm grill.
Be careful not to burn it! Serve the soup in large bowls paired with the cheesy baguette on top.
Eat while very hot. Enjoy!Agathe Patisserie Petite Royal Arcade Melbourne agathe.com.au
There are many other French bakeries around Melbourne’s suburbs, all you have to do is head out and find them. Here are a few which we feel will do justice to Agathe’s French onion soup recipe:Parisian Patisserie Boulangerie 19 Keilor Road, Essendon Moi by Fabrice Patisserie Fine Shop 1 259-279 Bay Street, Brighton moibyfabrice.com Choukette 318 Sydney Road, Brunswick choukette.com.au