Shepherd’s Artisan Bakehouse strive to represent good value to their customer base, who mainly live out West and in the Hills district. They see sourdough as more than just a hipster affectation – for them it’s something everyone should be able to afford to eat every week, because fermented foods are good for you! I’m in complete agreement, and sourdough has been our staple bread at home for the last fifteen years, stemming from the famous Infinity Sourdough Bakery in Kings Cross.
While Shepherd’s Crusty Italian Sourdough ($6) isn’t quite as sour as my favourite, it toasted wonderfully without making those rock-hard crusts that turn breakfast into a mouth workout. Their semi-sourdough Spelt Fruit Loaf ($7.00) proved another winner; avoiding the sugary sweetness of many other fruit loaves I’ve tried by adding a savoury sesame crust. Even the application of jam didn’t push it over the edge. However it’s the Organic Rye Vienna Loaf with Caraway Seeds ($5.50) that will win my business at their Carriageworks Farmers Market stall if I can't be bothered driving to Castle Hill. I tried it under pretty much everything from goats’ cheese and avocado, all the way to bacon and eggs. The caraway seeds are applied at a level that could be called overdone, but I loved their volatile flavour, especially against my favourite rye toast combination – silverside and sharp pickles.
If you have more of a sweet tooth than me, Shepherd’s croissants are the way to go. With tiny, diced apple pieces rolled through the pastry rather than dumped in the middle as a big lump, the Apple Walnut Croissant ($4.50) was an easy favourite, especially as the apple pieces retained some bite and acidity. Their Almond Croissant ($4) avoided the heavy marzipan flavours my partner hates; while ‘The Stach’ Pear Rhubarb Pistachio ($5) was pleasant, custardy and sweet.
A woman cannot live on bread alone, so if you visit Shepherd’s Artisan Bakehouse hungry, check out their pies. They’re folded into squares, which make them a bit less sloppy than your average meat pie, so they’re easier to eat on the run.
The Original Oz Beef ($5) is a chunky steak pie that’s a notch above the usual standard. For an interesting mince version, try the Scottish Shepherd’s Lamb ($5), which throws in some root vegetables for contrast.
Their Savoury Rolls ($3.50/each) aren’t going to unseat the masters at Bourke Street Bakery any time soon, but the Moroccan Lamb ($3.50) with pine nuts is tasty enough, especially when consumed in the proper Australian way (smothered with tomato sauce).
Shepherd’s Artisan Bakehouse
Level 1, Shop 209K, Castle Towers, 614 Castle Street, Castle Hill
Ph: (02) 9786 7697
Carriageworks Farmers Market
245 Wilson Street, Newtown
Ph: (02) 8571 9099