It was 10:30am on Friday morning and we had already driven an hour from home, heading towards the Grampians. By the time we got to Ballarat, we were starving because we didn’t have any breakfast, and the first place we saw was as good as any – the Beechworth Bakery!
Now, you may be thinking, “Beechworth isn’t anywhere near Ballarat!”, and you would be correct, but it seems that this bakery has spread itself all over rural Victoria and can be found in other towns like Healesville, Bendigo, Albury and Echuca.
Ok, so what makes this bakery so special? It has become one of the highest earning single bakery retailers in Australian history, and is the winner of National & State Marketing & Business Awards… and it all started with one man – Tom O’Toole.
Tom bought a small, crapshack of a bakery in Beechworth and turned it into an empire. His business model is being emulated around the world aaaaaaaand, if you go to the Beechworth Bakery website, you can purchase his motivational courses on business success, the complete course on how to make Bread, as well as the Beechworth Bakery cookbook. He has been described as ‘John Cleese on speed’! I think this picture sums him up nicely.
Anyway, desperation set in so we parked the car in the first available space and marched over to this gorgeous 1850s building that the bakery inhabited. It was nice and clean inside, with hardwood floors and heaps of seating. I ordered a Ned Kelly Pie with beef, bacon, cheese and egg with a bottomless cup of tea which I could refill at the tea station as many times as I liked. Earl Grey… here I come.
The pie itself was just what the doctor ordered. I didn’t take a picture because I was too busy eating it but it was a gravy beef pie with the egg, bacon and cheese grilled on top to form a lid, kinda like the potato on a shepherds pie. If the beef bit had more beef flavour and less gravy flavour, it would have been the ultimate pie, but it was still delicious nonetheless.
After pie came sweets, and because the bakery was celebrating Stress Down Day (an initiative supported by Lifeline), all their Vanilla Slices had blue icing on the top. I purchased one to support the cause and it was very satisfactory. The creamy custard was firm but not stale and hard, and the icing was super sweet. I guess the bakery would be pumping these babies out all day so it would be unlikely that anyone would receive an old, manky slice.
The atmosphere in this bakery is electric. It seems the staff love working here, and the space is so open and welcoming. Their produce is excellent and the bakery takes part in any community activities and takes pride in being environmentally green. I endorse this bakery 100%.