We lured Marie Robertson away from her garden, bees, pet dog and soon-to-open patisserie in the Crack building on Franklin Street to create something sweet for us on a Rymill Park public BBQ.
Recipe: Buttermilk griddle cakes with caramelised pear
Marie Robertson’s approach to food is simple – it revolves around local ingredients and things she can grow.
But as a young adult in the ’90s, Marie didn’t have much of an approach to food at all. It’s an industry she fell into through a desire to travel.
“I’d finished my first year of university and didn’t know what to do,” she says. “I wanted to travel so I took a year off to go overseas.”
Using kitchens as a flexible place to work while moving between countries, Marie never returned to university – but she did return to Adelaide. Even after travelling and cooking her way around London, Glasgow and New York, she was drawn back here by our abundance of great produce.
“I just loved all of the markets of Europe, they really inspired me,” she says. “So when I came back I took on an apprenticeship with Joe McCreanor, he was wonderful and is also a microbiologist so it was amazing to learn about cooking from his outlook.”
A hunger for education never left Marie, and she continues to expand her knowledge.
“Joe always fostered a great learning environment. I’ve been fortunate to work with many chefs who have always been generous with their time and willingness to teach,” says Marie. “Also I just take courses; I did a pastry course at Regency just recently.”
“I’ve always been in to making my own butter, fermenting and just doing lots of different things,” she continues, as she adds a liberal amount of butter to the caramel sauce taking shape on the hotplate.
“At home I keep my own bees and grow most of my own food. I love being able to then bring that all into the kitchen myself.”
It was through working a casual chef job at Whipped Café in Semaphore that Marie began to extend on her pastry skills, eventually ending up in a sweeter-than-expected world.
“I’ve always done a little pastry on the side and love making sourdough bread,” she says.
So when Kate Palmer (who – along with partner Joe – owns Whipped and The Loose Caboose) offered Marie a partnership at new project Crack, it wasn’t a hard decision.
Marie’s main role in Crack will be running the top-floor patisserie, while below her a roaster will occupy the second floor and Crack café takes up the ground floor. The café’s opening precedes the patisserie’s, but from the very beginning Marie has been churning out sourdough bread and pastries like croissants, tarts and some savoury items for Crack, Whipped and The Loose Caboose.
“I’m sure I’ll end up doing some shifts in the kitchen too,” she says with a laugh.
The caramel sauce is bubbling away in the distance as we set the table.
Checking up on the sauce, Marie explains her disinterest in food media: “I’ve never really had a chef that I idolised or drew inspiration from, I really just like to do my own thing,” and that attitude is reflected in her uncomplicated style.
As she completes the cooking, a simple, elegant dish appears. It’s balanced and refined. The bitterness from the caramel helps to soothe its sweetness and ties together a bite of fluffy griddle cake with soft poached pear. If this is a show of Marie’s finesse on a public BBQ, then we’re excited to see what she can achieve at the Crack patisserie.
For the caramalised pears you’ll need:
– 2 organic pears (peeled, cored & halved)
– Juice of ½ a lemon
– 150g butter
– 100g brown sugar
– 125g caster sugar
– 1 organic vanilla bean (halved lengthwise)
– 1 cinnamon quill
Take prepared pears and coat in lemon juice.
Place butter, brown sugar, caster sugar, vanilla pod and cinnamon in a pan on the BBQ hotplate. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add pears and cover with a sheet of baking paper. Leave to cook for 20mins or until tender.
Once cooked, remove pears and discard baking paper. Let the sauce simmer until syrupy in texture.
For the griddle cakes you’ll need:
– 3 free range eggs (yolk and white separated)
– 1 2/3 cups quality buttermilk
– 1tsp bicarb soda
– 2tsp baking powder
– 200g plain flour
– 1tbsp caster sugar
– Butter (for grilling)
– Crème fraiche (for garnish)
Whisk egg yolk and buttermilk to combine. In a separate bowl mix together dry ingredients. Sift dry ingredients in to egg yolk mix and stir to make a smooth batter, but don’t overwork. Beat eggwhites until light and fluffy and fold gently through the mixture. Set aside for 20mins until you see the batter start to ferment (there will be bubbles on top).
Melt butter on the hotplate…
…and ladle batter to preferred size. Flip when bubbles form and cook through.
Add pears back to the sauce to warm and serve over pancakes with a dollop of crème fraiche. *alternatively, prepare the batter and pears at home and use the BBQ to warm the pears in a pan while you cook the griddle cakes.