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March 19, 2018

Sugar Man Patisserie’s chocolate renaissance

After a brief hiatus, Adelaide baker, Alex Crawford (AKA Sugar Man), has moved on from macarons and turned his inventive approach to flavour toward a line of chocolate blocks.

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  • Story: Johnny von Einem

Alex Crawford, the Adelaide baker otherwise known as Sugar Man, quietly receded into hiatus for the first quarter of 2018.

In December last year he left the Hutt Street bakery he’d moved into only two years ago, and decided to take a break from the pastry wholesaling game, removing his revolving weekly macarons from a string of Adelaide cafés.


Sugar Man chocolate blocks are only available at FRED Eatery, 220 Mount Barker Road, Aldgate.

Establishing any small business consists of making several small gambles at crucial moments. Some bets are larger than others, and one of the most daunting is knowing exactly the right time to expand.

By the middle of 2016, Alex’s register of stockists had steadily increased to the point where it seemed like the right time to graduate to a space of his own. Unfortunately, it was not.

The additional cafés and eateries stocking his sweets increased Alex’s workload, but did not generate enough income to justify employing help. When the time came to renew his lease, it was an easy decision to let go of the tenancy.

“Wholesale was just not generating enough income for me,” Alex says.

“I needed more equipment. I was doing everything by hand… I had a mixer, I had an oven, but that was about it.

“It was my baby, it was my life while I was working there, but at the same time, I wasn’t seeing my partner, I wasn’t seeing my family… I was broken up about it, but I was relieved that I could catch up with my friends and see my family.

“I just needed to re-evaluate, figure out where I’m at, and have a bit of a break, because I was working about 60 or 70 hours a week.”

Alex’s passion has remained though, and in the intervening months he’s found a new outlet for his creative culinary energy – chocolate.

Available exclusively at FRED Eatery in Aldgate, Alex has released a line of The Sugar Man chocolate blocks, made from 41-per cent Ecuadorian milk chocolate, and as should be expected, the flavours are ambitious – starting with a Reece’s-inspired peanut butter block, and a timely adaptation of the humble hot cross bun.

“I really played around with ideas and experimenting, and then I came up with these recipes,” Alex says.

“It’s all fresh hot cross bun pieces; all the fresh fruit is Australian – everything’s from scratch. And all the spices that you [would] see in the hot cross bun are in the chocolate.

“The peanut butter one, that’s all South Australian ground, a friend of mine grinds them down for me, it’s a pinch of Murray River pink salt, and that’s all it is. When you bite into it, it’s just that luscious, really oily, fresh Australian peanut.

“[And] I’ve got two new ones that I’ve just finished off and I’m really happy with: a vanilla slice chocolate bar with house-made puff pastry that I’ve done with Pepe Saya butter from Victoria, Papua New Guinea vanilla bean, and it just tastes exactly like vanilla slice, really custardy, and the crunchiness of the pastry. [Also] a brownie dark chocolate bar… with house-made pieces of brownie inside, so you get a fudgy brownie each time you bite into the chocolate bar.”

Whether it’s Caramello Koala macarons or hot cross bun chocolate by the block, we’ll take whatever The Sugar Man is serving up.

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