After taking January off, Sugar Man is reopening this Friday with a brand new chocolate room and month-long croissant specials.
The Sugar Man is back
“Can you just give me 10 seconds?” Sugar Man owner Alex Crawford asks, as he’s been distracted from our conversation before we’ve even begun.
The noise of rattling from the chocolate tempering machine makes it nearly impossible to hear each other in any case.
“We’ve got to vibrate [the chocolate] now before it sets so it can expel all the air bubbles,” Alex shouts apologetically over the noise, as chef Tamika tempers almond croissant chocolate behind us through their new machine.
The chocolate room is Sugar Mans’s latest iteration of the patisserie located on Hutt Street since opening in 2022. They were closed the month of January to bring it to life and will be reopening tomorrow.
Although they’ve made chocolate since 2018, Alex wanted to create a chocolate room to make their processes more efficient. He says this inclusion means the team can make more, have a larger variety and can “actually go home at a convenient time rather than 1am and get only two hours sleep”.
“So we’ve got our chocolate fridge; it’s a specialty chocolate fridge, so it’s low in humidity. It’s not like a fridge where you stick your hand in and there’s moisture – moisture and chocolate don’t jam. That’s why I say never put chocolate in the fridge. If you do, wrap it in an airtight container,” Alex says.
“This is our tempering [machine], so where we use all our French chocolate Verona and we dump it in.
“Normally you would spin it and there would be chocolate coming out and that’s how you can temper it and fluctuate the temperature based on what chocolate you use.”
Alex discusses the details of making his chocolate and says he hasn’t found anyone in Adelaide making croissant chocolate like Sugar Man.
“So we pretty much just cut [croissants] up into pieces and then we caramelise them down for about five hours at about 100, 110 degrees,” Alex says while CityMag salivates.
“What you get is this really crunchy texture and then we just cut them to pieces and put them through gorgeous chocolate bars and dark chocolate.”
Alex says meticulousness is part of being a pastry chef.
“It’s one of those things – you have to get your folds correct,” Alex says. “I’m not going to say I am the only one, every baker has to be precise.
“You have to measure with a ruler, you have to know the length, you have to notice your folds, your ratios and your recipes.”
Alex explains that folds create the layers of pastries, and that “the more folds you do, the messier [it will be and] dilute the actual lamination”. But with more folds, “you will get this amazing puff”.
“It is really a tough one to get right and it’s taken me easily – like, I’m still learning – but easily six years to get it right,” Alex says.
The fermentation process is what’s so time-consuming about creating pastries, and what the Sugar Man team will get up to when they’re closed during the week.
“In terms of the fermentation, it’s a two-day fermentation and then we start rolling, so it’s almost three days,” Alex says.
“To me, the fermentation is the most important. It’s what gives it flavour, it’s what makes it puff, it’s what gives it rise, the lamination, the texture.”
This Friday, Sugar Man will showcase three new croissants: pistachio and mortadella with provolone, cinnamon doughnut scroll which is “like that old canteen favourite” and a passion fruit curd with mango compote, inspired by Sugar Man’s collaboration with Adriano Zumbo.
The two returning favourites are the classic almond croissant but with a new look, and the Basque cheesecake croissant tart, which is a collaboration with Steven ter Horst.
With a new iteration of the business comes some changes to how it works. Instead of creating weekly specials, Alex will make croissants monthly to accommodate more customers wanting to get a taste.
Alex has been in the pastry business since 2014 and jumped into a commercial kitchen later in his career. Then he finally opened Sugar Man in 2022, after taking a break from baking altogether as he temporarily lost his love for it.
Throughout every stage of the business, Sugar Man has always maintained a love of quality ingredients.
“We just wanted to bring a little bit of Paris with a hint of Australian nostalgia,” Alex says.
“We are lucky to be in such a beautiful state where on our doorstep [we can] just grab as much cool stuff as we can.
“I just wanted to really bring in all the food that we produce in South Australia and champion as much as we can.”
Sugar Man is open from Friday to Sunday for takeaway pastries at 197 Hutt Street, Adelaide from 10am until 2pm or until stock lasts.
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