Photography: Nicholas Paas
Photography: Nicholas Paas

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Photography: Nicholas Paas
Photography: Nicholas Paas

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Photography: Nicholas Paas
Photography: Nicholas Paas

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Photography: Nicholas Paas
Photography: Nicholas Paas

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Flour Drum Newtown: Making of The Giant Cookie

5 March, 2020

In a free-for-all, high-stakes battle for bragging rights of the title of Flour Drum’s signature dish, the Bombe Alaska, Buttermilk Banoffee Pancakes, Red Velvet Lamingtons and Lamb Ragu Pappardelle have all proved worthy challenges, but ultimately trumped by the most unlikely of heroes, the Sydney culinary icon, the Giant Cookie.

“dishes that can offer an experience that’s nostalgic and familiar"

In January, TheCulinaryInsight told the story of the Trio behind the Sydney café, the Flour Drum (read here), Chris, Johnny and Victor. Johnny, as head chef and baker extraordinaire shapes the Flour Drum’s menu around the concept of “contemporary comfort food” with “homestyle ingredients and dishes that can offer an experience that’s nostalgic and familiar, but with

a modern twist”. The venues baked treats offer perhaps the most defining contribution to the Flour Drum’s charm.

Amongst Johnny’s fondest childhood memories was devouring a particular chocolate chip cookie his Mum baked and gifted to him. The attached nostalgia was reason enough for cookies to be an early-days feature amongst the Flour Drum’s baked-goods offerings. Victor describes the first generation Choc Chip Cookies saying, “The first batch of Choc chip cookies were tiny and for some reason they all came out in different sizes. We noticed that kids and customers were all veering for the biggest one”. Naturally, the next batch were baked to be larger and unsurprisingly, demand followed suit. And so, the cycle began, “Johnny became obsessed with making the biggest cookie”, but, the substantial challenge existed to balance a consistency which delivered a texture for taste, with the necessity for sturdiness “once they passed a certain size they began to fall apart easily when picked up”.  Johnny countered the challenge with increasing and characteristic fanaticism, and “months later, after many trials he finally found a way to create his first giant cookie”.

They bought them for their kids, but often came back for more because they ate them themselves

The first iteration of the Flour Drum Giant Cookie was the ‘Smartie Pants’, and sold out in less time then was needed to eat one. Victor recalls the youthful adoration painted on the faces of customers as they eyed them on the counter. “They bought them for their kids, but often came back for more because they ate them themselves” Future months saw Johnny roll out flavours Choc Chip and Double Espresso, Choc Malt. The OG ‘Smartie Pants’ was changed to M&Ms.

The baking of a cookie is not typically thought to be a complicated procedure, however, the sheer girth or the Flour Drum signature creates significant complexities. The current process extends the best part of three days. Day one sees the dough prepared. Day two the dough is portioned, weighed and rolled, in preparation for the third-day bake. The process is riddled with log jams and bottle necks as the cookies’ size demands much precious and limited oven space. A significant amount of the baking occurs afterhours, and the rest at ungodly hours of the morning – also known as ‘Johnny o’clock’. Despite the efficiency of the process being optimised over the course of the last two years, supply rarely satisfies the unrelenting demand, “We never seem to bake enough of them to meet the demand. It is by far our best seller for sweets.” Surprisingly, a sizeable portion of Giant Cookie sales occur after 8pm, as a dessert or takeaway treat to chase a plate of pasta or gnocchi, and an accompanying glass of wine.

The Flour Drum’s Giant Cookie is a signature befitting its creator. As an eatery, The Flour Drum is fed by, and refeeds the temperament of surrounding Newtown. Unconditionally welcoming and accepting without judgement. It seems only appropriate the signature is something which can be embraced and enjoyed by any person, who is willing to take a moment to be a little less serious and just enjoy something which is wholly good.

Flour Drum Newtown

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