Lamingtons. Caramel slice. Vanilla slice. Anzac biscuits. A perfect pavlova. It’s enough to make a homesick Australian’s mouth water.
And water it did, when Laura Epstein Forer, owner of Waltzing Matilda’s bakery in New York City, came by recently with a selection of her treats for us to sample. The Seattle, WA native, who spent some time studying in Australia, decided to return to the USA and recreate some of the Aussie desserts she enjoyed whilst there for her family and friends. The response was amazing, and she’s since decided to begin her own business baking and providing catering services with her classic Aussie sweet treats.
The beauty of Waltzing Matilda’s is that all the offerings include Laura’s own flair, reflecting her American heritage along with her love for Australian culture and food. Her (highly recommended) caramel slice, for instance, includes the addition of sea salt, which plays nicely with the sweet richness of the dish. Along with the Aussie classics, Waltzing Matilda’s lineup also includes a lighter coloured and more dense sticky date pudding, 100s and 1000s biscuits, afghan biscuits, neenish tarts, and Anzac biscuits that are perfectly soft and chewy. She also offers her own unique spin on some American classics: pumpkin pie, gingersnap cookies, chocolate hazelnut torte, apple & pear tarte tatin and a kale cake with sweet potato custard filling.
And how does she manage finding Australian ingredients? She admits that it’s difficult, and that it involves a combination of searching hard, improvisation and sheer luck. Unsweetened dessicated coconut, for instance, is available at Whole Foods and Fairway, and she’s constantly experimenting with coconut solids to mimic copha. Passionfruit is another difficulty – it’s very rare to find fresh, so sometimes she has to search for farms from which she can order large amounts.
And it’s that particular attention to detail that make Waltzing Matilda’s treats so tasty and authentic. The passionfruit icing on the vanilla slice, for instance, was my personal favourite, but the caramel slice and lamingtons were pretty much gone before anyone could turn around and get seconds. And definitely don’t think twice about the pavlova.
Waltzing Matilda’s has no official storefront, but orders can be picked up from 116th Street in New York and free delivery is available on orders over a certain amount. It’s also handy to note that if there’s a particular treat you’re hankering for (our conversation included chocolate crackles, for instance), you can call and ask if it can be made for you. For those with dietary requirements that don’t preclude you from sugar and deliciousness, you’re pretty much covered: there are a few treats that can be made vegan and some products are naturally gluten free. Catering for functions big or small is also available, but you should definitely call and arrange this as far in advance as possible.
As far as the future goes, we’re certainly happy that New York has a source of delicious, Australian treats. Laura’s goal is to make Australian desserts more common among New Yorkers, and like all of us, keep a little bit of Australia in her life.