In the midst of lockdown, I finally closed the book on 4 years of medical school with a brutal slew of 5 exams over 5 days. Normally this would be a cause to celebrate with several fancy meals with several of my favourite people, but that was unfortunately unable to happen for obvious reasons. But you know what? Things weren’t actually all that bad. In addition to a whole bunch of self-indulgent online shopping, I was also sent piles of goodies from my nearest and dearest, including the All Star Tasting Box ($55) from my family, consisting of the 6 best-selling cakes from the famous Black Star Pastry. They sure know the way to my heart.
Black Star Pastry needs no introduction (#watermeloncake – need I say more?), yet despite living in Sydney for the best part of 4 years and wanting to go since before I moved up from Melbourne, I still somehow never managed to get around to visiting. But now, all of that is about to be set right.
Trying the Strawberry Watermelon Cake first was a no-brainer, and I am pleased to say that it lived up to all the hype, and then some. It was the most delicious fruity-floral delight, layered with thick rose-scented cream, ripe strawberries, buttery almond dacquoise, and the iconic slice of watermelon that gave each bite a refreshingly light, summery twist. In fact, it went down so easily that I found the whole slice being polished off within minutes, despite promising myself half now (I had just had lunch when the delivery arrived) and half after dinner.
The Dragon Cake was just as pretty as its famous watermelon counterpart, but flavour-wise, it was definitely less exciting. Despite the exotic ingredient list – dragonfruit, pineapple, pomegranate – this actually tasted largely like a fruit and vanilla sponge. Not that I have any problem with that, as I think a good sponge cake is grossly underrated, and this one just so happens to come with a winner of a biscuit base that was the perfect midway between crunchy and crumbly.
If you’re like me, you’d assume the Chocolate Mirage is the most boring cake of the lot. But although it may seem a little less creative than the other offerings, the execution was faultless. The confection of chocolate-on-chocolate was augmented by the additions of salted caramel and hazelnut, and there was just enough bitterness from the high-quality cocoa to prevent it being too cloying. I enjoyed this much more than I had expected, proving that sometimes a well-made classic is all you really need.
After the watermelon cake, the Raspberry Lychee Cake was the one I was most eager to try. And this was decidedly whimsical; the vanilla cream studded with pink marshmallows gave the fruity cake a distinctly floral edge, but the base of dark chocolate biscuit ensured that each bite wasn’t too saccharine.
I’m a huge fan of pistachio desserts, so it was no surprise that I really enjoyed the Pistachio Lemon Zen. The pistachio dacquoise and ganache were delightfully nutty, whilst the layers of lemon curd had just the right amount of tang to bring out the creaminess of the white chocolate mousse. Plus, look how pretty the layers are!
The final cake left to try (what, already??) was the Japanese Forest Cake. Firstly, can we talk about just how visually stunning this is? The cake honestly looks just like a little moss-covered sculpture that I’d expect to come across whilst wandering around a shrine deep in the forest. Flavour-wise, this was actually rather unexpected. Despite the Hojicha sponge and matcha moss, this was actually nothing even remotely close to the usual tea-flavoured confection you might expect. Instead, I was treated to the delicately fruity aroma of pickled plum, augmented with the crispness of umeshu (Japanese plum wine) which infused the cream. Once the surprise wore off, I was actually really impressed with how well the cake managed to capture the sweet-yet-tangy balance of the pickled plums without overpowering the cake, or vice versa.
For those of you who might have hoped otherwise, I can confirm that it is remarkably easy to get used to a life where you eat two pieces of cake a day, and the day my haul was emptied was a sad one indeed. I was delighted to discover that although some of the cakes in the tasting box were more noteworthy than the others (the watermelon cake was the unsurprising winner), none of them were a gimmick designed purely to net social media cred – one of my biggest pet peeves of modern dining. If you’re like me and have been putting off trying the watermelon cake, get on it – the hype is real.
Rating: 14.5/20 – watermelon sensation.
This rating reflects my personal experience at the time of visit.