Canelés, cakes and confections – get your sweet fix at Grange’s Bella & Tortie
Have you ever encountered a dessert so beautiful you could barely bring yourself to eat it? Suzi Unwin is a culinary maestro that specialises in the very same kinds of picture-perfect treats. After stints at some of Brisbane’s best restaurants and sweet-treat dispensaries, the accomplished pastry chef has struck out on her own with Bella & Tortie, a bricks-and-mortar bakery hawking a range of cakes, tarts and snacks that are part mouth-watering treat, part eye-catching work of art.
After a period of time working for iconic Brisbane institutions Stokehouse Q, nodo, Dello Mano and Jocelyn’s Provisions, interior-designer-turned-pastry-chef Suzi Unwin decided to break out on her own. Armed with a mental compendium of recipes and a passion for obscure treats, Suzi began laying the groundwork for Bella & Tortie, her own baked-goods operation named after her rescue cats Isabelle and Tortimer. As is the case when starting any small business, Suzi chose to take small steps in the beginning, securing a space at Wandering Cooks in 2018 and working her way up to pop-up appearances at markets across Brisbane. During this period, Bella & Tortie became known for its range of canelés, a Bordeaux-born patisserie staple that boasts contrasting textures – a tender chewy centre and a thicker caramelised crust. Seeing that the treats were largely unheard of in Brisbane, Suzi decided to pioneer the art of canelé making, turning this obscure striated cylindrical wonder into a specialty. Before long, Suzi had cultivated a loyal following thanks to an expanding wholesale portfolio that included cafes such as Bunker Coffee, Told You So, Black Sheep Coffee and Salt. Coffee Roasters, but eventually Suzi decided to plant roots and expand upon her range of treats. Thus began the search for a kitchen and shopfront where Suzi could experiment freely, adding more technically intensive options to her repertoire.
After eight months of searching, Suzi found her ideal spot in the quiet suburb of Grange. A vacant tenancy next to Huskk Cafe offered the right amount of space for the necessary kitchen gear, while leaving room for a cosy front-of-house service area. While much of the revitalisation of the space was a DIY effort, Suzi recruited bespoke handcrafted furniture and decor manufacturer Victor & Wills to assist with the construction of Bella & Tortie’s main treats cabinet, product shelves and hat rack. With the fixtures in place, Suzi got back to baking, opening Bella & Tortie’s bricks-and-mortar location on Saturday November 23. In order to give proper attention to operating her own kitchen and store, Suzi has ceased her wholesale activities, which means if you are looking to satiate a canelé craving, the Grange bakery should be your first port of call. Bella & Tortie stocks upwards of eight kinds of canelé, with flavours ranging from the original vanilla bean and spiced rum to matcha and Valrhona dulcey, hazelnut praline, salted caramel and raspberry, and passionfruit. In addition to the canelés, Suzi also makes other intricate items such as spherical pavlova tarts, raspberry millefeuille, fruit-mince tarts, lime coconut cakes, savoury brioche feuilletée and small batches of seasonal additions. Bella & Tortie’s shelves stock other packaged goodies made on-site, as well as products from The Steepery, eco-friendly candles from Sésame and gift packs.
Bella & Tortie is now open from Friday to Sunday, with online orders (and large cakes) available to pick up between Wednesday and Sunday. For more information, head to the Stumble Guide.
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