Every now and then, an advert appears in my local paper. Bordered with a familiar maroon and green floral border and with the ubiquitous curled logo, it's headed with the most beautiful word known to foodies and tightwads alike: SECONDS.
The Miss Maud Bakehouse in Northbridge opens for three hours every Saturday morning to sell its less-than-perfect looking, but always-perfect tasting seconds. This little window of time is gold for people who want to stock up on cakes, muffins, sausage rolls, slice and breads, and who aren't too fussed about appearances.
A variety of slices and biscuits at low low prices
Let's be clear – this is not food you want to serve at a dinner party, unless you really dim the lights, or if you are hosting a low tea. The cakes are a bit squashed, the biscuits probably broken, the sausage rolls unevenly tanned. They're not perfect, which is why they are not in one of the 15 Miss Maud pastry houses dotted around Perth. But as we all know, beauty is only skin-deep, and the pure goodness of a person (and a cake) is well and truly on the inside.
That distinctive dark purple, Miss Maud is an institution
The shop itself is a bit like the food. Squashed between a wrecking yard and a series of high rise apartments, the Bakehouse Shop is accessed from the rear, up some ancient metal stairs. A security camera is trained on the door, which looks likes it belongs at the end of an alley, hiding all manner of dodgy dealings. But this is all a deception, because behind this door is paradise. If you don't mind open plastic crates, trestle tables and warehouse ambiance.
What is available each week changes, and is dependent probably on how clumsy the cooks are the night before. The morning I visited, the cake fridge was half full of foam trays, each bearing half a dozen or so slices of cakes - all different, éclairs, muffins, slices, cheesecakes –all manner of sweet goodness.
Assorted cake trays were between $5-7 but my eye was caught by two enormous, chocolately looking cakes at the bottom of the fridge. I nabbed one and lugged it across to the lady behind the (cash-only) register. 'Is this a chocolate mousse cake?' I asked. 'Mousse,' she replied nodding. 'Veeeery delicious'. Man, I was going to be so popular when I got home.
These cakes normally retail for $32.50, and while this cake was undecorated and slightly squashed around the edges, it was otherwise perfect. $10. Deal.
An entire section dedicated to slice off-cuts, biscuits, pastry goods and other assorted sweets. I even saw a tray of macarons that looked like they had been dropped. $3.50-$4.
A pile of fresh, moist muffins, five to a tray $4. Croissants $2.50.
Then there was the savoury section. Pies, sausage rolls, spinach and ricotta rolls, party pies – you name it. $7. They even sell the mince filling so you can make your own pies.
Muffins that normally sell for $3.50 each, here are five for $4
No matter how you look at it, this is good value. You are probably paying between 25% and 50% of the retail price, and sometimes it's difficult to tell why they are seconds (they're probably not seconds, just 'excess to requirements').