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Stir Crazy Culinary Creations

Home > Melbourne > Baking | Shopping
by Fiona Anderson (subscribe)
A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published July 19th 2017
You'll go crazy for these delicious, preservative free goods
I've noticed Stir Crazy Kitchen just around the corner from where I live and wondered, is it a cafe? Is it a cheese shop? Is it a catering business? - because it is not entirely clear from the outside. So I set out on a mission to find out, and met up with business owner Helen Kline.

Stir Crazy has been at its current location, at 267 Auburn Road, Hawthorn, for about nine months. Helen had previously been running the business from home for around three years, and decided it was time to separate work from home. The current venue became available perhaps more quickly than Helen had expected, requiring some quick decisions about how to shape the business to suit the location.

"Originally I opened here with a cafe", says Helen. "We had an espresso machine - it was a way to encourage customers to come in and see what we have".

Stir Crazy Kitchen, Hawthorn
Helen Kline - the 'Stir Crazy Lady'

Helen ultimately decided trying to combine a cafe and her business wasn't ideal. "It was confusing for the customers", she said. So while she still sells one 'soup of the day' and one 'fancy jaffle of the day' (which changes on a daily basis), the espresso machine has gone, allowing a clearer business focus.

Stir Crazy Kitchen, Hawthorn
The focus is on small batch, handcrafted goods

So what is the focus of her business? She describes it as being about "small batch, handmade quality produce, specialising in crackers, oatcakes and a range of citrus cordials".

Every Stir Crazy branded product on sale has been hand made by Helen. When you realise there is an extensive range of crackers and shortbreads, including sweet, savoury and gluten free biscuits, as well as cordials, and that they contain no preservatives - meaning short shelf lives - you have to conclude that Helen must be some sort of human machine to keep up with the demand!

"I bake to a traditional recipe that came from my Nan", says Helen. "All my shortbreads are made using pork fat (lard), in the same way my grandmother made them".

Stir Crazy Kitchen, Hawthorn
A selection of the Stir Crazy product range

Helen also stocks a limited range of delicious accompaniments to her biscuits, including locally produced cheeses and pÔtÚs.

As well as selling products from the Hawthorn shop, Helen sells at two other stores - in Box Hill and Fitzroy North - and at markets and directly to business, with roughly one-third of her sales coming from each. She's gone through the process of having her products accredited for the Farmers' Markets - meaning at least 90% of the ingredients in her products are locally sourced.

Stir Crazy Kitchen, Hawthorn
There is a soup of the day and a fancy jaffle of the day on offer

Her best sellers include the rosemary semolina flatbreads ('crushed fresh rosemary baked into our signature Mt Zero olive oil and semolina dough'); the golden flaxseed crackers (gluten free) ('toasted almond, flax and sesame cracker bound with Mt Zero olive oil, tamari, rice flour and smoked chilli salt'); and the blood orange and lime cordial (try it with soda water, or with a sparkling wine).

Perhaps the most unusual looking product, though, is the charcoal square. Developed by Helen in response to a request from caterers for a dark base for their gourmet toppings, the charcoal squares are almost black in colour - perfect for a vibrant topping like a beetroot salsa with goat curd.

I like to ask business owners how they measure success. For Helen, it's not about the money. "I love what I do. I love the contact with people and the tactile making of things. I get great satisfaction from getting good feedback from customers and repeat business."

Stir Crazy Kitchen, Hawthorn
Call into Stir Crazy in Auburn Road, Hawthorn, or find Helen's products at the Farmers' Markets

So do take the time to check out the Stir Crazy product range, and make sure you say hi to Helen next time you're at one of the Farmers' Markets.

Click here to see where you can buy Stir Crazy products, or give Helen a call on (03) 9882 1315.

Image attribution

The images in this article were taken by the writer. They are not to be reproduced in any form without the express permission of Weekend Notes.
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Why? Culinary creations handcrafted with love
When: 7.00am - 4.00pm, Monday to Friday
Phone: (03) 9882 1315
Where: 267 Auburn Road, Hawthorn (products also available from Farmers Markets)
Cost: Crackers around $11, Oatcakes/Shortcakes around $11.50, Cordials around $14
Your Comment
Applauds to Helen's wonderful culinary efforts :)
by Diana (score: 2|641) 511 days ago
Foodi Photoh Classie
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