Just as progressive dining experiences like Wills Domain amd Foragers are recommended parts of a tour of the South West, the town bakeries of regional WA are a charming slice of classic Australiana that simply cannot be ignored. Many seem to make wild claims of award winning greatness, and there can be heated debate about which bakery really makes the best pies. While Alissa and I have not written about any of these bakeries before, we have visited a number of them during our many visits through the South West. As you'd expect, some are justifiably praised while others are somewhat overrated. We had the worst, most burnt coffee at one bakery during this trip, and on an earlier holiday we found another seemed very much caught up in its success to the point that they even told us that no photography was allowed, as if their menu was such a major trade secret! Considering they advertise all the pies that won them awards all over the outside of their premises, this secrecy seemed utterly laughable.
One bakery that I do really enjoy visiting is the Kojonup Bakery, a quiet achiever on the Kojonup main strip on Albany Hwy. The bakery is simple and honest looking, having none of the flash of some of the other bakeries in the Great Southern, however their Pies and Sausage Rolls speak for themselves.
On this occasion, Alissa had a Cheese and Bacon Sausage Roll and a Vanilla Slice, while I had the pie on their menu I most crave - their Chilli Beef Pie. Sausage Rolls are a strange beast; very often the texture can be strangely foam-like and overly soft and pasty. The Cheese and Bacon Sausage Roll made at Kojonup are a lot better than most, having a firmer meatiness, with the deliciously savoury flavour from the bacon and cheese making it a very good example of this staple. Likewise, a lot of bakeries try to impress with large servings and while the Kojonup Bakery Vanilla Slice was indeed massive, its smooth, well made custard filling marked it as a Slice of both quantity and quality.
For me though, the Chilli Beef Pie is without a doubt the pie to order. Firstly its a good, well made Beef Pie with a nice pastry crust and flavoursome, meaty filling. What is most impressive however is the generous chunks of legitimately hot chilli throughout. I've had a lot of supposedly hot Chilli Pies in Perth and in regional WA, and I find that they are often so mild that they might as well have not bothered. Kojonup's Chilli Beef Pie on the other hand gets it right - its not unbearable Habanero-level hot, but its definitely hot enough to get you sweating. Impressively, it seems to be fairly popular, as I've found they're often sold out when I've popped in in the late afternoon.
The Verdict: Very Good
The good old Aussie country bakery is a must do when travelling through the South West, and Kojonup Bakery is one I can thoroughly recommend. Their Sausage Rolls are a cut above, the Vanilla Slices both large and good quality, and the Chilli Beef Pie is so good I actually crave it. With the bakery conveniently located for an early rest break on the way back to Perth or a late one on the way to Denmark or Albany, and none of the long queues of places like the Denmark or Mount Barker Bakeries, a visit to Kojonup Baker is a win in all respects.