On a visit to the Beaver Galleries in February the chef at onsite theKitchen cafe walked past me with a large bowl. He went into the inner courtyard and started picking bunches of grapes so I followed. The sultana grapes were to be dried to use in salads and, pre-Easter, in hot cross buns.
Susie Beaver said the impressive grapevines were planted by Betty Beaver in the mid 1980s and she said they were sultana variety.
Chef David Lockwood said the vines produce brilliant fruit and the crop this year was much better compared to 2019. He makes the sultanas by washing the fruit after picking then taking the grapes off the stem and laying them out on a tray, covered with a tea towel and left to sit under full sun for about three to five days, depending on the size of the grapes. They have to change colour from green to deep purple with a shrivelled appearance.
Lockwood started his apprenticeship at the National Press Club of Australia. Since being qualified, the bulk of his training was done at Courgette restaurant, Waters Edge and Sage.
In theKitchen cafe at Beaver Galleries, all the crockery is different and has been sourced from various places. All the plates are handmade by artists from the gallery, teapots are predominantly from Japan with some from England and T2. His service utensils are mostly silver plated cutlery from op shops in order to reuse old goods.
Lockwood's background in cooking stems from his father's influence. He says he was, and is still, a brilliant Chinese chef with 25 years of experience in traditional cookery and he has a vast knowledge of horticulture. Dishes at theKitchen come from things Lockwood would like to be served when he dines out, something unusual, different with a bit of flair. Most of the suppliers to theKitchen are from regional NSW and they include Ingelara organic farm and Wagga Riverina Free Range Berkshire Pork.
His family has always been into home grown produce where they can fully control what goes into the soil and how it is grown. Everything is seasonal and freshly picked from the garden for each meal they eat and Lockwood says it is an amazing feeling. All the fruit, vegetables and herbs are organic and natural with no chemicals used. He says the difference in flavour, quality and shelf life of organic home grown produce is incomparable to anything you can buy from the supermarket.
During a return visit to Beaver Galleries to see the flower paintings of Lucy Culliton, I was delighted with the coincidence that Lockwood had just baked his first batch of hot cross buns. His recipe, using the Beaver sultanas, follows.
Unfortunately theKitchen is closed due to the compulsory shut down but will reopen as soon as limitation is eased. David Lockwood has just started dinner events called chef's table. There is more information if you follow them on social media. For Facebook TheKitchen at beaver galleries and for Instagram TheKitchen@beaver galleries.
Hot cross buns
500g strong bakers flour
60g butter, softened
2 tsp mixed spice
30g fresh yeast
100g caster sugar
250ml lukewarm milk
Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Mix the dry ingredients together and immediately add the milk and egg. Once the mix has come together, add the softened butter. Knead the mix until you achieve the "window effect"*. Place the dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to double in size. When doubled, knock the dough back, remove from the bowl and knead in the sultanas. Shape into 16 equal sized buns. Place these close together on a baking tray covered in baking paper. Cover loosely with a towel and place in a warm spot to rise. When risen, egg wash the buns and pipe the crosses on top (made from a plain flour paste). Bake in a 180C oven until golden brown (approx. 20 minutes).
* I googled the "window-pane effect" - it means you can stretch a small piece of the dough without it breaking (to a thin translucent membrane) so the gluten is well developed.