Ask almost any Wellingtonian where to get the best cheese scones and they're sure to have a strong opinion.
Many will point to Pravda Cafe, specifically pastry chef Dom Mackie's golden cheesy offerings.
They are so popular that a series of workshops teaching the public his scone secrets during last year's Wellington on a Plate was sold out - so he's offering the workshops again.
Capital Day got a sneak peek at the master at work - and found he has adapted the method to suit his busy schedule.
The key, unsurprisingly, is cheese and lots of it.
"If you get a scone and it's not cheesy enough, they're doughy, bland and taste like damper."
His recipe has two parts self-raising flour to one part tasty cheese, with an extra sprinkling on top to create a crispy crust.
Mackie got his love of baking from being in the kitchen with his mother and grandmother, who taught him and his sister the basics.
Later, he studied to become a chef at the now-defunct Central Institute of Technology in Upper Hutt.
He spent years working as a chef, including at Pravda and Shed 5, as well as a stint helping out at his friend's Buttercup Bakery in Upper Hutt.
Mackie says he would help make the scones at Pravda on Saturdays and started tweaking the recipe.
Soon customers were requesting his scones, and he became pastry chef about 18 months ago.
These days he makes between 45 and 60 cheese scones a day - and these are often sold out before 9am.
And aside from extra cheese, what makes his so special?
"When the other guys make them, the customers know when I haven't made them. Maybe I'm a little bit lighter with my hands."
Rather than the traditional method of cutting cold butter into the flour, he uses melted butter and mixes the dough lightly until just combined. "I'm probably going against what other bakers and chefs usually do."
Using wet hands, he shapes it into tennis ball-sized scones to ensure the mix is not overworked.
Mackie says there is a nostalgia element when eating a cheese scone.
"Maybe it's memories from being kids. Scones are a classic baking product in New Zealand. The English do them too, but Kiwis do them better."
Dom's Cheese Scones workshops are at Pravda at 7am on August 19, 20, 22 and 23. Tickets $20. From midday today, Visa holders have the opportunity to pre-purchase tickets to Wellington On a Plate events. General release will happen at midday on Wednesday. Head to wellingtononaplate.com to check out the events on offer and buy tickets.
- The Dominion Post