This Friday 7th June we celebrate the birthday of Sir Redmond Barry, who the Redmond Barry Reading Room is so rightfully named after.
Showtime Event Group and State Library Victoria teamed together to make a cake found in a recipe of Redmond Barry’s own collection ‘The Venice Cake’. With a few adjustments to the ingredients (and some creative thinking), our Executive Chef Vasantha recreated this historic recipe in remembrance of a pivotal Australian.
Redmond Barry was an Irishman who immigrated to Australia in 1839, a lawyer who moved to Australia in search for greater opportunity. Upon his arrival in Sydney and some subsequent months, Barry made it south to Melbourne, with a mere few pounds to spare from his voyage. Only just surviving as a lawyer in Melbourne, barely paying his rent by taking any manner of legal work he could find. Up until Port Phillip became the first colony of Victoria in 1881 where he was selected as the first Solicitor-General.
Not wasting his time, the following year Redmond was appointed to the position of judge at the newly formed Supreme Court of Victoria. As the first judge of Victoria, Redmond Barry aimed to serve the people in both his personal and professional life.
A strong and unwavering support of Indigenous Australians was one of his great passions during his life, which at the time was met with much distain from the early settlers of Australia. Often providing his services in court to aid those who could not pay for his own.
Regarded as a magnanimous man, he was actively involved in bringing knowledge to the people of Victoria. He invested his time and energy in dozens of Melbourne’s clubs and social circles, from the Philosophical Institute and the Philharmonic Society to the Polo Club. His keen passion to spread knowledge was so great that Redmond even allowed members of the public to come to his residence at night to read before the existence of a public library. The creation of which would not have been possible without his support.
A list of achievements runs long when looking at a life like Redmond Barry’s, a prime founder of the University of Melbourne, a proponent for a fair and just legal system and an advocate for the people. It’s with these great gestures that Redmond Barry spent his life working for the benefit of others and is why the State of Victoria is what it is today.
From the State Library archives was pulled a recipe over 200 years old from Redmond’s own collection; a list of ingredients including sugar, flour and eggs sounded simple. Yet as Chef Vasantha explained, the process for the cake was slightly more difficult. Having to carefully stiffen the egg yolks and whites separately in order for the cake to rise properly, while also maintaining an even medium temperature as to cook through consistently.
Once cooked the tiers were place upon one another and carefully iced in what was described as particularly dense dessert.
The cake was enjoyed by a team from the Library and proudly presented on the top level of the domed galleries, overlooking a great achievement made possible by the man of honor.
Happy Birthday Sir Redmond Barry.