The humble hot cross bun

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It seems as soon as all of the Christmas pud is cleared out, hot cross buns magically start appearing. ‘Tis the season for hot cross buns in every bakery, so we caught up with Gontran Cherrier from Gontran Cherrier Boulangerie and Brenton Lang of Rustica Bakery to chat hot cross buns, technique and what’s on offer this year.

The tradition of picking up hot cross buns around Easter is a common one, with their origins going back as far as the 12th century.

Although throughout his childhood, Gontran Cherrier celebrated Easter traditions leaning more on the influence of French baking. “Hot cross buns are not a typical French tradition, so in Easter in France we enjoy pastry, brioche, mini chocolates and chocolate rabbits,” Cherrier says.

In lieu of hot cross buns, each area in different parts of France have their brioche specialty. “In the North East of France in places such as Alsace and Lorraine, you can find a lemon brioche which is often baked around Easter time.”

Cherrier’s shopfront in Smith St has ‘Let Them Eat Croissants’ lit up in neon lighting, so you can’t forget how much the French (and the rest of the world) love their pastry.

Rustica’s Brenton Lang has fond memories of the lead up to Easter and always having hot cross buns around the house this time of year–but the tradition may have lost its lustre for Lang since getting into the business. “I’ve been baking since I was 16 so there’s been a lot of long and tedious Easters since then,” he laughs.

“Last year we made over 14,000 hot cross buns over the four-day Easter period. It’s a bit crazy and with the rest of our production still going, it’s a really big weekend.”

When it comes to technique, Lang says the process is comprehensive but the results are worth it. “To get the buns right it’s a fairly long process. We use our own spice mix with a few tweaks but it’s butter, flour, milk etcetera,” Lang says. “Our fruit is soaked in a pear juice so it’s really sweet and plump and allows the texture of the bun to be as soft and juicy as possible.”

Both Gontran Cherrier and Rustica Bakery have started baking hot cross buns daily.

Gontran says that although his boulangeries in France are happy to forego the bun, the Smith St Gontran Cherrier has the traditional bun available. “I also developed a special recipe this year with chocolate and hazelnut hot cross buns which are on offer,” Gontran tells us.

You can pick up hot cross buns from Gontran Cherrier, Rustica Canteen or Rustica Sourdough until Easter Monday.

Why not get involved and make your own hot cross buns? Check out Bec’s recipe.

Gontran Cherrier
140 Smith St, Collingwood
www.gontrancherrier.com.au

Rustica Sourdough
Rustica Canteen Richmond
166 Swan St, Richmond

Rustica Canteen CBD
33 Guildford Lane, Melbourne

Rustica Sourdough Bakery
402 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
rusticasourdough.com.au