11 March 2021

Hot in the City: Canberra’s biggest Hot Cross Buns at family-run Danny’s Bakery

| Sophia Brady
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Danny Collins

Danny Collins started as an apprentice baker over 55 years ago. Photos: Supplied.

Autumn is officially here, bringing with it fresh foggy mornings, the illuminating Enlighten Festival, and the wafting spiced smell of fresh hot cross buns coming out en masse from the city’s best bakeries.

My search for this seasonal treat had me hop into Danny’s Bakery at Narrabundah shops. There I discovered Canberra’s biggest, best value hot cross buns and the family who has been baking them since 1988.

Hot cross buns

Canberra’s biggest, best value hot cross buns at Danny’s Bakery.

The bakery’s namesake, Danny Collins, started as an apprentice baker over 55 years ago in Batemans Bay, where he learned to make hand-moulded timed sourdoughs, using traditional baking methods. After moving to Canberra, he honed his craft and business skills in various bakeries before opening the city’s first sourdough bakery with his wife.

In the midst of building a life together, the young family built a beloved Canberra institution and close-knit community, with the family’s matriarch, Anne Collins, at its heart. When she died last year, daughter Katie said they did not know if they could continue running the business without her.

“My mother Anne was a beloved eccentric figure known for looking glamourous, giving her customers hours of advice over the counter, and frequently shopping in Vinnies around the corner. She was also known for a bit of snark, but those who knew her loved her for it!” said Katie Collins.

“She knew everybody and all their stories and personally helped a number of people. She would often give people and kids free pies, sausage rolls, and bread when she knew they had it tough and had a ‘pensioners discount’ for her favourite older patrons. That is why when we held her funeral last year in Narrabundah, there was a huge community turnout. People still chat with us every day about her. ”

Justin Collins

Grandson Justin Collins is carrying on the family tradition taking on the role of head baker.

After Anne’s death, the Collins family ultimately decided to continue their parents’ proud heritage and keep the business going.

At 72 years of age, Danny still comes in every day and is now joined by his two sons and grandsons, ensuring the kitchen and wholesale business thrives. Katie has taken charge of the shopfront with plans underway to refresh the humble bakery and activate its digital presence.

The bakery still uses the same labour-intensive old-fashioned tried and tested sourdough methods Danny learned as an apprentice.

“Sourdough is a tough gig because if you are doing it the way you are supposed to, it’s all timed doughs to allow proper fermentation. So, because of this, yes, we’re a bakery that can and does run out of bread! Danny can’t just go whip up more if there is no dough ready,” Katie says.

“The dough is all handled by hand only; no machinery is used to roll or cut. Rolls and loaves are all hand cut, weighed and rolled.”

One of the specialties of the house is hot cross buns. The sourdough buns are dense, perfectly spiced, and laced with a bountiful amount of fruit. Available dusted with icing sugar or plain, they are generously portioned with a six-pack weighing between 1.3 to 1.5 kilograms with a price tag of $9.50, making them Canberra’s biggest hot cross buns.

Katie Collins

Katie Collins with a fresh supply of the prized hot cross buns.

“We haven’t raised our prices on our Easter buns for years because we believe they should be affordable during such a brief season,” Katie explains.

Follow Danny’s Bakery Facebook page to find out when the hot cross buns have been freshly baked so you can pick them up from Katie Collins while they are still warm.

Danny’s Bakery is located at 6 Iluka Street, Narrabundah, and is open Monday to Saturday from 5:00 am. Follow their Facebook page to find out when the hot cross buns have been freshly baked so you can pick them up still warm.

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Stopped in and got my buns today – they were worth the drive! But I Wish I could get them on my side of town! Kids loved them as I did over 20 years ago – such memories!

Katie Humphrys5:40 pm 02 Mar 21

Buttercup, you weren’t there this morning, or ever. I can telly by your comments, and the fact that I was there this morning. Also if you’d actually read the article and actually lived there, you know the article never said the bakery had been there over 50 years and you know that wasn’t true. You must lead a very sad life; or be a bitter competitor. And it shows.

Mandy Pittman1:32 pm 02 Mar 21

Absolutely love Danny’s bakery, everything is so yummy especially the hot cross buns but everything tastes wonderful and the portion sizes are HUGE!

I grew up listening to my mum chin wagging to Anne for ages and eating their custard tarts and vanilla slices! Us kids called her ‘Auntie’. I’m so sad to see here she has died! I still get the bread tho grown with my own family now, from Casey Supabarn. Even their plain old sandwich bread (what I grew up on at school!) is a hundred times better than tip top. Good on you danny

I grew up in Narrabundah, Danny’s bakery has been there as long as I can remember and our family have been enjoying the delicious breads and treats for just as long. I don’t live there anymore, but I make sure to return every Easter to grab a few bags of those amazing hot cross buns and continue to tradition. They are the best hot cross buns in Canberra hands down.

sebastiancampbell6:21 pm 01 Mar 21

I think that the traditional atmosphere and service in Danny’s is fantastic. It is something that is sadly lacking in the franchised plastic bakeries that have sprung up around the place.
Their sourdough products are to die for, the hot cross buns in particular: they are what other bakeries aim for but usually miss.

I agree. It’s an old fashioned bakery and the fact it’s totally family run is fantastic. They are few and far between now days and it’s great to support local business (even if it’s miles away!) worth it for those buns for our family might need another freezer!

Long term resident of Narrabundah here. Have visited this bakery about half a dozen times, and have always wondered how they can operate, given it looks like it hasn’t been upgraded or refurbished in over fifty years. Nonetheless, I’ve tried to support by buying the occasional bread or cream bun. Bought a pie and sausage roll just last month, and the chunky pie was not even close to be chunky as advertised, and it tasted just horrible. Mushy, gluggy, yuk festival of grossness. The sausage roll could easily be the worst sausage roll I’ve tasted. Flavourwise, I couldn’t begin to describe the after-taste, not to mention the poor quality of the meat and awful texture. The customer service is not the best. They just go through the motions. I was super nice but barely got a smile let alone a thank you. I’ve tried to support this local bakery. Maybe they need to get some new tiles and rebuild from scratch. Fifty five years doesn’t always translate to quality. This is a perfect example. And no, I’m not Buttercup bakery. Coincidence.

Katie Humphrys5:02 pm 01 Mar 21

You sound nice. Drop in and introduce yourself one day! If it was as bad as you describe funny how it’s still going; must be a weird lucky coincidence. you haven’t been by lately as a resident or you’d see the renovations and paintwork. Have a great day take care and try to be happy ?

Trish Gotovac5:41 pm 01 Mar 21

What a horrible thoughtless comment. This is the livelihood of a whole family who’ve watched their mother slowly die over three years. I suppose furnishing the place to accommodate your refined tastes was not at the top of their minds. Given she recently passed, they might be sad and unhappy and not predisposed to chit chat with you. And no I’m not related to them – I don’t even live in Canberra. Maybe they can’t afford a refurb? We bought a loaf of sourdough and pies passing through Canberra and they were outstanding. I was served by the wife – who was obviously unwell, but happy and chatty. Please think twice before you destroy someone’s business and cause them anguish. A quiet word perhaps to the owner would probably have been more helpful. Be kind d – it’s not hard.

Katie Humphrys7:02 pm 01 Mar 21

Thankyou so much. That person is hiding their identity to comment for a reason. Not a local at all I’d wager have a great day

It’s not always been bad. At one point the prenises were considered updated and fresh, but fifty years is a long time. Walked past this morning. No difference. Still old and run down.

My experiences. My opinion.

Many decades local, countless years in Narrabundah. I speak from local knowledge and my own personal experiences. Care to share a pie one day? I’ll stick to coffee but happy to watch you try to enjoy a pie or sausage roll.

Katie Humphrys5:42 pm 02 Mar 21

I don’t think you did.

Haha nope. It was always mega retro. Loved the paint job tho, they are looking bright and cheerful, cream again like when I was a kid! Talk about a time warp. U sound like u got an axe to grind sad to see they publish your trolling on this great family owned bakery they’ve been around years we lived next to them in the Bundah. U don’t sound local to me. It was great to see danny today – tho he did not recognise me! (He pretended he did!)

Enjoyed many growing up and while at college. Did you even know danny and anne? They did tremendous good for the community. You really should be ashamed if you knew all the good things Anne did, akways so generous and donating bread to churches and fetes, and the old peoples homes. If you were a local as long as you say, you’d know that.

That’s got nothing to do with their pies, sausage rolls or premises.

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