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.
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. ”
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.
“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.