Monday, April 11

The insider: Behind the scenes as Coles bakes its hot cross buns

It was 6am and still dark when I arrived at my local Coles 'scratch' bakery for a look at behind the scenes of those delicious hot cross buns we can't stop buying (I can't seem to keep up with my hubby's addiction!).

My eyes are weary and when I arrive it is apparent I'm the Johnny come lately.  Ranko the head baker of the day has been there since 2am and the assistant baker, Dean has been here since 4am.   I'm joined shortly after by Josh the bakery manager.   I'm in good hands today - all three are qualified bakers and between them have 73 years of baking experience.  This is no factory folks.  This is the real deal. Coles employs 570 qualified trade bakers and more than 5000 bakery team members Australia wide.
I've arrived just in time to see the hot cross buns process start.  Ranko pours into the dough mixer the 31kg flour/sugar mix, the fresh yeast and water and the dough hook gets to work.  A few minutes later it's beautiful and silky and we remove some mixture that will become the chocolate hot cross buns.

Cinnamon is then added and mixed through, and another exact amount is weighed out and removed for the fruitless hot cross buns.   Then 12 kg of sultanas are added and this dough that's the final bit of dough to be removed from the initial lot will make up the regular and mini hot cross buns.

The first bit of dough that was removed to be the chocolate lot, is added back to the machine and the cocoa and chocolate chips are added.   Finally all the dough is kneaded and starts to rest... then comes the time to make them into real buns.

There's another machine that gives the uniform shape, and each exactly weighed lot is put on a grooved paddle.  This is then put into a press-type machine which is pulled down and then voila!  We have perfect rolls.

These are then placed on greased and lined baking trays (they are huge!) and lined up on the tiered baking trays.

They look beautiful don't they?

From here they go into the proving chamber - I ask Ranko if they get their kit off and have a coldie in there at the end of the shift (like a sauna..right?) and he looks at me like I'm being serious.. Dean and Josh laugh, it's a friendly place.

After 15 minutes the fruitless buns are removed first as fruit inhibits rising time (each fruit bun has 30% fruit content).  They are 'crossed'.  Then the rest come out of the proving chamber and then crossed, back on the baking trays ready for the big (not bad) oven.  We've got 528 hot cross buns in there today, and they expect to sell them out - it's a 'slow day' being a Wednesday, it's busier on the weekends...

Did you know there are minimum of 100 choc-chips in every coles hot cross bun?  I think that's why they are my hubby's favourite.  He's a true chocoholic.

Easter Thursday is the biggest day of the year when they expect to bake at least 15-20 times that amount.  Last year Coles sold 28 million hot cross buns here in Australia - and about 7.6 packets of buns per second on that Easter Thursday! I think these bakers would have hot cross bun burn-out by Easter Saturday which is when the last lot are baked for the year.

Once the buns are out of the oven they are glazed with sugar/water glaze by spray bottle (cool idea!)

and then left to cool ...
before the lovely packer Mary-Jane will then pack and label each pack and then it's moved on out to the store about 9am....

 ready for a few customers who are already waiting for their long awaited fresh hot cross buns.

So friends - what is your favourite type of hot cross bun?  With fruit? Without? Chocolate chip? Mocha?

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10 lovely comments:

Chantelle {fat mum slim} on April 11, 2011 at 6:22 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

That's so cool! That's a lot of effort, just for us. Makes me appreciate them so much more.

Oh, and I like traditional, warmed in the oven with more butter than I'd like to admit! x

Little Miss Moi on April 11, 2011 at 7:23 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I love the fruity ones - the fruit goes all caramelised and delish. Then I toast then in the sandwich press and slather with butter... not quite in the spirit of lent!

Anonymous said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Hubby used to hate Easter as a baker. He won't eat hot cross buns tothis day and he hasn't baked in over 10 years! Great article Liss!

Nicole Bunyon on April 11, 2011 at 11:19 AM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

love it!

Lucy on April 11, 2011 at 12:40 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

So envious.

I am a traditional girl all they way - fruit spiced, warmed not toasted.

Fresh from the bag if they are still warm regardles of cals or indigestion!

Jane on April 11, 2011 at 3:18 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Ooh cool! Hot cross buns are definitely the best part of Easter. Despite being a huge chocolate and coffee fan, the choc-chip and mocha hot cross buns don't do it for me. Traditional hot cross buns with lashings of butter, all the way! xxx

Mumma's Mini Me's - Kym on April 11, 2011 at 3:54 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

Okay Lis! That is seriously cool! I never knew they were hand made! Such a cool gig!

Corrie on April 11, 2011 at 6:39 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

wow! justin thinks I'm silly because I honestly thought they were made somewhere else and just trucked in to Coles! who knew! what a cool way to spend the morning, next time take me as your quiet taste tester

I buy my hot cross buns at coles since that is my local supermarket and they are delicious!

my favourite - traditional and choc chip. I have made my own once but each year I say I will and end up buying lots of them!

great post!

Jaime [SWHHW] on April 11, 2011 at 7:36 PM said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I'm loving your insider series Liss.

Hot X buns are a big favourite at our house.

Anonymous said... [Reply to this amazing comment]

I love the Coles chocolate Hot Cross Buns. It is just a pity that they don't have the Nutrition information on them. Next year would you guys please put it on? It is important for a lot of people. Thank you


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