Loaf has been part of our Farro family of producers since we started 10 years ago.
Sean Armstrong had founded Loaf just two years earlier and was setting up his small bakery just around the corner from our Lunn Ave store in Mt Wellington. In 2017, they are handcrafting traditional hot cross buns as well as chocolate hot cross buns for Farro, using our own special recipes. We tinkered for many months with different recipes, which involved lots of tastings, toastings and lashings of butter to get them just right – the ideal balance of fruit and spice to satisfy our Easter cravings.
The trick to the perfect hot cross bun, according to Loaf’s founder Sean, is plenty of fruit that has been well soaked, and just the right balance of spices, along with a slow fermentation time and gentle mixing so the fruits don’t get smashed.
Sean’s passion for baking began when he opened the acclaimed Prime Bistro in Auckland and started making bread for the restaurant. A chef by trade, he trained in New Zealand before his travels took him to London where he honed his skills working in several Michelin-starred restaurants. When he returned home to Auckland he worked as head chef at the iconic O’Connell Street Bistro before setting up Prime Bistro. It was there that he spotted there was a bit of a gap in the market for a premium bakery catering for restaurants’ needs for freshly baked artisan bread.
In 2004, he started Loaf to fill that gap – to create handcrafted artisan bread and cakes for cafes, retailers and restaurants. Over the past 12 years he’s grown his bakery, which now employs 85 staff who help to create an extensive range of handcrafted breads, sourdoughs, cakes, slices, pastries, scones, muffins, doughnuts, seasonal treats like Christmas mince tarts and hot cross buns and, more recently, a range of raw Bliss Bites. Loaf has also pioneered many new tastes. Sean was the first to introduce sliders (still one of Loaf’s biggest sellers) to NZ in collaboration with chef Al Brown, and they were also behind the cronut craze here.
“Loaf is all about wholesome food and real ingredients and, above all, flavour,” Sean says. “All along, we have strived to produce food for people who enjoy baking ‘just like mum used to make’”.
We asked Sean what he will be serving for the long weekend brunch; oatmeal pancakes with real maple syrup, classic poached eggs hollandaise and rocket, and plenty of hot cross buns along the way, of course! You can find six-packs of Farro traditional or chocolate hot cross buns in our deli.