April 9, 2020
Wine & Dine

Three minutes with … Michael Pitt, Kytons Bakery

As bakehouse supervisor at Kytons Bakery, Michael Pitt has been making Kytons hot cross buns every Easter for the past 12 years.

Michael grew up in Mount Gambier and wanted to become a chef, but took up an apprenticeship at a local bakery. With his gregarious personality, the experienced baker keeps his team in good spirits during the busy period.

How secret is Kytons’ hot cross bun recipe?
Nothing too secret; at Kytons we use a special blend of spices, which we mix ourselves. The key is lots of good Australian fruit, lots of love, and Laucke flour packaged just for us.

What makes a perfect hot cross bun?
The perfect hot cross bun is made with a well-mixed dough, with lots of fruit, plenty of spice and baked in a moderately high oven.

What is your best-selling bun?
Our traditional hot cross buns are the best sellers because they taste the way a good hot cross bun should! We also make fruit-less and FruChocs varieties.

How big is your baking team in the lead-up to Easter?
Our Easter baking team consists of two shifts of up to nine people, including two full-time bakers, a few assistant bakers and some old timers who come back and help us out every year. A few extra staff help pack all the orders that we send out for retail and fundraising. Both my daughters have also picked up a couple of shifts over the years. 

How many buns will you make?
About half a million buns is a normal number in the lead-up to Easter. Buns usually have a two-hour proving time and then go into the oven for 22 minutes.

What’s your favourite way to enjoy a hot cross bun?
I like to take home some traditional buns so I can relax and enjoy them. Some I like to toast in a sandwich press with lots of butter, and others I enjoy fresh with butter, and sometimes with a splash of honey.  

Why do you think hot cross buns hitting shelves early is such a controversial issue?
Our buns go on sale in mid-February. I don’t personally have a problem with other brands on the shelves early; if customers want to buy them, then they can.

How are you celebrating Easter this year?
We finish at about 2pm on Maundy Thursday and then recover on Good Friday after a few beers with the other bakers. Then I enjoy a hard-earned week off. Traditionally we go down to our family shack at Mount Gambier for Easter.

What do bakers have in common?
The bakers who I’ve met all work efficiently to get the job done.

How do you handle the shift work?
My trick is to always go to bed eight hours before I start my shift, therefore getting seven hours of sleep, and then one hour for getting ready and travelling time.

What is your hidden talent?
I have a very good brain for calculating numbers, especially in dozens! 

What’s life for you outside of baking?
Outside of work I enjoy brewing beer at my local men’s shed and watching sports. I have three children aged from 15 to 22 and my partner in crime, Lisa, also has two children. We make quite the Brady Bunch. My youngest daughter wants to be a cake decorator so hopefully she’ll follow in my footsteps.

This story was first published in the April 2020 issue of SALIFE magazine.


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