So, if you live in the United States, it is highly possible that you've never heard of Ferguson Plarre Bakehouse. It's not so strange, really: they're a chain of bakeries in Australia. Two families started baking around the turn of the century in the 1900s: in the 1800s, by European settlers in the Land Down Under, the Ferguson family commenced retail business in 1901; the Plarres in 1911 mostly in the Northern and Western suburbs and both families soon established themselves as household names in Melbourne.
As I learned from their website, "Both families continued trading through both World Wars and the Great Depression despite the tough conditions. After years of refining their 'craft' and significant contributions to the pastrycooking trade both families merged their businesses to become 'Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses' in 1980."
But really, that's all just interesting back-story to an interesting tale I came across regarding that Easter favorite, the Hot Cross Bun. This bakery has a rather fun story attached to one of their best-selling holiday items, which went down in 1912 (100 years ago!!). Per their website:
“The Hot Cross Buns Episode”: Otto Plarre excelled at making Hot Cross Buns and became famous very quickly for his skill with this product. But his first attempt at supplying the Easter shoppers was disastrous! Otto had prepared a large batch of buns on Holy Thursday and they had sold exceedingly well. Expecting most sales the following day – Easter Friday – as was the case in Europe, Otto prepared an even bigger batch, only to learn that his new Australian customers did not shop on that day. He was left literally, holding the bag. Otto traditionally baked very rich hot cross buns. There was always as much fruit as flour and subsequently his Easter buns became very famous.
As I always say, "it tastes better with a back-story", and doesn't that make you want to taste these legendary buns?
But wait, there's more: Ferguson Plarre doesn't just offer Hot Cross Buns, they also offer Chocolate Hot Cross Buns (HCB meets Cadbury!). Um, they also offer delicious ways to trick them out. A consultation on their bun page reveals that they suggest:
Ice Cream Hot Cross Buns, which are Hot Cross Buns: Slice & toast your favourite Hot Cross Bun. Put in a scoop of vanilla ice cream, dust with bun with icing sugar and drizzle lightly with maple syrup. Serve warm. Scrumptious!
Hot Cross Buns served with Cinnamon Butter: Combine a little caster sugar, ground cinnamon and unsalted butter. Cut the buns in half and spread with lashings of mouthwatering Cinnamon butter. Then just grill or place buns in the oven until the Cinnamon butter has melted and the buns have warmed through.
Hot Cross Buns served with Honey and Orange Butter: For a great treat, combine unsalted butter with castor sugar, honey and orange rind. Beat until the sugar has dissolved through the mixture. Spread the Honey and Orange butter over warm buns, take a waft of the aroma and let the family hoe into them!
If you're in Australia, it's not hard to come by a Ferguson Plarre location; if you're stateside, you tell me where to get the best buns, and I promise I'll try to visit soon.