By Melissa Keogh
Sugar and spice, Easter and hot cross buns, Darren and Sharon.
Some things are just meant to be together, and for South Australia’s Kytons Bakery duo Darren and Sharon Sutton, their business’s 80th year will be met with more hard work and truckloads of flour.
By Easter weekend, their Edwardstown bakehouse will have churned out 500,000 hot cross buns, made by a team of bakers from 18 tonnes of Laucke flour and several pallets of dried fruit.
Sharon says the longstanding bakery is “manic” in the lead up to Easter as its workforce swells from the usual 10 staff to 30 people who work around the clock to ensure South Australians can enjoy the spiced sweet buns on time.
“In the last week before Easter we’re running for about 24 hours a day,” she says.
“Aside from the hot cross buns we also sell a lot of lamingtons, waffles and cookies.
“Products are piled up on pallets ready to be delivered, the music is usually up really loud and we’re working very long hours, but it’s a good time.”
In the past 80 years, Kytons has been through a few transformations and put a spin on a classic Easter treat.
Six years ago, a local radio station ran a campaign to discover a new flavour of hot cross buns.
The result was a Kytons and Robern Menz collaboration, with only 1000 Fruchoc hot cross bun packets made for the exclusive promotion that certainly caught on.
“People were queued up outside the radio station on Easter Thursday morning,” Sharon says.
“The Fruchoc hot cross bun has now become a part of people’s Easter tradition. I have a friend who takes them away every year and grills them on their barbecue, to melt the chocolate with that charred barbecue taste.”
Aside from hot cross buns, Kytons is also renowned for making the quintessential Australian cake, the lamington.
The Kytons wrapped, chocolate-dipped and coconut-sprinkled sponge cake has existed in children’s lunchboxes and pantry cupboards for decades.
The lamington is believed to have been invented in Australia in the late 1800s and named after Lord Lamington, who served as the Governor of Queensland until 1901.
“There are lots of stories but that’s the most plausible one,” says Sharon.
“They were invented by the cooks in government house in Queensland … they had guests for afternoon tea and all they had was dry cake.
“So they dipped it in chocolate to make it softer and then dipped it in coconut so they’re fingers wouldn’t get as sticky.”
Kytons lamingtons have twice been crowned best in the country, while the recipes used to make the cakes have remain relatively unchanged.
School children of the 1980s and ’90s would remember Kytons’ fundraising lamington drive, an initiative that would benefit thousands of community groups and projects over the years.
Kytons supplied sheets of sponge cake, chocolate dip and shredded coconut to schools, Scouts, Girl Guides and churches to make lamingtons, sell them and raise money.
“Kytons has become a part of the SA community whether it’s through the fundraising drives or just those habits like kids having a lamington in their lunchbox at school,” Sharon says.
“That’s something we’re really proud of and happy to be a part of people’s memories.”
The Kytons brand was established in SA in 1938 by the Hignett Brothers.
The catering company had a stall at the Adelaide Central Market in the 1940s before a bakehouse was built on Carrington Street in the 1950s.
In 1975 the business was sold to John and Carol Darwin but remained in the Central Market until 1988, selling cakes and buns.
In its 80 years, Kytons has only been sold twice.
The Suttons bought it in 2003 after owning a bakery at Flagstaff Hill for 10 years. Darren had worked at Kytons as a teenager, as his best mate’s father was the owner.
Darren baked, while Sharon – who has a university degree in politics – took over administration and marketing roles, later becoming the face of the bakery and an I Choose SA ambassador.
The Suttons introduced Kytons products to Foodland and Woolworths supermarkets, cafés and greengrocers, while the fundraising drives now makes up about 25-30% of the business.
More recently Kytons has secured a NSW distributor, meaning Sydneysiders are set to enjoy the baked secrets of SA.
Sharon says she’s noticed that SA consumers are consistently eager to back local producers and makers, as seen with the the revival of Spring Gully in 2017.
“SA consumers are becoming very parochial about what they want to eat, where it comes from and the provenance behind it,” she says.
“The food community we have here in SA is the envy of other states.”
Visit I Choose SA to find out how you can support our state by choosing South Australian businesses, products and services.