“We just want to make sure the product’s right, because we want to be here for a long time.”
We’re chatting to Hunter Bread‘s namesake and baker, Hunter Carlberg. It’s a rainy day, and we’re enjoying the cosy warmth of the bakery’s oven while he shapes loaves into their signature “longs”, “bigs” and “smalls”.
The bakery is tucked away in Bicton Central; a strip of shops off Canning Highway that includes Fresh Provisions, P.Princi Butchers and Puck Espresso. The addition of Hunter Bread has made the spot a gourmet centre of sort – the ideal pre-dinner party shopping hub or a quick stop for a morning coffee and a loaf of bread.
“We’re not looking to pull people out of their routine, we’re looking to fit into it.”
To find the bakery, look out for a discrete, hand-painted sign on the window.
“We could have a big sign and stuff, but if the bread’s not up to scratch then no one’s going to come here anyway!” Hunter laughs.
The bakery takes a minimalistic approach to their offerings, with a signature French farmhouse-style sourdough taking pride of place in a range of shapes. With a complex, dark crust and a pleasingly sour, chewy crumb… If you were going to just make one bread, this is certainly a good candidate.
“Once you start adding products, you just have less time to think about the dough. So we’ll try and just stick with the bread and not too much else. My little brain can’t handle all those products!”
While the style is predominantly French, it’s been influenced by Hunter’s years on the east coast. Growing up in Perth and spending almost a decade in New South Wales, he worked as a cook then started baking at cult-favourite Sydney bakery Iggy’s.
“Iggy’s instilled this ethos of buying the best ingredients you can, charging as cheap as you can for them, building the business from scratch, and engaging locals. Working for them was different to working in kitchens – it had a friendlier, more sustainable kind of climate.”
As well as their classic longs, shorts and bigs, you can also pick up a daily special (on this day it was a spelt loaf), or rolls – individually or in a satisfying, concentric wheel. For sweet tooths, there are slices of two cakes on offer, which you can enjoy with a cup of Pound batch brew coffee standing at the reclaimed timber counter. Dine-in customers can also enjoy a slice of bread with a daily selection of offerings – like butter, chevrano and a slathering yuzu marmalade made with end of season fruit from Hunter’s dad’s yuzu farm.
All of these are served up by front-of-house aficionado Shannon Malone, who’s also the brains behind her eponymous ethical slow fashion label, which has a similar ethos of curated, considered design.
Shannon has a background in luxury retail, and it translates well to this setting.
“I’m really all about creating an experience, and hospitality… Even though my background isn’t in hospitality,” she tells us, in between warmly greeting customers. “It’s a premium product, so it needs to be handed with two hands, you need to take your time to wrap it, you need to brush it.”
“We might not be an every week purchase for a lot of people,” Hunter agrees. “But we’re happy to be a special purchase as well.”
Hunter Bread is located at Shop 14/258 Canning Highway, Bicton, and is open Thursday and Friday 7:00AM to 3:00PM, and from 7:30AM to 3:00PM weekends (unless sold out prior).