Story and photos by Carla Occaso
MONTPELIER — By the time Easter Sunday rolls around, Steve Stoufer will have “crossed” 10,000 hot cross buns with stiff white icing at the Manghis’ Bread located behind Kellogg-Hubbard Library at 28 School St.
Knowing that Manghis’ Bread is in the midst of its annual hot cross bun production, which begins on Ash Wednesday (this year Feb. 18) and continues through the 40 days of Lent until Easter, prompted me to stop by to take some photographs for the upcoming issue. I stopped in around noon on March 24, and the bakery bustled with work and commerce as co-owner Stoufer crossed buns in the back, longtime worker Preya Holland bagged bread in the front, and co-owner Maria Stoufer greeted customers who came through the door. Some customers came and went briskly, while others hung around for a while, like 4-and-a-half-year-old Molly Dubois and her mother, Liz Knapp, a former Manghis’ baker. Dubois climbed up on a stool and accepted the freshly baked and crossed bun that Steve offered her shortly after she arrived. She munched away while the grownups talked. Steve crossed 280 buns on March 24, but said on the Friday before Easter, he expects to cross 864.
“Last year we ran out,” Maria said. “We stocked our stores, but they ran out.”
Hot cross buns have been offered for nearly four decades at this location, originally by company founders, Maria’s parents, Paul and Elaine Manghi. “It is traditional,” Maria said.
The Stoufers also offered me some buns, and I determined to describe to an unknowing reader what a hot cross bun tastes like shortly after it comes out of the oven and minutes after it is frosted. A hint of cinnamon, just the right amount of frosting to be a sweet treat that is not overwhelming, fresh, slightly chewy. Still, it was hard to define the exact blend of spices, so I asked Maria for clarification. “The nutmeg is the predominant flavor. It is an interesting flavor not many people cook with. That is the signature flavor: Nutmeg and cinnamon,” Maria said. They also have Zante currants. Get them while you still can.
Manghis’ Bread is open Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.