What are your memories of primary school morning tea? Ours is a squashed Vegemite and cheese scroll perhaps, a bruised pear, or, if we were lucky, the humble finger bun – super-sweet, with pink or white icing, and guaranteed to be gone within three seconds.
The finger bun of childhood memories has been given a makeover at Humble, the cult bakery and café on Holt Street, Surry Hills. Humble is from the all-star team behind Porteño, Wyno X Bodega and Bastardo, which all happen to be found on the same drag (if this was a game of Monopoly, the Porteño group would be making it rain). Humble’s take on the finger bun results in one big giant tick: the bread is soft, pillowy and spiked with dried fruit, with ribbons of pink icing piped perfectly on top, and a thick layer of salted butter in the middle. At $7.50, it costs more than the ones from Baker’s Delight, however, it’s nostalgic and elevated all at once (and we can easily still get it down in three seconds).
Humble doesn’t just serve finger buns, though. They bake fresh bread – sourdough loaves, focaccia, baguettes and ciabatta – daily, as well as cakes and pastries. Plum brings a nice touch of acidity to a brown butter tart with crumbly, golden pastry. A picture-perfect lamington comes in the shape of a Rubik's Cube; the sponge cake is fluffy and bouncy with a coating of chocolate and a sprinkle of coconut. It's fun in a bite and we take several.
Onto savoury goods. The sandwiches are generous, rich and bursting with all the good things in life: flavour, salt and fat. Though one of these bad boys is enough to lull you into an afternoon nap. Take the salami sandwich, for example: two thick slabs of chewy, olive oil-laced focaccia encase slices of salami, marinated strips of capsicum, vinegar-y artichokes, salty capers, creamy ricotta and fresh rocket. It takes both hands to eat, and at least four serviettes, but dammit, it’s delicious.
An excellent falafel sandwich – herby soft falafel, a spiced sweet pickle, creamy hummus and fresh purple cabbage in ciabatta – is anything but ‘a vegan option’ afterthought. The porchetta roll – a once-in-a-blue-moon special – comes with punchy chimichurri, mayo and crunchy, salty pork crackling, as well as bitter radicchio that does a great job of cutting through the fatty pork. With oil dripping down our elbows, we declare that this is one of the best sandwiches we’ve ever had, before heading home for that nap. Plus, there are thick and fat pork and fennel sausage rolls, great coffee, and a random assortment of goods to take home, such as wine, soy milk, pickles and tea.
You can order takeaway or dine in at Humble; to get to your seats you’ll need to walk through the bakery, which is a great way to get a stickybeak at the bakers doing their thing. As well as Surry Hills, you’ll find Humble in Quay Quarter Lanes, and in Newtown on weekends.
If the definition of humble means modest, then sure, you’ll find modest ingredients like flour, sugar and salt at Humble. But with the use of beautiful produce and expert baking techniques practised with love and care, the team manages to take unassuming ingredients and turn them into a triumph.