What's it like to work as a hot cross bun tester?

Tasting 70 hot cross buns a day can be more difficult than it sounds

Jenny Galletly can taste up to 70 hot cross buns a day. Eating so many baked goods may sound like fun but in practice it can be hard, so she tends to spit out most of the buns once she's taken a bite.

The bakery product developer for Marks & Spencer has to try each of the hot cross buns across the company's nine ranges, as well as up to 40 buns from rival retailers on the high street.

She quality tests the M&S buns at every stage, from the first day of purchase to the end of shelflife, including when they have been defrosted and what they taste like toasted.

“I don't think you could physically eat more than 70 - that would be quite a challenge. We just have a bite; you can normally get the flavour without having to properly eat it,” she says.

Galletly has already begun testing hot cross buns for next Easter, and will sign off recipes for 2017 in a few months' time. Understandably, people she meets for the first time can be quite jealous of her job.

“They normally say: 'I can't believe you get to eat all that for a living. I had no idea that job existed.' Then I remind them some days I eat 70 hot cross buns and it can be quite challenging.”

The 35-year-old started as a lingerie buyer for M&S after graduating from Bath University with a degree in business administration. But her real passion has always been food, and she was able to move across as a trainee product developer after three years.

She admits she is “not the world's best baker” but enjoys baking breads, scones and experimenting with bagels and flatbreads in her spare time. She also loves reading cookery books, which she has to do in the job to look out for new baking trends.

Even after tasting so many hot cross buns, Galletly still likes to eat them at home. 

“I'll toast one for breakfast on Easter Sunday. Easter without hot cross buns just wouldn't be Easter,” she says.

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