Hot Cross buns make the perfect subject for this month’s comparison taste test. The humble spiced sweet bun with raisins or currants is a traditional bakery snack across most of the world. For the superstitious, sharing a hot cross bun with another is said to ensure friendship throughout the year. As always I had criteria to make the tasting equal: each bun had to pass two tests: fresh and toasted and I used the same kind of butter on all buns. Buns were rated on overall taste, raisin content and visual appeal. These are my top 5.
1. Baker’s Inn Belgravia. 8/10. *BEST VALUE FOR MONEY
Having faired badly when I rated steaks pies, I didn’t expect much from Baker’s Inn but I was pleasantly surprised. The bun was visually appealing, skating the thin line between a quaint homely wholewheat look and something that has been well crafted. The raisins were suitably numerous and the taste was light and fluffy both fresh and toasted. $1 for 4
2. Vali’s Bakery Kensington. 7.5/10.
Easily the most expensive, so I expected a lot. The bun is certainly tasty and they didn’t skimp on the raisins but there wasn’t that something special to make me feel like I’d spent my money wisely. In the end they couldn’t actually out do my number one choice in any specific criteria except that it looked really amazing. I felt like they should have been head and shoulders above the competition but fell just short. $1 each
3. TM Newlands. 7/10
Oddly this bun wasn’t really doing well in the ‘fresh’ taste test but excelled in the ‘toasted’ test. It was a bit too stodgy before it was toasted although it had a decent raisin content, but then once it had been under the grill for 3 minutes, the bun suddenly melted in my mouth and, had I rated my taste test purely on toasted buns, I think this actually might have won! $1.20 for 4.
4. Bon Marche Avondale. 6/10
Again this bun was much improved after being toasted albeit not as dramatically as the TM bun. There was an uncanny similarity between the look of this bun and my Baker’s Inn top choice except this looked like the cheap version even though it cost 20c more. When fresh there was a slightly bitter taste, resulting, I suspect, from the mix of spices, but all round this still wasn’t bad. $1.20 for 4.
5. Spar Kensington. 5.5/10
I’m not sure if being so close to Valis Bakery has prompted this Kensington Spar to market its bakery products as slightly cheaper and slightly lower quality versions. In this case I really thought it was true. Actually the taste of the bun was not bad, hence the reason for including them in my selection, but they were really stingy on the raisins! I had to check a couple more just to make sure I hadn’t chosen a freak bun. $2 for 6.
So there you have it. The buns all definitely tasted best when toasted and spread with butter so if you have the time, that little extra effort makes a great difference. And remember to share your bun with a friend if you want to make sure they’ll still be your friend this time next year. Happy Easter!