This time of year means one thing and one thing only… hot cross buns and a shit-ton of chocolate. Okay that’s two things but let’s just brush over that quickly. There’s nothing more comforting than a holiday that consists of shoveling as much chocolate and sticky fruit buns into one’s mouth as fast as humanly possible. Hot cross buns are our favourite part, always with lashings of butter and warmed until slightly toasty. Each bakery has their own take; more fruit, more spice, breadier, stickier, more and more delicious. We set out to bring you the very best on offer for the Easter season of 2016 in Auckland. Here are nine of the best, in no particular order.
Little & Friday
Newmarket, Ponsonby, Belmont and Auckland CBD
WOW. Just wow. We were blown away by these beauties. Laden with a serious hit of citrus with its orange peel addition, this is perhaps a more grown-up bun. Look at us, so sophisticated. The bun itself isn’t too sweet, but there’s enough raisins in there for a little burst of sweetness in almost every nibble. There seems to be a Little & Friday in almost every corner of the city now, so you’re never far from a HXB fix.
Catroux are well known for their amazing kitchen creations, including those seriously beautiful cakes. Well little surprise that come Easter time they pull out some mighty fine buns. These are big and springy with a decent dose of raisins that seem to gravitate towards the top. There’s not much spice in the base so these are more for those who prefer a subtler bun. Also available at Eat at The Shelter.
Mt Eden, Howick and Belmont
A serious sweet treat. These might just be the most child-and-sweet-tooth-friendly of the bunch. Chock-a-block with raisins and a strong cinnamon spice, these are sticky, slightly gooey and oh-so delish. They have a lot less back than the other buns and sort of deflated to a couple of centimetres high once smothered with the obligatory butter but that just adds to the dense sweetness of these sticky babes. Wild Wheat’s buns are in serious demand so get in quick if you want your fix. Also available at Sabato, they can be ordered by the half or full dozen.
The biggest HXB we’ve come across in the city—this bad boy will do you for lunch, trust us. It’s not too dense though, with a decent dose of fruit and spice disbursed throughout this monstrosity. Apparently sharing a hot cross bun means a lasting friendship—well, given the sheer size these are one you’ll be happy to share. Order to eat in and have it heated perfectly in the oven, with a wrapped portion of butter—a Foxtrot novelty that we whole-heartedly embrace.
Believe the hype. There’s a reason that this St Helier’s Bakery runs out of their HXBs on a daily basis within mere hours—they’re that bloody good. Sourdough based, these are slightly more refined and very dense. Not for the fainthearted but definitely for the inner hot cross bun addict inside us all.
Pandoro’s buns are an absolute classic. HXBs are an Easter tradition and with these buns it’s tradition you’ll get—with nutmeg and cinnamon in the base and hits of sweetness with tangy orange peel and raisins. These come as singles or six packs to take home. We’d quite like to be able to buy a different kind of six pack and take it home…
Since Miann opened on Fort Street last year, the inner city’s dessert game has been taken up a serious notch. These dessert marvels do pretty amazing and photogenic things with chocolate and frozen desserts, and now it’s time for Miann to create hot cross buns for their inaugural Easter season. These glossy beauties have been selling out in a flash daily, so your best bet is to call and order some to make sure you don’t miss out.
Another Fort Street legend Ima Cuisine, is well revered for their incredible hot cross buns. The buns are quite different to the others we’ve seen, with currants and orange peel and a perfectly spiced bready base. That might sound kinda standard, but wait for it. The hero, and what keeps us coming back for more, is the bun’s crowning glory—a custard cross. Now that is taking buns to a whole ‘nother level. You’ll definitely want to quick your name down for orders now—on the Thursday before Easter they do more than 1000 orders!
Boy oh boy has The Caker outdone themselves this Easter! The friendly folk have come to the party with a hot cross bun CAKE. Yep, things don’t get much better than this! The cake stars the familiar flavours of the Easter bun with spices, dark choc chunks, saltanas and candied orange. It’s then generously topped with cinnamon-lace cream cheese icing (umm yes, please!), a ganache cross, hazelnut praline crunch, chocolate pearls and dehydrated grapes. It’s available in a range of sizes including a nine-pack of minicakes—ca-ute!
Image credit: Poires au Chocolat