Doughy and dense or light and fluffy. Lightly spiced or citrus-spiked. Glistening with glaze or dry-to-touch. The ingredients of the perfect hot cross bun are a hotly debated topic, as contentious in many eyes as the relative merits of Ryans Gosling v Reynolds.
Nonetheless, it's a debate we saw fit to weigh in on, this week hosting an epic battle of the buns at TUL HQ. We devoured close to our collective bodyweight in butter-laden Easter treats, all in the name of crowning Melbourne's best hot cross buns for 2014. Read on, honey bunnies, for our top ten.
(Looking for the 2015 edition of Melbourne's best hot cross buns? We've got them right here!)
#1 – TIVOLI ROAD BAKERY
The decision was unanimous: this hot cross bun is our pick for Melbourne's best*. As close to perfection as you're going to get, this bun boasts a light and fluffy texture and a delicious glaze that earns bonus points as it's not too sticky. The balance of fruit flavours is bang on and the generous bun will keep the hunger pangs at bay. A fancy schmancy bun that lives up to the hype and will impress the pants off any Easter blow ins.
#1 – COOPER AND MILLA'S
That's right folks – *it's a tie! The Cooper and Milla's hot cross bun is simply AHHHmazing. Chock full of currants and sultanas, zesty mixed peel, five spice plus more, the genius addition of fennel makes this hot cross bun a stand out, with a savoury twist. Call us crazy, but we think it would be even better with the addition of some crumbly cheddar and a glass of pinot.
Ok folks. Now for the rest of Melbourne's best hot cross buns, in NO PARTICULAR ORDER.
BRIOCHE BY PHILIP
Well spiced and cinnamon-y, this bun is on the denser side, with excellent fruit content (super plump sultanas). The only downside is that it's on the smaller side. Just buy two!
This pretty looking, perfectly rounded bun by cake king Matt Forbes has an excellent glaze and quite a dense consistency. The fruit content is impressive and it's lightly spiced and sizeable.
Another delicious hot cross bun, Phillippa's fare has a lovely fluffy consistency, good glaze and a yummy citrus hit is provided by the inclusion of candied orange. The bun is perfectly round and fairly standard in size.
As expected from a bakery that specialises in organic, sourdough bread, the Loafer hot cross bun is different from the rest of the pack. Beautifully presented with a high-gloss glaze, it's a more savoury sourdough style hot crossie (again – we're going to try it with cheese), and you can taste the cardamom.
Fitzroy's Rustica has perfected the classic hot cross bun. Glaze-free and medium sized, it's not too light and not too dense. In fact, it's just right. Fruity and spicy, it balances its flavours well.
As you'd expect, this bun is healthy tasting, but in a decidedly good way. The organic, sourdough bun has a slightly sour (well, duh) flavour and a nice, light texture. Glaze-free and with a lovely citrus taste, SK's bun wins the size battle hands down.
HOOTSEN'S BAKERY CONDITOREI
Sorry traditionalists, but the choc cross bun from Hootsen's definitely deserves a spot on this list. Light and fluffy, the chocolate bun is chock full of LOADS of chocolaty chunks. My my, those Dutch folk are generous! We tasted at room temp, but predict the gooeyness that would result from a quick zap in the microwave would make this bun even better. Oh, and because you taste with your eyes first, Hootsen's earns top points for the most perfect cross.
Made with organic flour, the Dench hot cross bun is a great all rounder. The consistency is on the denser (dencher?) side, and the bun is studded with a generous amount of fruit (orange, sultanas, currants and raisins). The fruit mix is just right and it's wonderfully spiced with their secret Dench spice blend. A classic hot cross bun.
Thanks to the bakeries involved for donating their buns to this worthy cause!
Main Image Credit: thepioneerwoman.com