While baked goods are top of our must-eat list pretty much all year round, they well and truly hold prime position at Easter, when the glorious hot cross bun makes its annual appearance at bakeries across the city. Finding the prefect hot cross bun is a challenge that we take pretty seriously each Easter, and this one is no different. This year, we tried out no less than TWENTY different buns, spanning traditional spiced treats to chocolate-fuelled sugar comas.
So, who makes the best the cross buns in Melbourne? Find out where you should be doing your Easter shopping below.
The Overall Winner
Aussie Farmers Direct
Yes, we’re serious. After trialling hot cross buns from near and far, the winners in a blind test, on flavour (not too much spice, but enough of a fruitful flavour), texture and overall presentation, was Aussie Farmers Direct’s traditional hot cross buns. The buns temselves were baked by Delbake Bakery, south-east of Melbourne, which is run by the Longhurst family who owned one of the first bakeries with a wood-fired oven in Victoria. And it looks like the generations of practice have paid off—the hot cross buns kept their texture even after toasting, and were exactly what we’d reach for with a cuppa when the 3pm slump hits. Bravo, Aussie Farmers!
Coveted 2nd Place
Last year’s winner, Rustica Sourdough, came in at 2nd place with what has to be one of the most perfectly balanced hot cross buns on the face of the planet. Rustic enough for it to feel like it’s worth a dollar or two more than your standard fare, yet not so ‘out there’ on the spectrum that you couldn’t handle a second, these are a top local pick.
The Luxe Choc Option
Our tastebuds went mad for Chez Dre’s chocolate hot cross buns, which were by all means one of the most decadent options on our taste-off plates. Loaded with chocolate chips, cherries and other fruits, these buns mean business. And, as expected, their regular buns were an absolute delight too. If you’re looking for rich flavours that are presented in super-cute packaging, these need to be on your Easter shopping list.
Oasis Bakery cheated their way into our good books by delivering a box of Nutella and brioche hot cross buns. They tasted nothing like hot cross buns and everything like a brioche roll injected with a healthy shot of everyone’s favourite hazelnut spread. If you want to get into the Easter spirit but hate fruit peel, these are 100% your bag.
Also hot on their heels were the Aussie Farmers' Choc Chip buns, which had an incredible fluffy texture, Docklands’ Long Shot Cafe’s choc chip infused take on the traditional fruit bun (a tad confusing but fab with a slathering of butter), and La Madre’s chocolate chip twist. Totally drool-worthy eating, especially for you chocoholics.
The Instagram-Worthy Contenders
Auction Rooms & Tivoli Road
Both Auction Rooms and Tivoli Road delivered buns that were greeted with squeals of delight when we lifted their boxes’ lids. A glossy glaze and perfect toasting made these two delights our most photogenic picks—and, of course, they tasted as good as they looked. Fight you for the last glazed top?
For The Purists
Baker D. Chirico, Candied Bakery, Filou’s & La Madre
If you’re a purist who loves fruit peel and juicy raisins scattered throughout your toasted buns, you can’t go wrong with Baker D. Chirico’s regular hot cross buns, and Candied Bakery’s buns with a little bite. We all agreed that these would make great staples at any Easter gathering.
However, if you love seasonal spices and want a heartier bun, La Madre’s hot cross buns are like the Easter equivalent of a Christmas cake. Crammed full of fruit and with a richer body than anything else on the tasting table, they were a divisive treat, but this particular author would defend them to the death. For those who like a sweeter fruit bun, Filou’s hot cross buns are a must-try—add a little salted butter and you have the perfect sweet-salt combo.
The Best Of The Rest
So, who else’s buns did we snack on? South Blackburn’s The Honey Thief Bakery, Surrey Hills’ Zimt Patiesserie and North Fitzroy’s Dench served up traditional buns that were tasty both untoasted and warmed, with a special shout-out to The Honey Thief’s tasty glaze and chai latte serving suggestion (soooo good on a cold afternoon!)
Not keen on masses of fruit? Choukette Bakery’s buns were simple with a bread-like texture—perfect for an Easter bacon and egg roll?!—and last but not least, Oasis Bakery’s regular buns were fluffy, light and ideal for a mid-morning nibble.
Think you know of better hot cross buns in Melbourne? Let us know about them on Facebook!
Image credit: Soph Colvin for The Urban List