Chocolate may get most of the attention come Easter, but it isn't the only treat we're coveting once the season for bunnies, eggs and unabashed gluttony rolls around. Yip, that's right fam—we're talking about hot cross buns, or HCBs.
Now before all you choccy lovers out there start screaming 'sacrilege', picture this: a perfectly baked bun, flavoured with a heavenly combo of fragrant spices and sweet, juicy dried fruit, topped off with a cute little cross (preferably toasted, and slathered in a shitload of butter). Heck, some bakers might even get a lil' fancy and add chunks of chocolate, swirls of salted caramel... the possibilites are endless.
Whatever way you take 'em, one thing's for sure: these babies are good for the soul (and even better for the stomach). So loosen that belt and prepare to meet your baker, because we've found the absolute best hot cross buns in Auckland.
Ascot, Belmont, Howick, Mt. Albert & Mt. Eden
Wild Wheat's hot cross buns are an absolute vision. Baked in individual rounds rather than as a batch, it almost seems a shame to cut into them, but... nah! And you'll be glad you did, because these beauties also deliver on the flavour front, big time. They absolutely nail the balance of fruit and spice, while the bun itself is light, fluffy, and topped off with a crunchy, slightly chewy exterior. One might even say they're Last Supper-worthy.
Bread & Butter
Grey Lynn, Ponsonby & Whangaparaoa
We're saying a big fat amen to the hot cross buns at Bread & Butter, which we must confess are some of the best in Auckland. And with three stores across the region, you have no excuse not to get your hands on some of these irresistibly good Easter treats. The result of a lil' sourdough magic (and a hell of a lot of love and care), they feature a buttermilk-infused base studded with raisins, apricots, currants and cranberries, topped with a burnt butter and spiced cinnamon glaze. Lord, have mercy.
Ellerslie and Online
For some of the tastiest HCBs in town, you can't go past Loaf. Whether you like to keep things traditional or mix it up a little (hello, dark chocolate and blueberry), these guys are bringing their absolute A-game this Easter with deliciously dense buns, packed full of flavour. We're particularly partial to their salted caramel offering, which reaches irresistible new heights when paired with a healthy whack of salted butter. Loaf also offer a keto-friendly version and for that, they get extra brownie points.
We love their pastries and breads beyond measure–but at Easter time, we only have eyes for Amano's hot cross buns. So what's their secret, you ask? A sprinkle of something old mixed with a dash of something new, actually. These guys have paired traditional HCB ingredients with farm-fresh orange juice and a citrus-spiced glaze for a gamechanging bun that will legit bless your tastebuds. And did we mention they also do a chocolate version?
Britomart, Fort Street & Morningside
If you're a true hot cross bun aficionado, you'll be familiar with Miann. That's because this CBD spot makes some of the most popular HCBs in the city. So c'mon then, what's the big deal? A decadent chocolate bun flavoured with chunks of housemade dark chocolate, topped off with a chocolate cross, that's what. Or perhaps you'd rather their traditional version, which also receives our highest praise. Whatever the flavour, we'd strongly advise stuffing your hot cross bun with a scoop or two of Miann's famous gelato.
Ima Cuisine's hot cross buns are the stuff of legend, known to cause queues and stop traffic (okay, maybe not that last part, but we have been told that more than 1000 orders were placed for them the day before Easter one year). One bite of these bad boys, and you'll soon discover why they're so popular—the base is deliciously dense, bursting with currants, spices and orange peel, all topped off with a gooey custard cross. That said, we recommend using their online ordering system so you can secure your stash of this coveted treat before—God forbid—they should sell out for the day.
Jason Hay, you've done it again. Yip, the multi award-winning baker and owner of Richoux Patisserie has cranked out yet another glorious treat for us and as you may have guessed, it's his hot cross buns. If you like a traditional bakery-style HCB pumped full of juicy fruit, these babies are solid, and it seems we're not the only ones who think so because they've won a ton of awards.
The Pie Piper
Eastridge & K' Road
You know them for their showstopping pies, but did you that The Pie Piper also make dangerously good hot cross buns? These handrolled hotties are a true labour of love and are only a fairly new addition to the menu, but we're life-long converts already. That's because they tick all the right HCB boxes with their perfect blend of fruit and spices (along with a lil' mixed peel for added flavour), all wrapped up inside a divinely soft dough.
Pt Chev, newmarket
Give us Lord our daily bread, especially when it comes in the form of hot cross buns from one of our all time favourite bakeries. Daily Bread's version ain't shy on the spice and is filled to the brim with sultanas, raisins and currants soaked in a splash of golden rum (now you're talking). However it's the sourdough base that's where the magic really happens, resulting in a bun that's springy, moist, and drop dead DELICIOUS. This year they're created their best version yet, thanks to the ancient Italian method of lievito madre. This three-day-long process gives the buns even more flavour and a longer shelf life, minus the additives. Forgive us, but we'll be going full-glutton on these bad boys.
The Real Bread Project
Did someone say stout-infused hot cross buns? Hell yeah they did, and it was The Real Bread Project. A game-changing take on the traditional HCB, these hearty treats have become something of an Easter icon (Pastrami & Rye were even selling them last year as part of a hot cross bun bacon butty, omg). This year you'll find them at The Real Bread Project's very own store in Helensville, as well as a pop-up in nearby Huapai (ending late March). Made from all the traditional bits and pieces (think raisins, sultanas and candied mixed peel) and house-brewed stout, these are by far the most unique buns on this list.
La Voie Francaise
Spice up your life with a hot cross bun (or 10) from La Voie Francaise. These are also baked in cute little individual portions and as you know, we have a bit of a thing for that. However appearances aren't everything and lucky for us, these ones taste just as gorgeous as they look. Little clouds of bready goodness studded with soaked raisins, cranberries and orange peel then slathered in a sweet and glossy glaze, they'll legit bring your tastebuds to life.
A hot cross bun that's gluten-free AND vegan? Now that's what we call an Easter miracle. Head on over to Charlie Mia to enjoy these wholesome treats, which are baked fresh daily and contain all the best bits about an HCB (the flavour!), while being a little kinder on your body (and your conscience).
Scandibunz | Online
Now technically this one isn't a HCB (for obvious reasons, see picture above and name, to follow), but when devouring Scandibunz droolworthy (K)not Cross Buns, we couldn't help but draw a comparison. Taking inspiration from three different treats—the traditional Scandinavian Vörtbröd (a spiced, malted rye bread with raisins), the classic hot cross bun and Scandibunz very own cardamom bun—this holy trinity of treats is where it's at this Easter. Bursting with festive flavours including rich notes of gingerbread, then slathered in a gorgeous coffee glaze, these are what we call Scandi-lously good.
Why not pair your decadent hot cross bun with one of the best coffees in Auckland?
Image credit: Wild Wheat, Loaf, Fort Greene, Ima Cuisine, Daily Bread, Scandibunz