Despite its large, untraditional structure, which is more of a loaf, Bourke Street Bakery's hot cross bun ticked all the judges' boxes. "Love the old-fashioned flavour," said Pignolet. "Good texture and taste. Nice crumb." Thé gave it two thumbs-up for technique. "The yeast is just perfectly proved and the baking's great." Nourse said: "You're going to cut that into a slice, you're going to put that in the toaster and you're going to be a very happy person." $6.50 a loaf.
We skipped breakfast, rolled up our sleeves and took on the
task of taste-testing hot cross buns in the name of retail
research. Maya Kerthyasa shares the verdict.
This time of year brings plenty of good things, not least the prospect of hot cross buns. While keen home bakers make their own (and there's no shortage of details on our website), many of us turn to bakeries, grocery stores and supermarkets for our fix. These days the shelves are bursting with choice, which is why we decided to road-test 10 of the more classic specimens from different ends of the retail spectrum.
The panel of judges - Christopher Thé of Sydney's Black Star Pastry (a keen bun-maker himself), chef and Gourmet Traveller masterclass contributor Damien Pignolet, our own senior food editor Lisa Featherby, and chief restaurant critic Pat Nourse - blind-tasted each one, looking for buns that were soft and giving with a rich colour, consistent structure and balanced levels of fruit and spice. Most importantly, though, they were looking for buns they'd be happy to serve on their Easter table.
Did they find them? You'll want to flick on the toaster and get the butter out of the fridge - the results were surprising. Here are their findings, starting with the buns they rated most highly.
Note The buns from Flour and Stone, Jocelyn's Provisions and Coles arrived a day before the tasting; our tasters were made aware of this during the tasting.
Photography Ben Hansen Styling Lisa Featherby