Hot cross buns

One a penny, two a penny… we test a range of hot cross buns to find out which brand comes out on top.
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One of the best things about Easter – besides the chocolate – is the sweet smell of spice and fruit wafting up from your first hot cross bun as you slather it with butter. To find the best buns we recruited 22 enthusiasts from the CHOICE office and put their taste buds through their paces – testing varieties from Coles, Woolworths, Tip Top, Brumby’s and Bakers Delight.

Sixteen of our 22 taste-testers say they prefer traditional fruit buns, with six preferring the chocolate ones. No one liked fruit-free buns best.

We performed a randomised blind taste test, asking those who prefer fruit in their buns to rate the traditional buns and those who prefer chocolate to rate the chocolate ones.

Or, if buns and bunnies are not your thing, find out more about some organic and fairtrade options instead this Easter. 




Coles Fresh Baked Cross Buns 30% Fruit ($4 for 6)

The rest (listed by rank*):

2. Tip Top Traditional Hot Cross Buns
3. Brumby’s Traditional Hot Cross Buns
4. Bakers Delight Original Hot Cross Buns Traditional
5. Woolworths Traditional Hot Cross Buns

Coles topped this category, although they only impressed six of our 16 traditional bun fans only three people disliked them. Coles’ biggest rival Woolworths’ buns weren't so well received. A few tasters said they contained very little fruit and were just “boring”, with six people saying they dislike them.



Brumby’s Double Choc Hot Cross Buns ($6.90 for 6)

The rest (listed by rank*):

2. Woolworths Mini Hot Cross Buns Choc Chip (equal second) 
3. Bakers Delight Hot Cross Buns Choc Chip (equal second)
4. Woolworths Hot Cross Buns Mocha
5. Coles Fresh Baked Hot Cross Buns Chocolate Chip

If you prefer your hot cross buns chocolatey, Brumby’s Double Choc should hit the mark. Five of our six chocolate bun eaters said they either liked these buns or liked them a lot. One participant described Woolworths Choc Chip Minis as having a “good colour, nice amount of chocolate and good mouth feel”. Give the Coles chocolate ones a wide berth – one taster mentioned their “weird lingering aftertaste” and they’re the only chocolate buns we tested that no one said they would buy.

A word on fruit free

Fruit free are the most unpopular variety in the bunch. Both the Woolworths and Coles bun varieties tested attracted comments such as “why bother”, “what’s the point?” and “not very hot cross bunny”.

Peel or no peel?

The question that divides hot cross bunsters nationwide. Some of you may ask, “what’s peel?” It’s a fair question considering how difficult it is to find a bun with peel in it these days. Peel is the orange or lemon rind that gives fruit bread and buns their sour zing - the bit you see some kids and adults picking out.

Our online member poll revealed 78% prefer traditional fruit buns. Of the 78% of members polled 58% prefer no peel while 42% are peel lovers.

Australia's hot cross bun mad

Bakers across the country are gearing up for a busy run this Easter. In 2010 Coles sold an astonishing 28 million hot cross buns across the country during the Easter period, while Bakers Delight sold 13 million. That’s more than the population of Australia. According to Bakers Delight this is their busiest time of year, with the Thursday before Good Friday being the peak. They estimate they will sell 2.5 million on this day alone. Just goes to show chocolate eggs aren’t the only stars at Easter.

But it’s not just the big supermarkets and chains that are in on the act. It seems every bakery across the country will be filled with the smell of fruit and cinnamon. “This really is such a massive event for bakers.” Says National Baking Industry Association’s General Manager, Paul McDonald, “Generally, a typical bakery will produce around 60 dozen buns throughout the Easter period, with much larger mid-sized plant bakeries producing up to 12,000 dozen in the months prior and freezing them to ensure supply”.

A large chain may go through 480 tonnes of dried fruit and 180 tonnes of choc chips each year.

The introduction of the choc cross bun means that you can now combine your two favourite things about Easter – chocolate and buns. We’ve been told the average choc chip hot cross bun contains around 100 choc chips!

As reflected in our taste test, choc cross buns, while popular, still can’t out-do the traditional hot cross bun. According to Bakers Delight 66% of the buns they sell are traditional, with chocolate coming in second at 22%. A new introduction into the market, mocha gets a small 7%, while the unpopular fruit free come in at 5%.



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