Each year, the CHOICE team rev up their taste buds for the annual hot cross bun sampling to crown the ultimate winners of the best Hot Cross Buns in Australia (oh, what a tough job!).
This year, CHOICE categorised the Easter buns into a number of different flavour categories, including traditional fruit, chocolate and apple and cinnamon.
The overall standout winner this year is (dah, dah, dah, daaaahhhhh) Coles, who topped the list in an expert taste test of 21 different hot cross buns – covering traditional, chocolate, apple and cinnamon, and gluten free varieties from Coles, Woolworths, Aldi and IGA, plus Bakers Delight and Costco.
“Coles was clearly the winner in our testing this year, with their hot cross buns coming first in both the chocolate and traditional fruit categories,” said CHOICE food journalist, Rachel Clemons.
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“Our experts blind taste tested all 21 hot cross buns, and scored them on flavour, appearance, aroma and texture. We set up our experts in the CHOICE kitchen lab and provided them with the hot cross bun samples in a randomised order, which is different for each expert. Our experts have over 80 years experience in the food industry between them, so they’re the perfect people to test out these Easter treats,” said Clemons.
The winners of the yummiest traditional fruit hot cross buns
There are so many creative and crazy variants of hot cross buns hitting the shelf (remember the lamington version?). But when it comes down to the crunch (or should I say soft bite), our favourite pick is always the classic hot cross bun studded with sultanas.
Coles Traditional Fruit Hot Cross Buns
($0.58 per bun or $3.50 per 6-pack)
CHOICE Expert Rating: 80%
“Even cross, good colour, shiny! Bouncy texture. Quite a lot of fruit. Great balanced mouth feel and flavour. A nice hot cross bun (despite its slightly odd shape). I like it!”
Aldi Specially Selected Traditional Fruit Hot Cross Buns
($0.75 per bun or $2.99 per 4-pack)
CHOICE Expert Rating: 79%
“Attractive bun, well made dough, it gives when squeezed and bounces back. Well baked. Good texture and distribution of fruit. Good size and shape with an even cross. Great balance of flavour. Intense ginger aroma.”
Bakers Delight Traditional Fruit Hot Cross Buns
($1.33 per bun or $8.00 per 6-pack / $1.70 if bought indivdually)
CHOICE Expert Rating: 78%
“This product represents a typical hot cross bun. Good shape and size and texture inside and out. Great aroma. Nicely proven. Quite savoury, slightly salty.”
The Top Pick Of the Chocolate Hot Cross Buns
Hot cross buns studded with chocolate instead of fruit are fast becoming a household favourite.
Coles Chocolate Hot Cross Buns
($0.58 per bun $3.50 per 6-pack)
CHOICE Expert Rating: 84%
“Great appearance, domed and tall. Bouncy, soft texture. Good, chocolatey aroma. Moist. Good chocolate hit – lots of choc chips evident. Easy eating product.”
Other notable chocolate buns were from Bakers Delight (rated 75%) followed closely by Woolworths Cadbury Chocolate buns (74%)
The Best Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Bun
Hmmm…apple pie crossed with hot cross buns – this is a true taste sensation.
But it looks like the bakeries are still way off from getting the flavour combination right.
Only one bun made CHOICE’s recommended list with a CHOICE Expert Rating of 70%.
Woolworths Indulgent Apple & Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns
($0.88 per bun or $3.50 per 4-pack)
CHOICE Expert Rating: 70%
“Light baked colour. Good even, thin cross. Bouncy texture. Spotted with cinnamon which looks good. Fruit is evident but chopped small, but the apple flavour is there.”
Coles and Baker’s Delight limped behind the leader with a CHOICE rating of 65% and 64% respectively.
Top Scoring Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns
We know gluten-free baking is traditionally tricky and it looks like there is still some work to do on the anti-gluten front.
The CHOICE team tested gluten-free traditional fruit and chocolate offerings from Coles and Woolworths but noted that “generally speaking the gluten-free buns scored poorly compared with regular versions.”
The winner, however, was Coles Chocolate I’m Free From Gluten Wheat & Dairy, with a CHOICE Expert Rating of 60%.
Make Your Own Hot Cross Buns
Why don’t you make your own hot cross buns this Easter? We reckon they’ll even be better than the top store-bought ones.
Or else make these scrumptious Double Hot Choc Cross Buns.
Which are your best hot cross buns? Tell us in the comments below.