After trying a ridiculous amount of traditional hot cross buns every year, i finally decided I should create a list of my favourites. In an attempt at keeping the playing field even I have compared buns cooked fresh that day, eaten the same morning with butter, at room temperature (not hot out of the oven), and not toasted. Please note this list is focussing on traditional buns, no chocolate, not scrolls, no ice cream etc.
Choosing the top three was a very hard decision, I've changed the order around many times, I guess what I'm trying to say is don't miss out on trying the top three, and make your own decision, in fact let me know in which order you preferred them.
#1 - Brickfields Bakery (206 Cleveland Street, Chippendale 2008)
These sourdough hot cross buns are full of fruit (cranberries, raisins), spice (cardamom, and Sri Lankan cinnamon), candied peel, and covered with a sticky sweet syrup. What sets these apart is a delicious citrus flavour, perfectly offsetting the sweetness. They are well balanced between dense and fluffy, and are consistently great.
#2 - Organic Bread Bar (356 South Dowling Street, Paddington 2021)
Three days ago I tried me first OBB's hot cross bun, that first bite was such a surprise. I have been back every day since to quench my cravings. Im not normally a huge "glaze" fan, but their honey and lemon glaze is light and unobtrusive, yet delicious and the perfect compliment to their bun. A bun filled with plump, juicy, flavoursome organic fruit, whilst balancing between dense and fluffy.
*note: 3A and 3B have been categorised this way as they are incredibly similar recipes. If you are on a budget select one of the two establishments and you'll be fine. Or if you are a hot cross bun connoisseur you could try both and let me know what subtle differences you noticed.
#3A - One More Chocolate & Confections (Shop 4/89-97 New Canterbury Rd, Petersham 2049)
Perfect balance of dense and fluffy, filled with port soaked raisins, this is a hot cross bun you won't want to share. Topped with a custard creme patissiere, which adds flavour and makes for an extremely moist hot cross bun.
#3B - Sweet Belem (35B New Canterbury Road, Petersham 2049)
As mentioned in the above "note" these buns are very similar to One More Chocolates' (3A), I found the bun to have less spice though it than their neighbour, everything else seemed to be comparable including the delicious custard creme patissiere cross.
#4 - Saga (178 Enmore Road, Enmore 2042)
Sagas' famous Brioche hot cross buns are steamed before baking for extra fluffiness and feature a super sticky glaze of cardamom, cloves, orange peel, star anise and smoked almonds. Rumour has it Andy starts soaking his fruit in a concoction of spirits as early as December, I guess we should expect no less.
#5 - La Renaissance (47 Argyle Street, The Rocks 2000)
Classic brioche hot cross bun, excellent flavour, with a fair amount of fruit. The texture is a good balance between dense and fluffy, leaning closer to dense. There are no bells and whistles or x factors here, just a fantastic classic style hot cross bun.
#6 - Humble Bakery (50 Holt Street, Surry Hills 2010)
What i like best about Humble's hot cross bun is the amount of spice throughout the dough, one might joke they emptied the spice rack into the dough mixture. Texture is leaning towards dense but moist, almost similar to Sagas indulgent buttery bun. If anything I would like more fruit, but regardless its a solid entry to Sydney's hot cross bun scene.
#7 - Berkelo (Brookvale, Manly, Mosman, Mona Vale)
This sourdough recipe contains dates, currants, apples, anise myrtle tea, along with a mixture of spices. What elevated this hot cross bun was its unique spice flavour.
Hot Cross Bun Care
* Hot cross buns are always best eaten fresh, if possible still warm from the oven. However this is not always achievable, I suggest wrapping the buns in cling wrap, and or placing them in an air tight container. Keeping them in the paper bag they are served in often ends in a dry bun.
* For those that buy way too many hot cross buns (me), you can freeze the buns, and defrost prior to eating by toasting them. This is a great way to enjoy these delicious Easter treats for a while longer.
Establishments visited in compiling this list; Paddy the Baker, Blackstar, Cherry Moon, Sonoma, Bourke Street Bakery, Pina, Infinity, Vics Meat, Penny Fours, Cook and Baker, Pig and Pastry, Tuga, Breadfern, Raffael's Bakery, Nonies Bakery, Textbook Patisserie, Little Lord Cafe, Shepards, All Purpose Bakery, Goose Bakery, Coles, Woolworths, Bakers Delight. (Brickfields, Organic Bread Bar, Sweet Belem, One More Chocolate & Confections, Saga, La Renaissance, Humble Bakery, Berkelo)
Note: This is an independent review, food purchased was self funded by "Itd be rude not to".