The first thing that strikes us about these buns is how well-risen and fluffy they are. The second is the wave of spice that hits when we take a bite. These are sweeter than the other buns and it seems like there's a lot more nutmeg in the spice mix. But they just sing with Easter flavour and mixed spice. These are definitely the best for capturing the traditional spirit of the hot cross bun and they are gorgeous.
Location: 9/18 Whyalla Street, Fyshwick
The Flute Bakery
These are very attractive, well-glazed with golden crosses on top. There's a fair amount of spice and quite a lot of raisins. The buns are fluffy and soft, and have the delicious buttery colour and texture of brioche. They're quite restrained in flavour compared to Dream Cuisine but are still a really lovely golden hot cross bun.
Location: 8 Barrier Street, Fyshwick
These have a crisp outer shell all round, so they're crunchy at first bite. The crumb is pretty good inside and there are nice chunks of citrus peel mixed in with the fruit. And there's a sweet glaze over the top of the buns. But they are a tad expensive.
Location: 15 Edinburgh Avenue, New Acton
Whisk does beautifully soft buns, perhaps the most fluffy of the lot that we've tried. There's less spice flavour than the hot cross buns from Dream Cuisine, but they're nicely dotted through with raisins and sultanas. And they are definitely good value for money at just $1.50 each. A nice find if you live in the Woden area.
Location: 25 Altree Crescent, Phillip
These are sourdough hot cross buns and they are big creatures. They're pretty good value for money because they're so solid. They're also distinctive - the cross on top of the bun is almost hidden under a drift of icing sugar. But the sourdough flavour mixed with the hot cross bun spice isn't to everyone's taste, and the buns are a little doughy.
6 Iluka Street, Narrabundah
These, like A. Baker's buns, are a little crustier than you'd expect from a traditional hot cross bun. They've got lots of fruit and a fair mix of spice. A nice neighbourhood bakery bun.
Location: 1/40 Mort Street, Braddon
$5.50 for 6
Soft and spicy is the way to describe these buns. They're not quite as fruity as some of the other buns tested, but they're also a bargain at $5.50 for a half-dozen. Plus they do chocolate chip hot cross buns. (In an earlier edition we incorrectly stated the buns were $2 a half dozen - our mistake, our apologies).
Location: 68 Comrie Street, Wanniassa
These are the most fruit-filled of the buns we've tried, positively bursting with golden raisins and sultanas. There's a good amount of spice mixed through and the hot cross buns look delightful. If you're one of those people who like their Christmas cake to be more fruit than cake, this is the hot cross bun for you.
Location: 36 Giles Street, Kingston
For buns with a difference
Not all of us want a traditional hot cross bun - and not all of us can stomach it. Here are some alternatives:
Gluten and grain-free hot cross buns
Deeks Bakery and Cafe reckons they have the "world's first" grain- and gluten-free hot cross buns. These are made from quinoa, tapioca and soy flour. Let's be honest, they're harder and more bitey than your wheat-filled, soft bakery bun - but they're a lot better for your tummy if you're intolerant. $8.50 for 4.
Pearce Shops, 70 Hodgson Crescent, Pearce; Dickson Place, Dickson
Hot cross bun ice-cream
Ice-cream store Stripey Sundae at Nicholls is offering a hot cross bun flavour made locally by Frugii. It's available in store. And Gelatissimo has got a hot cross bun gelato in the mix this year.
Stripey Sundae, 11 O'Hanlon Place, Gold Creek; Gelatissimo, Canberra Centre, city; 18 Flinders Way, Manuka; Westfield Shopping Centre, Belconnen.
The inventive folk at Ricardo's don't play by the rules - just check out their self-injected jam doughnuts and cronuts. This time they're doing hot cross bun-flavoured macarons that are bound to be a hit.
Ricardo's, Jamison Plaza, Bowman Street, Macquarie.
Hot cross buns
Maybe all these hot cross buns have got you itching to head into the kitchen. If you want to fully embrace, the Easter spirit, why not try making your own hot cross buns? These are warm and comforting and the recipe can easily be doubled if you're feeling ambitious.
80g castor sugar
60ml (¼ cup) warm water
7g (2 tsp) dried yeast
125ml (½ cup) lukewarm milk
35g butter, melted
410g (2¾ cups) plain flour
2 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp ground cloves
1 tsp salt
105g (⅔ cup) currants
120g (⅔ cup) raisins
40g (¼ cup) mixed peel (mixed candied citrus peel)
1 egg, whisked
1 tsp natural vanilla extract
2 tbsp plain flour
115g (⅓ cup) apricot jam
Combine a pinch of the sugar and the warm water in a large bowl. Sprinkle over the yeast, then set aside for seven or eight minutes or until foamy.
Add half the milk, half the melted butter and 110 grams (three quarters of a cup) of the flour and stir until smooth and combined.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
Combine the remaining sugar, spices, salt, dried fruits and mixed peel in a bowl. Stir into the yeast mixture with the egg, vanilla and the remaining milk and butter. Add the remaining flour and mix until a coarse dough forms.
Turn out on a lightly floured work surface and knead for five or six minutes or until the dough is soft, smooth and elastic.
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, turning to coat in the oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for one hour or until doubled in size. Knock back the dough with just one punch to expel the air. Turn out on a clean work surface and use a large sharp knife to cut into eight equal portions.
Lightly grease a baking tray. Roll each portion of dough into a ball and place on the greased tray. Cover with a tea towel and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 1½ hours or until nearly doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 180C.
To make the decoration, combine the flour with two ½ tablespoons of water or enough to make a firm paste, beating with a wooden spoon until smooth. Place in a small piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and pipe a cross on top of each bun. Bake the buns for 20 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.
Put the jam and two tablespoons of water in a small saucepan over low heat and stir constantly for one or two minutes or until warm and combined. Pass through a sieve, then use a pastry brush to brush over the buns.