Let's get one thing straight: supermarkets and bakery chain hot cross buns don't compare favourably with the artisan product. They are, however, a much more affordable option, with an entire pack of six or nine costing about the same as a single one from an artisan bakery or cafe. If you choose to go down this path, be sure to toast your buns or brown them under the grill – it will add structure, bring out the spices and, in some cases, melt the chocolate.
Bakers Delight Traditional Hot Cross Bun
$1.40 each or 6 for $7
Bakers Delight is a notch above the supermarkets when it comes to hot cross buns. The chain's processes ensure they're consistent so you always know what you're in for: an easy-to-eat, slightly chewy bun that resembles a pimped bread roll with added sweetness, a lot of cinnamon and an average amount of fruit. Bonus points for smelling like childhood.
Woolworths Hot Cross Bun Mini made with Cadbury Chocolate
Nine for $3.50
It's fairly ridiculous that you can buy nine hot cross buns for $3.50, especially when they're teeming with Cadbury chocolate chips. There's almost as much chocolate as there is dough in these buns, which are mysteriously large considering they're dubbed "mini". Sure, they're soft, but they have little to no structure and cause a pretty serious sugar rush. Good for a special treat, unless you have diabetes.
ALDI Fruit Hot Cross Buns
6 regular or 9 mini for $2.99
The Baker's Life buns at ALDI are pretty good looking as far as supermarket buns go, with a slick shine and well-formed white cross. They're generous in fruit but taste a whole lot like flour; their doughy texture wedging itself stubbornly at the roof of one's mouth.
6 for $3.50
This year, Coles is going all out and offering apple and cinnamon, dark chocolate and orange and even gluten-free hot cross buns, as well as traditional fruit-filled ones. We tried the traditional HCBs and, well… they were fine. If these were the only hot cross buns you ever ate, you'd probably be perfectly happy with them. With a fluffy, bread-like texture and a decent handful of currants, these are the best of the supermarket bunch.
6 for $3.49
These big, uniformly square buns commit multiple hot cross bun sins – they're heavy in your hand but have a crumb-like texture that disintegrates after a few chews, not unlike Wonder White. Their scent isn't of cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger, but simply of yeast.