You can buy hot cross buns any time from Boxing Day but it definitely feels better to eat them as Easter approaches. And they'll always taste better if you buy them from independent bakers.
Sourdough hot cross buns are definitely A Thing in 2021. For the first time, Berkelo has added sourdough mother to its HCBs for that extra tang, while a honey glaze heightens their sweetness. Also flavoured with anise myrtle tea. Six for $21.
Shop 2, 577 Military Road, Mosman. Also available at Brookvale, Manly and Mona Vale stores.
Whether it's focaccia, a rhubarb turnover or maple sourdough scroll, everything that comes out of the wood-fired oven here is magic. Cherry Moon uses heritage flour from Wholegrain Milling in its sourdough hot cross buns, a riot of wattleseed, raspberry and chocolate. $5 each or six for $26.
77 Nelson Street, Annandale
Andrew Bowden begins soaking fruit for his brioche HCBs in December, using brandy, whisky, Campari and whatever else is left over from Christmas. Saga's buns are steamed before baking for extra fluffiness and feature a super sticky glaze of cardamom, cloves, orange peel, star anise and smoked almonds. $4.50 each.
178 Enmore Road, Enmore
Chef Katie Choi is making lighter-style hot cross buns for Pina and its big brother cafe Room Ten. "I think adding a little less fruit makes a fluffier bun," she says, noting currants, sultanas and peel are all still present. "I pour a hot stock of orange zest, star anise, cinnamon and clove on the currants and sultanas and soak for 12 hours to get them plump." Also featuring a glaze shiny with molasses and golden syrup. Six for $24. Call or text 0432 445 342 to order.
Shop 4, 29 Orwell Street, Potts Point
Newtown's most charming bakery is all about cinnamon hot cross scrolls this Easter. Brioche is layered with butter, continuously folded into the pastry for three hours to achieve ultimate flakiness. Sugar is infused with native ginger grown in Flour Drum's backyard, and the candied orange is house-made. $5 each or four for $16.
531 King Street, Newtown
Black Star Pastry
Sydney's strawberry-watermelon cake kings have been marinating orange peel all year in preparation for their hot cross buns, now available in Melbourne for the first time at Black Star's St Kilda outpost. All hail the fragrant frankincense glaze. $4.50 each or six for $25.
113 Dunning Avenue, Rosebery. Also available at Sydney CBD, Moore Park and Newtown stores.
Gelato wizards at Messina have created an Easter snack pack of epic proportions. Part one is a hot cross snail featuring dough enriched with choc chips, vanilla custard and cinnamon malt caramel. It's made to be finished in the home oven and topped with part two: a one-litre triple-choc gelato tub starring Ecuadorian cocoa and toasted white chocolate mousse. Cue the couch and streaming service of your choice. Serves six for $65. Pre-order at gelatomessina.com for pick-up April 1-4.