Daily Bread

Denizen’s definitive guide to the best hot cross buns in town

It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it. We’ve eaten our way through a hefty selection of some of the best hot cross buns in town in order to determine the specific composition of each one and, in turn, guide you to choose the best bun for your tastes. From fruit ratio to texture; crust thickness to whether we think the bun is better toasted or untoasted, we’ve made sure to meticulously chart the strengths of each.

We also held a poll over on our Instagram stories to determine how the rest of you like to eat your buns, and the results were illuminating. 91 percent of you prefer your buns toasted, and 76 percent are fans of a traditional, fruit-filled bun. Light and fluffy was preferred by 69 percent (which still means 31 percent loved a dense bun) and the favourite topping was butter, by a long shot. People’s choice for the best bun in town went to Daily Bread, followed closely by The Pantry at Park Hyatt, then Baker’s Delight and Ima.

Now, without further ado, we present our findings for you to peruse and, with two weeks to go until Easter, we suggest you stock the pantry.

From left: 4&20 Bakery traditional hot cross buns; White chocolate and raspberry buns with raspberry butter

4&20 Bakery
This Remuera bakery’s buns are ultra-soft, fluffy and sticky, and the traditional flavour is heavily spiced with cardamom, with citrus and mint notes. While the dough is quite sweet, they are coated with an espresso glaze leaving an aromatic, bittersweet finish. If raisins aren’t your cup of tea, 4&20’s white chocolate and raspberry buns are a sweet-tooth’s dream, minus the dried fruit. Try either bun with the bakery’s vanilla bean or raspberry butter, which has a pleasant icing-like finish. 

Traditional flavour fruit ratio: 40 percent
Texture: Soft and fluffy but not super light
Crust: Soft
Serving suggestion: Untoasted

Amano

Amano
Amano bakery’s hot cross buns are generously-sized and well-risen, and the sourdough lends them a dark, almost brown bread quality. They are perfect for those who love a fairly dense bun with a generous amount of fruit, and are not overly sweet or glazed, instead drawing a wholesome sweetness from the raisins and citrus peel. Because of their sturdy texture, we love these buns toasted with (of course) a hearty spreading of salted butter.

Fruit ratio: 40 percent
Texture: Dense
Crust: Slightly firm
Serving suggestion: Toasted

Bread & Butter
Bread & Butter’s hot cross buns are organic, and made with a long fermentation time which results in a deliciously subtle flavour and moist texture. Studded with a dried fruit medley that includes raisins, apricots, currants and cranberries, these buns are delicious yet not overly complicated, making them all the more addictive both fresh and toasted.

Fruit ratio: 25 percent
Texture: Bready and soft
Crust: More soft than firm
Serving suggestion: Toasted

Daily Bread

Daily Bread 
While Daily Bread’s buns are also made with sourdough, they are light and fluffy while still retaining the lovely complexity of flavour that sourdough brings. This year the team has used a technique called Lievito Madre, a sourdough process similar to that used for a panettone loaf, which gives that lightness without any additives. This year’s coconut sugar glaze is orange and cinnamon, lending a lovely glossiness and sweetness that’s not overpowering. 

Fruit ratio: 20 percent
Texture: Light and fluffy
Crust: Slightly firm
Serving suggestion: Untoasted

Fort Greene

Fort Greene
Fort Greene also uses a sourdough starter for its Easter morsels which only makes sense as the bakery is renowned for its loaves. Fort Greene’s rendition tastes somewhat more rustic rather than saccharine with stronger flavours of yeast and a mix of spices, and sweetness derived mainly from a dense packing of fruit. The thick crust has an extra crunch (similar to an actual loaf of sourdough), and the addition of candied rind lends a zesty and citrusy element.

Fruit ratio: 30-35 percent
Texture: Soft
Crust: Firm
Serving suggestion: Untoasted

Huckleberry

Huckleberry
Huckleberry’s buns are both vegan and organic, meaning they’re better for you and the planet. A humble yet delicious bun, these are great for the whole family including children as they don’t have an overpowering sugary hit, instead deriving a natural sweetness from raisins and peel scattered (not too heavily) throughout the dough. They’re lightly spiced, and are the type of hot cross bun that makes for a wholesome snack at any time of the day.

Fruit ratio: 10 percent
Texture: Bready but not too dense
Crust: More soft than firm
Serving suggestion: Toasted

Ima

Ima
Yael Schochat’s buns are famous in Auckland for their heavy, dense consistency and indulgent custard cross. The Ima team haven’t changed a thing this year, and why fix something if it ain’t broke? Jam-packed with candied fruit-peel, currants and sultanas, these buns should always be enjoyed toasted so the butter seeps into the dense bread and the custard is warmed and caramelised. 

Fruit ratio: 45 percent
Texture: Dense
Crust: Custard-laden
Serving suggestion: Toasted

Little & Friday

Little & Friday
Little & Friday’s buns are also quite dense and filling, arriving as a generously-sized disc that sits somewhere between very risen and flat. These beauties have a high rind content among the raisins and sultanas, a more spiced dough than some others we tried and while they look nice and shiny they aren’t overly sticky on top. The crust is thick and the cross is crunchy, giving these a nice chew.

Fruit ratio: 45 percent
Texture: Dense
Crust: Firm
Serving suggestion: Toasted

Miann’s chocolate hot cross buns

Miann
Miann’s hot cross buns are glorious indeed. The traditional flavour contains raisins soaked in a muscovado and orange syrup for two weeks, and the Miann team have created their own spice mix which they think makes the difference. The chocolate flavour is unmissable, using chocolate that they make from cacao sourced in Fiji. These buns are light and soft rather than dense, great for having with butter or — for a next level treat — a scoop of gelato sandwiched in between.

Fruit ratio: 20 percent
Texture: Soft and fluffy
Crust: Soft
Serving suggestion: Untoasted

Olaf’s

Olaf’s
Olaf’s hot cross buns are a must for lovers of a traditional hot cross bun with not too many bells and whistles. Deliciously light when fresh, they have a good amount of sweetness in the dough and from the glaze but it’s not overpowering. Lightly spiced and studded with raisins, you can’t go wrong with a classic. They also do a chocolate version (sans fruit) which is more moist and doughy, and the chocolate has a slight bitterness which means they’re not too sweet. Olaf’s cranberry bun is slightly more fruit-forward than the traditional, but with the same dough.

Fruit ratio: 24 percent
Texture: Soft
Crust: More soft than firm
Serving suggestion: Untoasted

Real Bread Project

Real Bread Project
Daniel Cruden, AKA Dan The Baker (formerly head baker at Amano), has done it again this year with his bready buns. Rustic and quite dark, these sourdough buns are perfect for those who don’t like their crossies overly sweet, with sweetness derived from the fruit and not too much of a glaze. They are extremely risen and puffy, and the sourdough takes on an addictive crunch when toasted.

Fruit ratio: 15 percent
Texture: Bready
Crust: Slightly firm
Serving suggestion: Toasted

Ripe Deli

Ripe Deli
Fans of orange and cranberry, Ripe Deli’s sweet, moist buns are for you. Pleasingly doughy and quite weighty, these buns still manage to not be too gluggy or dense and have quite a generous amount of fruit within. We suggest topping with Ripe’s orange maple butter, which has a deliciously indulgent icing-on-the-cake effect.

Fruit ratio: 20 percent
Texture: Moist and doughy
Crust: More soft than firm
Serving suggestion: Untoasted

Tart

Tart Bakery
This was our first time tasting vegan bakery Tart’s buns, and we were extremely impressed. With a generous fruit ratio, these buns were quite wide and flat but were still light. The crust was something special, nice and caramelised on the top and bottom with a good amount of chew, and the buns had a nice level of sweetness with a little saltiness. They recommend it served with their cinnamon schnapps ‘butter’, but we’re going to risk sacrilege by saying we preferred them with dairy butter. A great option for plant-based eaters, and you truly can’t even tell they’re vegan. 

Fruit ratio: 30 percent
Texture: Light with nice chew
Crust: Firm
Serving suggestion: Untoasted

From left: The Pantry’s traditional hot cross buns; Chocolate hot cross buns

The Pantry — Park Hyatt
Another new entry to the list, we’ve already waxed lyrical on pastry chef Callum Liddicoat’s creations for Park Hyatt Auckland’s The Pantry, and we’d do it all again. These buns are gourmet without being over-the-top, with a low fruit ratio that is made up of quite a bit of rind. Soft, bread-like but very light, these buns are some of the best we’ve tried, and Liddicoat has also whipped up a moreish mānuka honey and sea salt butter to accompany them. The chocolate version is just as well-crafted, with a rich, chocolatey flavour and pieces of ginger.

Fruit ratio: 15 percent
Texture: Bready yet light
Crust: More soft than firm
Serving suggestion: Toasted

Wild Wheat

Wild Wheat
Arguably the most aesthetically pleasing of the bunch, Wild Wheat’s hot cross buns boast a perfect circle shape and the cross has been oh-so carefully piped on top. The outer casing is thick, giving the bun a slight chewiness while protecting the soft centre. The cloudy texture makes these buns just as enjoyable fresh as they are toasted, with lashings of butter

Fruit ratio: 40 percent
Texture: Light and fluffy
Crust: Firm
Serving suggestion: Untoasted

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