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Wendy Hargreaves: 5 of the best hot cross buns

By WENDY HARGREAVES

Who can resist a hot cross bun? Warmed through and slathered with butter, those little balls of spicy, fruity joy are such a popular Easter treat that they appear in supermarkets before we’ve finished the Christmas leftovers.

Now that it’s April, and Easter is just a couple of weeks away, it’s time to get serious about the best buns in town. Melbourne has some seriously good bakers on the spiced bun case. Here are five of my favourites, with a few honourable mentions.

BURNHAM BEECHES BAKERY

1 Sherbrooke Rd, Sherbrooke, (03) 9691 3858
These are hot cross buns for the purists out there, with lots of zesty fruit and a generous amount of spice ($4.50 each or six for $24). Perhaps they taste better after taking the trek to Shannon Bennett’s picture-perfect bakery next to the run-down former mansion of the Nicholas family of the Aspro dynasty (now the art installation of street artist Rone). But back to the buns… they also make a tasty bun with organic spelt and cranberry (pictured) and a super-rich Valhrona cocoa powder version choc full of Callebaut chocolate chips ($5 each or $27 for six). The not-too-sweet glaze puts both buns on top.

AGATHÉ PATISSERIE

2 South Melbourne Market, Aisle B, Coventry St, South Melbourne, 0403 222 573
With buttery brioche as the base, these buns might stray from the traditional, but they crack a mention for their rich taste and warm spices with plump sultanas and a lovely chew ($4 each). While you’re there, grab one of Agathé Kerr’s macadamia and milk chocolate croissants. Just because.

RUSTICA

3 402 Brunswick St, Fitzroy, (03) 9417 7775
Choux pastry plays a big brole in these buns, making them extra soft with plump juicy fruit. The service is always fast and friendly too.

PHILLIPPAS

4 1030 High St, Armadale and other outlets, (03) 9576 2020
These traditional slow-fermented sourdough buns are given that extra va-va-voom with Phillippa Grogan’s freshly-ground secret spice mix and old-school house-made candied orange peel sourced from local farmers’ markets ($4 each). These buns are best served lightly toasted (with lashings of salted butter).

RED BEARD BAKERY

5 Wolff Ln, Trentham, 03 5424 1002
Red Beard Bakery’s hot cross buns are baked in a huge 19th century Scotch oven in one of the prettiest towns in Victoria’s central highlands. And the buns are made the old-fashioned way, with slow-fermented sourdough and local ingredients. Toast them and serve with cold butter.

HONORABLE MENTIONS

Q le Baker
Prahran Market, 63 Commercial Rd, South Yarra
Using local organic sun-dried fruit soaked in house-made ginger beer, this bun is super juicy with a fluffy edge, with a lovely tang from the peel.

Baker D Chirico
149 Fitzroy St, St Kilda + 178 Faraday St, Carlton, 9534 3777
Consistently good year after year, the Baker D buns are as tasty as they are beautiful.

Mork
150 Errol St, North Melbourne
Chocolate fans take note. Mork’s triple-choc hot cross buns are loaded with fresh spices, candied orange zest, plump local currants and sour cherries, with an oozy chocolate and orange ganache centre.

Dench Bakers
109 Scotchmer St, Fitzroy North
This little sourdough bun is made with organic stoneground unbleached wheat flour and Australian fruit, with a special spice blend that keeps customers coming back year after year.

Wendy writes online at 5ofthebest.com

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