Bill Bennett

Bill Bennett

Hot Cross Buns Auckland 2023

By accident more than design I managed to sample a wide variety of Hot Cross Buns from Auckland bakers and supermarkets. There’s no science here, just an aficionado’s tasting notes.

The best all round buns I tasted so far in 2023 are from the Wild Wheat outlet on Hinemoa Street in Birkenhead. They are made sour dough style, have plenty of fruit and are well spiced.

They are somewhat puddingy, not that this was a real word until ten minutes ago. You could, at a pinch, warm them a little and eat them with cream or custard for dessert. I sometimes eat them with blue cheese, it’s an unlikely sounding combination that could change your life.

From memory they cost around $15 (sorry, I should have taken notes) for half a dozen. I found they last the longest and are excellent toasted.

My other favourite buns are from Ott Patisserie at the start of Birkenhead Avenue. Somehow the baker has managed to give them a different flavour without departing too far from tradition. It just works.

The buns are lighter in colour and in composition, you could even say delicate when comparing them with Wild Wheat’s robust buns. They are also lighter on the pocket. Half a dozen costs $10.

At $22 for half a dozen, Daily Bread’s Belmont shop has the most expensive hot cross buns I’ve seen this year. They are excellent, although as my Dad used to say: at that price they ought to be.

Like Wild Wheat’s buns, they are sour dough based and have plenty of spice and fruit. While I like the look and texture of Daily Bread’s buns, I prefer the taste of Wild Wheat and Ott’s offerings.

The other notable hot cross bun I tasted was New World Birkenhead’s non-traditional brioche style buns. These are quite different in look and taste. Despite that, they still feel like real hot cross buns. At $4.50 for six they are a bargain. Last year I used a pack to make a terrific bread and butter pudding.

The Hot Cross Buns from the Birkenhead Bakers Delight shop were among my least favourite buns. In terms of taste they are on a par with everyday supermarket buns, but at $12 for half a dozen they are more than twice the price.

There is nothing wrong with them. All the buns tested here are perfectly acceptable. They taste fine, but the are neither exciting nor in any way remarkable. In contrast, all the buns mentioned earlier are special.

The everyday Hot Cross Buns from New World are not at all bad. At $4.50 for half a dozen they are a fine alternative if the supermarket is out of the brioche buns. A $4.70 pack of six everyday hot cross buns from the Pak’n Save supermarket on Lincoln Road were the most ordinary tasting buns. They had less fruit, less intense spice and more of a soft roll feel.

Looking at the prices, Daily Bread’s buns are one and a half times the price of Wild Wheat’s, more than twice the price of Ott’s and close to five times the price of New World’s. They’re good, but there’s no way they are five times as good. I’d certainly make the trip back to Ott or Wild Wheat for a luxury treat.