THE hot cross bun has only a brief time to shine in the culinary calendar, overlooked by shoppers for the majority of the year.
However, with the first signs of spring in the air and the season of Lent well under way and marking the countdown to Easter, the buns with the unmistakable pastry X on top are lining the shelves.
With that in mind Wigan Evening Post reporters Andrew Nowell and Rachel Howarth took time to try out the high street’s offerings to ensure Wiganers make the most of this year’s hot cross bun season.
First to step up to the plate is the Co-op’s bun, which tries to make up for a poor current-to-dough ratio with bread nicely spiced with subtle citrus flavouring to add a pleasant tang.
The Co-op’s hot cross bun is a rather heavy and doughy consistency but does have an impressive amount of spice and a strong taste of cinnamon, which will sound ideal to some palates but not to others.
Next up is Tesco, whose offering ticks all the boxes when it comes to the currant count and has bread which is moister than the Co-op.
However, the product is by no means perfect, as Rachel said some of the fruit had a slightly bitter taste and Andrew found a corner where the currant had made the dough unpleasantly soggy and was not all that taken with a rather savoury, soda-type flavour to the bun.
With the supermarkets’ offerings considered, it is time to head on to see if the bakeries can compete in our search for the perfect Easter treat.
Next on to the plate is Greggs, which is a complete change from the Tesco buns and the palest of the sampled creations by some distance.
This is much more like a bread in taste but also probably the sweetest bun in the test. There are not too many currants in there but that doesn’t seem to detract from the fruity flavour, and there are bits of citrus too.
Rachel also gave the Greggs bun high praise, declaring it a contender for the title thanks to its plump, juicy currants and suggesting it is the ideal choice for Wiganers with a sweet tooth.
Lastly we sampled the Poundbakery’s hot cross buns, which secure an immediate brownie point with their attractive appearance and rich, dark colour.
The exterior is pleasantly sticky and the dough has an almost cake-like texture while remaining nice and crumbly.
It also has an attractively sweet aroma, a mild citrus flavour running through the dough and an abundance of currants.
So, having sampled all the competition, which bun comes out on top and tantalises the Wigan Evening Post’s tastebuds?
The second-place verdict reveals a split in preferences, with Rachel opting for the sweeter Greggs bun as her runner-up for getting the sugary edge on its rivals and blending plenty of currants with citrus zest.
Andrew, on the other hand, gave the silver medal award to the Co-op’s hot cross buns with their lashings of cinnamon and filling texture.
The final decision is an easy one, with the Poundbakery’s offering standing a clear head above the rest of the field and being declared the unanimous winner.
So Wiganers looking to grab a spicy, fruity treat this Easter can keep a few pennies in their pocket at the same time by heading down to the local Poundbakery.