Hot cross buns taste test - which are our favourites?

Hot cross buns tried and tested by Andrew Nowell
Hot cross buns tried and tested by Andrew Nowell

If there’s one food that is immediately associated with Easter, it has to be the good old hot cross bun.

But with supermarket and bakery shelves positively groaning with sweet spiced buns bearing the distinctive Christian sign on top, which should Wiganers pick?

In the name of comprehensive research (it’s a tough job but someone has to do it) we gathered some of the alternatives at Wigan Post Towers for an in-depth taste test.

First out of the packet were those from the Poundbakery, who like many other food manufacturers at the moment are keen to tout their inclusive credentials by letting everyone know their hot cross buns are suitable for vegans.

The buns are nice and doughy and there are plenty of good-sized sultanas and raised dotted through. There’s a good level of sweetness to these, too, almost as though it’s a brioche or other kind of sweet bread. It’s quite buttery and rich as well, which makes it nice and moist.

Tesco’s offering for Easter is rather different. These are a lot darker than some of the others tested and rather resemble a toasted teacake.

Any fears that will result in a bun which is very heavy and claggy are fortunately unfounded. Instead it’s another tasty but perhaps somewhat unremarkable creation, with a decent amount of cinnamon ensuring it is a spiced bun as it should be and no skimping on the sultanas either.

I have been told they also toast quite well, as apparently that is what floats some people’s boats.

Next out of the packet was the offering from Lidl which are also quite sweet and fruity and again are lighter in both texture and taste than they first appear to be.

There’s a good amount of spice and fruit again in these and the sultanas and raisins are large and juicy, giving plenty of flavour.

The texture, on the whole, is more bready than doughy, but fortunately it is neither too chewy nor too dry.

Iceland are also getting in on the act, and although you get four not six for your £1 we tried their ‘luxury’ buns.

These largely went down well, with tasters enjoying the moistness of the dough, the generous amount of fruit and the good hint of spice, one going as far as calling them “delicious”. The fact they are quite large was also approvingly noted.

Lastly we moved up the price range a bit to see if Marks and Spencer’s hot cross buns lived up to paying a bit extra.

This had mixed results. Some tasters loved the stickiness of the dough, the high sweetness level and the hints of lemon and fruit peel as well as spice.

Others, though, thought they were too sticky and not worth shelling out more for.

This was a strong field with no poor entrants, but personally I’d consider going for those from Iceland and M&S.