What’s not to love about a doughy, spicy, fruity, buttery ball of joy, warmed to perfection in the toaster and slathered liberally with salted butter? Melbourne has a wealth of brilliant bakers, all of whom have been elbow-deep in flour, sugar and spice, perfecting their recipes for Easter. We’ve rounded up our favourite floury heroes below.
Melbourne's best hot cross buns
Wild Life Bakery specialises in 24-hour fermented loaves and their hot cross buns receive the same sourdough treatment. The dense, but airy bun is studded with candied orange, sultanas and currants, balanced by the presence of strong spices and finished with a sticky glaze. This bun is for hot cross bun fanatics who want to be punched in the face by the taste of Easter. No toasting required, butter non-negotiable.
Woodfrog Bakery specialises in uncompromised, naturally leavened, hand-shaped, sourdough breads, but it's the generosity of currants and sultanas, high tones of unintrusive citrus and soft interior that pushes this finely glazed bun to the top of the pile. Another plus is you won't need to order ahead to avoid disappointment as their production is plentiful across all branches.
These buns are of the sourdough nature, so expect a dense and complex bun. The Australian fruit is organic, the lemon and orange peel is candied in-house and a dark malt syrup adds lustre to the glaze. It’s only a few steps from Dench Bakers, putting Fitzroy North high on the bun-lover’s radar.
You must order ahead for these hot cross buns, as they usually disappear well before midday. These popular buns are on the softer side, studded with juicy raisins, sultanas and currants. The zesty spice mix is warmed up with cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, allspice and clove, which is a little more Christmas than Easter, but nevertheless delicious.
Brioche is the base of these hot cross beauties, so if you're a fan of a softer, richer bun spiked with warm spices, these are right up your alley. These may not be chock full of fruit, but the sultanas present are plump and juicy and don't distract from the bun itself. This is certainly an unconventional front-runner worth lining up for.
Orange and ginger purée flavour these sourdough buns, which are spiked with juicy currants. Rather than cooking up a new recipe each year, chef Dan's traditional Italian formula plays on repeat. Fair warning, though, these buns are on the hefty side, so if you're more used to a traditional treat, these benefit from a light toast.
Keep an eye out for their all-chocolate hot cross buns which are formed out of a partnership with Birdsnake, an all-ethical chocolatier, which doesn't contain any fruits or spices to distract from the chocolate.
Dense, chewy, flavoured headily with pureéd whole oranges and Australian vine fruits and spiced with a secret blend that includes – drum roll, please – coriander: Dench's hot cross buns are rightly famous and are best eaten the day of purchase.
This French boulangerie isn't too French to get in on the hot cross bun action for Easter. Tradition doesn't play a part in these buns, as they include a mix of mini dark chocolate chips and currants, which edge them closer to the confection side. A thick glaze kicks the sugar levels up, which means this bun benefits from a thick slab of butter. Not a bad thing, really.
Melbourne's best *not* cross buns
If croissants are the benchmark of a good patisserie, Agathé Kerr’s are among those that set the bar. In a most unconventional move, she's doctored up her recipe by putting a festive spin on the pain au chocolat by swapping out the dark chocolate for milk and adding a generous layer of crushed macadamia. Get in early at the market for these, because they're flying out the door.
If you believe that hot cross buns should not be toasted (a hotly contested topic for bun enthusiasts) then these are for you. Baker D Chirico has teamed up with the local, ethically sourced chocolate company Birdsnake, to produce a dark chocolate hot cross bun in a cocoa-rich sourdough base that balances out the sweetness of the chocolate. Get ready to line up for these if you believe that chocolate hot cross buns are just a socially acceptable breakfast delivery system for chocolate.