The origin of the hot cross bun is ambiguous. Some sources say they were developed by an Anglican monk in the 12th century. Others claim the ancient Greeks were marking cakes with a cross long before.
Regardless, one fact remains true: as each year passes, hot cross buns are creeping further from tradition into avant-garde territory.
Some aspects of a hot cross bun, as any reasonable person would agree, are non-negotiable. These include its moistness, fluffiness and a fair amount of spice.
Here are five alternative hot cross buns to try.
Triple Choc Mörk X Bun at Mörk Chocolate Brew House
Mörk has become synonymous with hot chocolate in this city. Co-founder Josefin Zernell’s Swedish heritage means she spent a large portion of her childhood sipping hot chocolate during Stockholm’s winters.
Hot cross buns, however, were absent from her childhood. This Easter Zernell decided to experiment.
“There are parts of traditional hot cross buns I like and wanted to expand on,” Zernell says.
“We’ve made a dough with our dark chocolate, intense cocoa powder, sour cherries, candied orange, and put ganache in the middle. We finish them with an orange glaze.
“The chocolate makes them so moist, it’s almost a cross between a bun and a cake.”
Fruit-and-chocolate hot cross bun at Long Shot
You never want to bite into a perfect-looking hot cross bun to find that it’s dry. Head pastry chef at Long Shot Maria Lantelme eliminates this risk by using brioche bread for her hot cross buns.
“Brioche stays softer for longer. It’s nice and dense from lots of butter and the addition of eggs.”
“We use Earl Grey tea to infuse the currants, raisins and sultanas that go into our buns.” Candied orange is also added to complement the 70:30 chocolate-to-fruit ratio.
Available in-store until 4pm Thursday.
Hot cross doughnut at Shortstop Coffee and Donuts
Shortstop’s hot-cross doughnut might be Melbourne’s most rogue hot cross bun variation.
“It’s like eating a hot cross bun from your childhood, but one that’s fried,” says owner Anthony Ivey.
“First we make a mixed-spiced dough containing cinnamon, nutmeg, brandy-soaked dried fruits and peel,” says Shortstop owner, Anthony Ivey.
“We allow the dough to proof overnight so it’s lighter and has deeper flavour. After that the dough is rolled out, hand-cut, proofed again, fried, glazed and finished with a cinnamon-sugar stripe.”
Available in-store until Thursday.
Nutella brioche hot cross bun at Oasis Bakery
Oasis Bakery’s Middle Eastern identity is strong. So the establishment’s obsession with Nutella might not at first be obvious.
“We dedicate our time to experimenting and coming up with exciting creations. Customers have responded really well to our brioche bread. We figured what better way to add to that than with everyone’s favourite spread: Nutella,” says co-director George Makool.
The result is an inconspicuous looking brioche hot cross bun with a gooey Nutella centre.
Available in-store until Easter Monday.
Vegan hot cross buns at Smith & Deli
Mo Wyse describes the hot cross buns at Fitzroy’s Smith & Deli as “accidentally vegan”.
“Most of the ingredients [in hot cross buns] are intrinsically animal free – check out your local supermarket and have a look!”
Wyse reckons they just step up the quality a notch by replacing butter with a dairy-free version and the milk with soy. Then it’s finished with a simple sugar-and-water wash, instead of egg.
Smith & Deli will have vegan hot cross buns in both traditional and chocolate versions in-store until Saturday.