There’s never been a better time to hole up inside and scoff HCBs. Not only are they the perfect accompaniment to chocolate eggs – during this crazy time, they’re also the perfect comfort food, regardless of whether you like them microwaved or toasted.
Here are ten of Sydney’s best. There’s a Blue Mountains bakery stuffing its vegan buns with cocao nibs, an inner-west favourite that makes its with Jagermeister-soaked fruit and spiced brioche dough and an inner-east hole-in-the-wall turning out light, orange blossom-glazed bundles. Lock yourself away with these stellar takes on the traditional.
Saga’s HCBs are made with spiced brioche dough, steamed before baking, and filled with Jagermeister-soaked fruit. Each bun is glazed with falernum, a Carribean syrup often used in cocktails. The Saga team makes its falernum with citrus, pepper, cinnamon, star anise, cloves and cardamom, later applied with the generous brush strokes of a pastry chef obsessed with flavour. $4.50 each; available in store.
Like many other diners, Stanmore’s Sixpenny has switched to takeaway to cope with coronavirus. It now offers baked goods, wine and general groceries. It’s pumping out both traditional and chocolate hot cross buns. They’re available for pre-order and pick-up now. $25 for six; available in store.
Black Cockatoo, Lawson and Katoomba
Traditionalists be warned: these aren’t technically hot cross buns – there is no cross. Black Cockatoo calls them “Z buns”, likely after the Jackson Pollock-style splash of glaze on top. They’re also organic and vegan. The lack of milk and butter makes for a sort-of-sourdough-style bun made with some of Australia’s best flour (from Wholegrain Milling, which you can’t buy in stores). Choose between chocolate (70 per cent cocao nibs and usually vegan, but double check when you order, as it’s had supply chain issues) or the more traditional raisin mixture, both with added spice from Black Cockatoo’s house-made orange paste. $3.50 each; available in store.
Cherry Moon General Store, Annandale
We would say this is how hot cross buns were made back in the day, in an old-school wood-fired oven. But back in the day no one was making hot cross buns with a wattleseed-infused dough and Tasmanian sour cherries in place of sultanas. The buns are baked with the leftover heat from the previous day’s bake, giving them a hearty aroma, while the glaze, made with cherry juice and spice, turns out so brilliantly bronze it makes them seem like they’ve been cast from the furnaces of heaven. Available in store.
Brickfields, Chippendale and Marrickville
Stippled with plump fruit and coated in a glaze so thick it’s almost crunchy, the hot cross buns from Brickfields are pretty close to perfect. Cardamom and Sri Lankan cinnamon give these buns a good thwack of spice, while cranberries, raisins and candied orange peel add depth and variety of flavour. Add salted butter – such as the Pepe Saya pats ($10 for 225 grams) Brickfields sells at its Chippendale and Marrickville shopfronts, as well as via home delivery – and you’re in for a salty-sweet delight. $3.50 each or $19 for six; available in store and online.
Flour and Stone, Woolloomooloo
In a topsy-turvy world, at least we can always turn to the comforts of Flour and Stone for nourishment and comfort. That extends to its hot cross buns. You’ll particularly enjoy these buns if you like dried grapes – they contain currants, raisins and sultanas, plus confit orange for a zesty punch. They’re glazed with orange blossom and also contain an array of lovely spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. $4.50 each, $25 for six or $48 for 12; available in store and delivered.
From 10am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday, the stellar Potts Point wine bar is running #MonopoleMarket in collaboration with sister venues Yellow and Bentley. You’ll be able to get fresh produce boxes, wine, takeaway coffee, Yellow’s incredible black liquorice bread, Monopole’s hot cross buns and Bentley’s signature aerated chocolate. $4 each; available in store.
Staple Bread & Necessities, Seaforth
This one is perfect for those who live in the northern beaches. These sourdough buns are speckled with loads of sultanas, currants and raisins, and rather than the traditional mixed peel they’re made orange peel, giving them a citrusy tang that’s neither too bitter nor too sweet. Finally, the buns are glazed with the same citrus syrup Staple uses in its Christmas panettone. $3 each; available in store.
Berkelo, Brookvale, Mona Vale, Mosman
Berkelo’s HCBs might taste traditional, but they have a few twists. Like all its products, these buns don’t contain refined sugar, bleached flour or artificial sweeteners. Instead, they’re studded with organic pears, dried currants and sultanas soaked in house-made chai, all mixed into the slow-fermented dough with Berkelo’s own five-spice mixture, full-cream milk and honey. The buns are then brushed with a ginger glaze for a tangy, tongue-tingling finish. $16 for six; available in-store and delivered.
Madame & Yves
Pastry chef Yves Scherrer used to be in charge of viennoiserie and croissants at one of America’s most exclusive private diners, frequented by current and former US presidents including Barack Obama. Last year he opened this cute spot in Clovelly and is making traditional spiced buns for the season. But we’re more taken by the Hot X Eclairzilla – 40 centimetres of hot-cross bun “baguette” with raisins, apricots, cranberries and candied oranges. It’s soaked in cinnamon syrup with some cardamon and orange and then topped with a spiced mascarpone whipped cream. Wowser. It’s $32 and feeds six people. Order asap for delivery. $4 for one hot cross bun, $21 for six; available in-store or delivered.