I compared hot buns and “the best” really was the best
Just like chocolate eggs, hot cross buns are an integral part of our Easter menu. And there has been a resurgence in popularity for the Easter staple in recent years with sales at Tesco up a fifth (20%) in 2021, while sales of its Finest Hot Cross Bun range have increased by 30%.
In fact, they’re so popular that the supermarket chain is set to open the UK’s first hot cross bun cafe in London this year. The Hot Cross Bun Café will offer an experience entirely centered around the classic Easter treat. From brunch and afternoon tea to a fine dining experience. Learn more here.
The buns were originally baked to mark the end of the Christian season of Lent and different parts of the sweet have some meaning, including the cross representing the crucifixion of Jesus, and the spices inside signifying the spices used to embalm him at his burial and may also include orange peels to reflect the bitterness of his time on the Cross.
Read more:I compared baked beans and now I’m changing
One theory is that they originated in St Albans, England in 1361 when Friar Thomas Rodcliffe, a 14th century monk at St Albans Abbey, developed a similar recipe called ‘Alban Bun’ and distributed the bread roll to the local poor on Good Friday.
In addition to the traditional rolls that have been around for years, many large supermarket chains are now offering different flavors – even savory ones – as they shake up the seasonal market. The London venue will serve Hot Cross Bangers and Smash and Hot Cross Bun Steak Tartare. They even reinvented the classic cocktail, with a Hot Cross Bun Espresso Martini available.
We decided to take a look at the traditional hot rolls that supermarkets offer to find out which is the best for 2022, looking at which offers offer the best value for money, which have the least sugar and which we would recommend to buy.
After visiting five different stores in South Wales on March 17, Aldi and Marks & Spencer stood out as having really gone to town with their lineups for 2022, with different flavors of hot cross buns, including savory options.
Aldi’s packs start from 65p for a pack of four traditional rolls from its Essentiel range, but they also have a huge range of choices in different rhubarb and custard flavors ( £1.19 for six), salted butter caramel and Belgian chocolate ( 99p from £1.99), apple and cinnamon ( 99p ) and salted cheese and onion ( £1.99 ).
But it’s Marks & Spencer that has the biggest range, including, wait for it, the pot flavored ones (you’ll either love them or hate them). There are also deluxe fruits, extremely chocolatey, gluten-free, blueberry and extremely cheesy. Four-packs are two for £2.50 Where £1.65 each.
Take a look here at how we found some of the more traditional buns on offer:
Ingredients : 11% dried fruits, 1% mixed bark.
Sanitary classification: 2.3 g fat, 8.9 g sugar, 2.4 g fiber and 0.50 g salt
Verdict: “Not a lot of fruit in there and it looked more like a bun than a hot bun, but it was still a good size, tasted good and was fresh. Very good value , but not as much flavor as some of the others and would definitely benefit from more fruit.
“However, they had the lowest sugar level of any roll we tried and had one of the lowest for sugar content. Bought on March 17, they had an expiry date of March 22. “
Cost: £1 for six
Ingredients : 25% moistened fruit mix, 2% orange and lemon peel, ground spice mix of cinnamon, coriander, cloves and nutmeg.
Sanitary classification: 3.8 g of fat, 1.5 g of saturated fat, 12 g of sugars and 0.3 g of salt.
Verdict: “They’re a good size, and six for £1 is very good value. There was enough fruit, but no masses, and the spice flavors were quite powerful and certainly the strongest of all tried hot rolls.
“They were fresh and well toasted. Bought on March 17 and the best before date was March 20, although it says they are suitable for home freezing.”
Cost: £1 for four
Ingredients: 22% sultanas, 6% sultanas, 6% currants and doesn’t give spice and orange zest percentages but they are there.
Sanitary classification: 3.4g fat. 1.3 g saturates, 14.3 g sugars, 0.4 g salt
Verdict: “These hot cross buns are called the ‘best’ and have been recommended by the Good Housekeeping Institute, so they have plenty to do before you even open the package. They are described as ‘extra fruity, deliciously buttery with juicy fruits, orange zest and spices”.
“To be fair, they are exactly what a hot roll should be, the right mix of fruit and spices in a soft batter with a nice glaze on top. They cut and toast well and definitely have more depth of flavor than some of the others. This was probably “the best” we’ve tried and I would definitely go back for more. There aren’t many other flavor choices in store, but they had flavor of lemon and apple and cinnamon drizzle of your choice (£1 for a pack of four). They were bought on March 17 and had a best before date of March 18.”
Marks and Spencer
Cost: Four-packs are two for £2.50 Where £1.65 each.
Ingredients : 33% moistened vine fruits, 2% mixed orange and lemon peel, cinnamon and ground coriander seeds.
Sanitary classification: 3.1 g fat, 1.2 g saturated fat, 19.3 g sugars. 0.29g of salt.
Verdict: “These had one of the highest percentages of mixed fruit, and this was clearly reflected in the flavor which is described as ‘luxury fruity’. The packaging says they are ‘rich and aromatic , filled with juicy fruit, mixed rinds and a unique blend of warming spices” and you wouldn’t take them in that description. They’re really tasty with a nice glaze (which used unsalted butter) but they’re also the higher in sugar and they were quite crumbly and not as easy to toast as some others.Bought on March 17, best before date was March 21.
Cost: £1 for six
Ingredients: 25% moistened mixed fruit, 2% mixed orange and lemon peel
Sanitary classification: 1.5 g fat. 0.5g of saturates, 12.3g of sugars, 0.32g of salt.
Verdict: “They are slightly smaller than some others but there are six in the pack for £1 which is good value. The batter has a lovely flavor with a good mix of spices and their claims to be “richly fruity”. ” are correct. They were fresh, well cut and grilled.
“The frosting on top wasn’t as rich as some of the others, but they have one of the lowest sugar levels of any bun, so you can’t complain. Overall, I would be happy if this was served on Easter morning.Bought on March 17, best before date was March 20.
“Despite a slight hangover after trying the various samples, it’s not enough to put me off the Easter treat. The Morrison range is very bold and is called ‘The Best’, but it was actually with strong flavors and just the right mix of all the ingredients needed for the perfect warm crossbread, yet it had one of the highest sugar numbers.
“Aldi’s essential rage is extremely cheap at 65p offer, but I think it’ll be up to someone else to try Marks & Spencer’s Marmite specialties.”