Top 8 hot cross buns to try this spring

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“A penny, two a penny” – the nursery rhyme Hot Cross Buns was originally a street cry by bakers in the 18th century. Today we can play it on YouTube with cartoon characters showing kids how to make the raisin buns. They’re not hard to make, but there are plenty in our survey to please. This year we found some interesting innovations with flavored rolls far from the traditional ones.

Not all bakers make hot rolls, and I don’t think it’s worth setting up a special production system for such a short time, but those who make them do a great job.

Although grilling them adds texture and flavor, the best ones are good as is. Some will go stale quickly, like good bread does, so put some in the freezer if you buy too much. They are easy to thaw and will make a delicious breakfast later.

Hot cross buns can be successfully used in bread and butter pudding or made into breadcrumbs for fish goujons (I use haddock), starting with the flour (add curry powder too) , then the beaten egg, then the breadcrumbs. Heat the oil in a roasting pan and place the dowels on it. Return after eight minutes to wrap up for the final two minutes.

The rolls are also delicious served with something savory like creamy Irish cheese or bacon.

Dunnes Simply Better All Butter €2.99

Photos: Eddie O’Hare

The best fruit of the selection includes 17% succulent Turkish raisins, 10% Chilean raisins, 4.7% Vostizza currants soaked in tea with mixed peels. Warm spices, enriched with butter and Irish eggs, make this a good product made in County Louth. Tasters who love a very fruity bun put on these tops.

Rating: 9

M&S Golden Blond Chocolate & Salted Caramel 2,60 €

With chunks of fudge and salted caramel fudge, and chunks of milk and white chocolate, scattered throughout the lightly spiced crumb, these were winners with two tasters. The new Marmite flavor (€1.72 for 4) contains 5% Cheddar and 5% Red Leicester. Adventurous tasters have tried and at the first taste, rejected it. A nibble or two later, they found themselves looking for more.

Rating: 8.75

Hassetts Bakery €1.20, five for €5.50

A nice light texture here with just the right traditional proportion of fruit and a traditional yeast flavored crumb. Good not grilled too. They went stale within two days, a sign that there are no additives for long shelf life. Toasting brought them to life, reheating them in the oven or using them in a bread pudding.

Rating: 9

ABC 90c each, four for €3.30

The Choc Cross Buns (€1 each, €3.50 for four) were a hit with the children when they saw the chocolate chips added (of good quality) to the already chocolatey crumb. The fruit was low in fruitiness, which appealed to those who found the other samples too rich. Both buns are topped with a traditional dough cross made from flour and water, which tasters found a little too bulky.

Rating: 8

Quay Co-Op €1.95 each

A sweet glaze is appealing here, finishing off a dense texture that still manages to be light. A good light amount of fruit contrasts with a good taste of yeast and bread. A thick paste for the cross was hard and bulky, which the tasters did not like.

Rating: 8

Tesco Finest Salted Caramel & Chocolate €2

Chunks of salted caramel fudge and chocolate chips replace the fruit in an interesting bread that will please the sweet tooth. The chocolate was not as good as the other chocolate samples.

We also liked the range’s lively St Clements, which has orange-soaked fruit with candied oranges and lemon zest.

Rating: 8.25

SuperValu Signature Taste €2.25

With 24% raisins, 8% sultanas, lemon flavored tea, apple pulp, a mix of spices, we expected a less dry crumb in the bun. A bit too sweet too, but once toasted and buttered, tasters liked them better.

Rating: 7

Aldi Specially Selected Luxurious €1.49

With a good 29% sultanas, 4% sultanas, 4% currants, 2% citrus peel, these appealed to those who like lots of fruit. The crumb was a little chewy, so tasters decided it would make a good bread and butter pudding without the need for the addition of fruit.

Rating: 7.25

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