There is nothing tastes quite like Easter than a hot cross bun with butter melting over it – that is apart from a really chocolatey Easter egg, of course! For the purposes of research, I have been testing the supermarket hot cross buns, adding a few more to last year’s taste test. I have tried those from Tesco, Waitrose, Asda, Marks & Spencer and Sainsbury’s. Sadly, Morrisons, who this week has announced its extended gluten free range, did not seem to have any. (Though I was really impressed by the product range, which included some harder to find flours.)
My starting off point was that a hot cross bun should not be a spiced bread roll, it should be a glazed fruity bun with lots of fruit and spicy flavours, a sticky glaze and a clear, but not too doughy cross on the top..
Tesco Fresh Free From Hot Cross Buns x 4 – £2 These were nicely dense and definitely bun-like. They were a bit crumpled, which might have been from the baking process, but they had a mild spicy flavour, lots of fruit and were almost bagel-like. There was no grittiness and they were doughy and toasted well, holding together. When I opened the packet, I was set to dislike these because they were crumpled, but I quickly changed my mind and they came out top.
Asda Chosen by you Free From Hot Cross Buns x 4 – £2
These certainly had the nicest packaging! Unfortunately the cute little bunnies were hiding what were pretty much spiced bread rolls. These were very light and bready, thin on fruit and without much flavour. Has someone just spiced up their gluten free rolls? Very disappointing.
Sainsbury’s Hot Cross Buns Freefrom x 4 – £2
A little more expensive, but hot cross buns are not a staple item – they are an Easter treat. These little buns had a hefty sticky glaze and sugar on top, making them much sweeter. They were a bit more bread-like, but had a good flavour and lots of fruit. The bread fell apart a bit, as they were less dense than others, but they tasted great and the sugar on the top was lovely. Therewas no grittiness either.
Marks and Spencer Made Without Wheat Hot Cross Buns x2 – £2.20
Ouch! These are expensive for only two rather small hot cross buns! But what else would you expect from M&S? These were dense and moist, though possibly a bit more like a scone than a bun. There was plenty of fruit, no grittiness and the flavour was good. The buns were quite chewy and the scone-like texture meant they were not as doughy and sticky as they might be. Having said that, as with most M&S you cannot knock the quality – the Made Without Wheat range is very good.
Top marks go to Tesco for a really good gluten free hot cross bun. These were packed off to the freezer for later use and I recommend them as the all rounder. I also recommend Sainsburys for stickiness and spice, and Waitrose for the flavour and that lovely crunchy sugar topping.