Which Easter bun is best?
Pandoro Panetteria's Tony Beazley reveals the secret to the hot cross buns he has been baking since 1997. While he admits they're on the pricier side, they're packed with fruit, and he doesn't scrimp on butter either. "It's our mix of fruit and spice. We use the same amount of fruit every year, and the price of fruit has gone up. We just follow the same recipe."
Ditto with butter. "Other companies cut out the amount of butter to cut down on price but we don't. We don't stint on the amount of butter."
Easter buns are a food tradition for New Zealanders during the holiday weekend, when the spiced sweet buns marked with a cross are traditionally eaten on Good Friday. Around the country, bakers have started making their own buns, with chocolate versions becoming more popular. In the tradition of buying local, we're spoilt with the number of bakeries in the Wellington region that make their own version of the bun.
Pandoro makes fresh bread products, without any additives or preservatives to prolong shelf life. Buns are the same too. "We believe you make bread fresh to be eaten on the day. There's no need to add flavours or enhancers. Hot cross buns can last a bit longer, though, and I like mine toasted with butter, or reheated with loads of butter."
Up in Aro Valley, Max Fuhrer expects to bake close to 5000 hot cross buns on Easter Thursday. "That's our busiest day of the year, and busier than Christmas," says Arobake's owner/baker. "Eating hot cross buns on Friday morning is one tradition that people still follow."
Fuhrer and his team have tweaked the recipe over the past 25 years since the bakery opened, but he wonders if one of the secrets is the glaze he coats on top. A mix of brown sugar and apricot jam, he says: "It does make it a bit sticky on top. We also use butter and we put milk powder in our recipe too, which is like milk."
Arobake also likes the buns to be eaten fresh on the day. At the end of each day, bakers pull any buns not sold at Moore Wilson's, or in their own bakery, and donate them to one of the charity kitchens or Kaibosh. "They're fine to eat the next day, but we don't want to sell them," he says.
Ingredients and taste: Lacking. No peel, and limited fruit. Contains preservatives and emulsifiers.
The bun tasted a bit stale, definitely not fresh enough despite being eaten before its best before expiry.
Price/value. At 12 buns for $6, or $6 for two packs, the Countdown buns were the cheapest among those tested.
Overall rating. The Countdown bun disappointed the adults, but was enjoyed by kids who tasted it. Probably because it had the least amount of fruit.
NEW WORLD METRO BUN
New World, Willis St.
Ingredients and taste: We were pleasantly surprised by this bun made by supermarket bakers, which surprisingly contained no additives. Packed with fruit, these really did taste as though they had come straight out of the oven. The downside was the top tasted overcooked.
Price/value. On the cheaper end of the scale, at $8.99 for a six-pack.
Overall rating. A decent bun for its price, and a favourite among two of our taste testers.
TEN O'CLOCK COOKIE COMPANY HOT CROSS BUNS
Made in Wairarapa, sold at Moore Wilson Fresh.
Hot cross buns, winner, 2014 national champion, in the Baking Industry Association awards.
Ingredients and taste: Added folic acid. One of our testers found these buns too salty. However, it's a good-looking bun, packed with fruit. A well-glazed top and fluffy bun.
Price/value: $12.50 for a six-pack, but on special at Moore Wilson's for $7.99.
Overall rating. One of the best-looking buns and packed with fruit.
Overall joint winner.
Ingredients and taste: Good density, and a moreish mix of fruit, spices and flavours.
Price/value: The most expensive of our buns, at $13.50 for a six-pack, or $3 a bun from Pandoro cafe.
Overall rating. A firm favourite.
AROBAKE, ARO VALLEY
Founded 25 years ago by Arobake master baker Max Fuhrer.
Overall joint winner.
Ingredients and taste: Good appearance, balanced fruit and spice, and an overall all-round favourite. We were surprised to read the ingredients, and the list was different from others tasted – rum glaze and malt flour were unique to this bun.
Price/value. $11.40 for a six-pack.
Overall rating: A great find from Aro Valley.
JANUS BAKERY, LOWER HUTT
Ingredients and taste: Good fruit, but far too dry and needed to be zapped in the microwave to freshen it up. Also a bit tasteless. Everything in it was totally from the pantry, though.
Price/value: Pricey at $12.80 for a six-pack. Came in a nice box with an attractive label.
Overall rating: Not worth the pricier cost.
Least favourite of those sampled. It was lacking in flavour, tasted too salty, and was far too dry. Contains flavours and colour.
Price/value: $11.90 for a six-pack from Moore Wilson's.
Overall rating: Not great-looking. Needs to be toasted and layered with butter.
The Dominion Post