Time Out Melbourne

Battle of the buns: we've eaten our way through the city's baked goods in order to bring you the best ones

What’s not to love about a doughy, spicy, fruity, buttery ball of joy, warmed to perfection in the toaster and slathered liberally with salted butter? Melbourne has a wealth of brilliant bakers, all of whom have been elbow-deep in flour, sugar and spice, perfecting their recipes for Easter. We’ve rounded up our ten favourite floury heroes below.

But first, in the name of research, we also caught up with baker Brenton Lang, bun sheriff of Rustica Sourdough, and asked him a few hot cross questions.

Brenton, what makes the perfect hot cross bun?
It’s got to be traditional, with plenty of spice and fruit and a soft dough.

How do you arrive at doughy perfection?
There’s a trial period of around four weeks when we work on perfecting the recipe: first we spend a week or so getting the flavour right, then around three weeks focussing on texture.

Tell us about your spice mix?
We used seven spices in this year’s recipe, including allspice, cloves, cardamom, ginger and cinnamon.

What’s different about your buns?
We use a choux pastry for the cross (most bakers use flour and water, which tastes really nasty if you eat it on its own) and there’s no water in our buns – instead we use butter and milk, which makes our dough light and briochey.

How do you take your buns?
I like my buns toasted, with a really good cultured butter (salted) and a glass of milk.

We like milk; you like milk. We like buns; you like buns. We have so much in common. Let’s get married.
Er, no.

Melbourne's top ten hot cross buns

Baker D Chirico

Orange and ginger purée flavour these buttery buns, which are studded with juicy currants. Rather than cooking up a new recipe each year, chef Dan's traditional Italian formula plays on repeat. No chocolate buns here, though they are considering offering a colomba (mini panettone) topped with sugar and almonds. St Kilda.

Loafer Bread

These guys don't loaf around (not sorry) when it comes to whipping up perfect sourdough hot cross buns – the Australian fruit is organic, the peel is candied onsite and a dark malt syrup adds lustre to the glaze. A strong candidate for the number one spot. Fitzroy North.

Chez Dre

We're going nuts for the glaze on these buns, which crisps up like a sugar shell when you throw a toaster into the equation. Shiny cranberries stud the fluffy dough; they get their bold flavour from being soaked in a spice mix overnight. Purists, look away: Chez Dre also offers a – wait for it – chocolate hot cross bun, made with white and dark chocolate. South Melbourne.

Babka Bakery Café

Babka's baker is a bun maestro; he also claims to be the original "OB" (that's orange blender, to you and me). His secret includes shoving whole oranges into the mix, making for a heady fruity flavour, minus the annoying bits of peel. Fitzroy.

Dench Bakers

Dense, chewy, flavoured headily with pureéd whole oranges and spiced with a secret blend that includes – drum roll, please – coriander: Dench's hot cross buns are rightly famous. Dench is only a few steps from Loafer Bread, putting Fitzroy North high on the bun-lover's radar. Fitzroy North.

Café Vue: St Kilda Road

No prizes for guessing that every plump morsel of fruit in Vue De Monde’s buns is the business; one bite and you'll see why the spelt and cranberry treats are such a crowd-pleaser. They’re packing fruit, yet still somehow manage to be ethereally fluffy. Melbourne.

Candied Bakery

Bitter pith haters rejoice! These spiced buns have no peel and everything’s organic right down to the eggs and butter that make these rich rolls part cake and all awesome. Plus, you can hit up their banoffee pie soft serve ice cream while you're there. Spotswood.

Filou's French Bakery

Glazed and also peel-free (viva la revolution!), Filou's buns are raisin- and apricot-stuffed and bready without having too much wild yeast action. The bakery is also opposite the cemetery, which seems appropriate. Carlton North.

Tivoli Road Bakery

Hot cross doughnuts! OK, so it's not a bun, but it is a fluffy sugar-coated disk filled with a spiced cream stacked with sultanas. How can you argue with that? Not a fan of funny business, when it comes to Easter treats? Tivoli also offers the classic hot cross bun. (If it ain't broke...) South Yarra.

Rustica Sourdough

If we could marry a bun (or at least spend a night with one), it’d be Rustica's, although the union might not last long. They’re just too tasty: light, fluffy, perfectly spiced and generously fruited. Baker Brenton has developed a secret sourdough technique; it’s paying off. Fitzroy.

Updated on 26 Mar 2015.

By Sarah Jappy   |  
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