I'm not a sweet person (in any sense of the word!) but if there's one thing I like then it's a seasonal bake, and hot cross buns are very much up there after my weakness for mince pies. After visiting The Bread Shop (St John's Wood and Brent Cross) and SJW's Maison Blanc to no hot cross bun avail, I tried some of the best supermarket versions for you: here is the verdict.
In the interest of fairness I tried to select each supermarket's basic luxury version of hot cross bun, but having eaten the Tesco ones last week and found them to be not much more than a teacake, I opted for one of their flavoured versions. As the apple and cinnamon was undetectable anyway I shouldn't have bothered. There is an odd glaze that has meant the bun has caught too much, and the texture is crumbly.
There were two choices from Heston; this one and an Earl Grey and Mandarin hot cross bun offering. He always seems to be messing about with Earl Grey, and it's not always for me, so I opted for these. It's rather a whopper of a bun, and pleasingly so if you can get past the frankly bizarre smell which is not unlike a pine toilet cleaner. There is a slight medicinal flavour, which is a shame as the bun itself is beautiful in terms of the bake. Too weird for me, but doable when toasted.
2nd - Marks and Spencer Luxury Hot Cross Buns £1.60 for four (top left)
Again, Marks and Spencer had all sorts of non-traditional flavours and I was almost minded to pick up the 'berries and cherries' variety, but I stuck with the core product (which also comes in mini, which is a great idea). This was a close run thing as the bun was packed with lovely squidgy fruit and was perfectly spiced. Easily enjoyed with a nice cup of tea.
This bun just pipped the M&S one to the post. There is hardly anything in it, as they matched each other in terms of the fruit and spicing but this plain Waitrose version had the edge in terms of texture. At once luxuriously dense and weighty, but equally springy and soft this hot cross bun was really exceptional and I am going to enjoy eating these through Easter and beyond.