Easter taste test: Celeb chefs rate hot cross buns from five SA supermarkets

To help you buy the best, we asked top chefs to review traditional and chocolate-flavoured hot cross buns from major retailers

21 March 2021 - 00:02
Traditional hot cross buns from, from left, Woolworths, Checkers, SPAR, Pick n Pay and Food Lover's Market.
Traditional hot cross buns from, from left, Woolworths, Checkers, SPAR, Pick n Pay and Food Lover's Market.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

We're spoilt for choice when it comes to the seasonal Easter bakes on sale at local supermarkets. Along with traditional fruit-studded hot cross buns, you'll spot fruitless and chocolate-flavoured varieties on the shelves this year.

In a quest to help you buy the best, we asked four top Joburg chefs to rate both the classic and chocolatey versions from various retailers. They included Katlego Mlabo and Nthabiseng 'Nti' Ramaboa, both of whom have new TV shows on the Food Network, as well as Megin Meikle and Wynand van Wyk, the co-owners of Voila Bakery.

The blind tasting was free and fair; all the products were presented to the chefs without their packaging for scoring. Here are the results:

TRADITIONAL HOT CROSS BUNS

The chefs rated traditional hot cross buns from five different retailers: Checkers, Pick n Pay, Woolworths, SPAR and Food Lover's Market.

They were asked to judge the buns based on their aroma (looking for those fragrant spices associated with Easter), appearance (including that all-important cross), flavour and the amount of fruit they contained.

Woolworths Traditional Hot Cross Buns.
Woolworths Traditional Hot Cross Buns.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

FIRST PLACE

Woolworths Traditional Hot Cross Buns

Price: R28.99 for six

What the chefs said:

  • Katlego: Appearance is amazing. A little dense but not offensive. Really good.
  • Megin: Striking appearance, fruit very visible, good glaze and mouth feel when eating.
  • Nti: Perfect round shape and appearance. The cross is white and clean. Balanced flavour, zesty, fruity and really good. I'm taking a batch home!
  • Wynand: Beautiful glaze, perfect centred crosses and super fragrant spice. Dough texture a bit dense.
Checkers Traditional Hot Cross Buns.
Checkers Traditional Hot Cross Buns.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

SECOND PLACE

Checkers Traditional Hot Cross Buns

Price: R15.99 for six

What the chefs said:

  • Katlego: Tastes delicious, moist and yummy, but no aroma. I can't smell the spices. The crosses aren't straight.
  • Megin: Good cross, shiny. Fruits are visible. Good flavour, could have more spice.
  • Nti: Loving the glaze, the fruit is generous. Aromatic taste.
  • Wynand: Nice glaze, aroma could be improved with more spice. Beautiful selection of dried fruit, not just raisins. Soft bread-like texture that triggers Easter nostalgia.
SPAR Traditional Hot Cross Buns.
SPAR Traditional Hot Cross Buns.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

THIRD PLACE

SPAR Traditional Hot Cross Buns

Price: R24.99 for six

What the chefs said:

  • Katlego: Aroma and texture good. No glaze, fruit distribution wasn't good.
  • Megin: Good colour, thin even crosses. No glaze, average fruit. Spice flavour not strong.
  • Nti: My mom makes better hot cross buns, the fruit distribution is not balanced.
  • Wynand: No glaze but prominent spice flavour, soft texture and good fruit content, well distributed.
Pick n Pay Traditional Hot Cross Buns.
Pick n Pay Traditional Hot Cross Buns.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

FOURTH PLACE

Pick n Pay Traditional Hot Cross Buns

Price: R27.99 for six

What the chefs said:

  • Katlego: No glaze, texture dry. I couldn't smell spices, but plenty of raisins and orange zest which was bitter, including pith. It felt like I was eating a bread roll with fruit.
  • Megin: No distinctive flavour or taste of spice. Good crosses but no glaze. Mix of fruit and zest which has pith.
  • Nti: Perfect crosses, chunks of orange peel. This is a very fruity bun but not a hot cross bun.
  • Wynand: No glaze, beautiful crosses although off-centre. Slightly dry and spices are missing. Tastes mainly of fruit.
Food Lover's Market Traditional Hot Cross Buns.
Food Lover's Market Traditional Hot Cross Buns.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

FIFTH PLACE

Food Lover's Market Traditional Hot Cross Buns

Price: R16.99 for six

What the chefs said:

  • Katlego: I had to search for raisins. Texture dry. It feels like bread dough.
  • Megin: Fruit very sparse. Thick crosses, no glaze and very dry.
  • Nti: No glaze, a let-down and dry.
  • Wynand: Crosses look dismal. Short texture and dry. No glaze.
Chocolate hot cross buns from, from left, Woolworths, Checkers, SPAR and Pick n Pay.
Chocolate hot cross buns from, from left, Woolworths, Checkers, SPAR and Pick n Pay.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

CHOCOLATE HOT CROSS BUNS

Four of the retailers are making chocolate versions of hot cross buns this year: Checkers, Pick n Pay, SPAR and Woolworths.

The chefs were asked to judge the buns on their appearance, aroma, flavour and how chocolatey they were.

Woolworths Chocolate Hot Cross Buns.
Woolworths Chocolate Hot Cross Buns.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

FIRST PLACE

Woolworths Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

Price: R32.99 for six

What the chefs said:

  • Katlego: Full of chocolate and flavour. Beautiful crosses and good aroma, although a little on the dry side.
  • Megin: Smells of chocolate, good amount of chocolate chips and strong chocolate taste.
  • Nti: I'll take a batch home please, plus an extra one for my mom!
  • Wynand: Nice chocolate flavour, soft texture with big chocolate chips. Perfect crosses and nice glaze.
Checkers Chocolate Hot Cross Buns.
Checkers Chocolate Hot Cross Buns.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

SECOND PLACE

Checkers Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

Price: R19.99 for six

What the chefs said:

  • Katlego: Soft, fresh and delicious. Chocolate cross is delicious but cross needs to be a little thinner. Good aroma.
  • Megin: Good aroma, smells of spice and chocolate. Cross looks a little clumsy but is delicious.
  • Nti: Beautiful glaze and chocolate cross looks inviting. I enjoyed the cinnamon flavour with chocolate.
  • Wynand: Very soft texture with generous amount of chocolate. Underlying flavour of spice that carries through.
SPAR Chocolate Flavoured Hot Cross Buns.
SPAR Chocolate Flavoured Hot Cross Buns.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

THIRD PLACE

SPAR Chocolate Flavoured Hot Cross Buns

Price: R24.99 for six

What the chefs said:

  • Katlego: Not really tasting anything nor is there an aroma. It's more like bread with cocoa powder. No glaze.
  • Megin: Very few chocolate chips. Good appearance, but has no aroma or chocolate flavour.
  • Nti: Why do we call this a hot cross bun?
  • Wynand: Tastes like white bread with chocolate spread. Texture is nice and soft, no glaze or spices.
Pick n Pay Chocolate Hot Cross Buns.
Pick n Pay Chocolate Hot Cross Buns.
Image: Christoph Hoffman

FOURTH PLACE

Pick n Pay Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

Price: R38.99 for six

What the chefs said:

  • Katlego: No chocolate at all, very flat. Slight aroma, more like white bread.
  • Megin: No flavour or smell of chocolate. Slight hint of spice.
  • Nti: The cross on the bun says it's a chocolate bun — until you break it and have to search for chocolate.
  • Wynand: No glaze, cross indicates chocolate but still searching for the chocolate. Dry texture.