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The hot cross bun taste test: homemade v shop-bought

2 April 2012
The hot cross bun taste test: homemade v shop-bought
The hot cross bun taste test: homemade v shop-bought

The experiment this week: can people tell the difference between a homemade hot cross bun and a shop-bought one? And will a homemade bun – baked by yours truly, using bread maestro Richard Bertinet’s recipe – taste better than one from a supermarket?

A team of seven independent judges blind-tasted eight buns (including my homemade ones) and gave a mark out of 10. So starting from the bottom…

8. Warburtons hot cross bun loaf

Average score: 4.8/10

Tasting notes: It was the loaf’s very being that let it down. “This is not a bun,” said one taster. “It’s just toast with fruit,” moaned another. Poor Warburtons – it can’t help being sliced! However, one person did give it 8/10, and said that they could happily polish off a whole loaf.

How much? £1.39 per loaf, available at most supermarkets.

7. Co-op hot cross buns

Average score: 5.4/10

Tasting notes: “Plain” sums up the feedback for this one. A bog-standard bun which was lacking in fruit. Although one taster, who likes his buns subtle, described it as “pleasant”, and gave a score of 7/10.

How much? Two packs of four buns for £1.50

6. ASDA cranberry and orange buns

Average score: 5.6/10

Tasting notes: The marmite bun. Some loved it: “light and fluffy; loved the cranberries”; others hated it: “the berries are a bit weird and jarring”. We’ll leave it up to you to decide.

How much? £1 for four buns

5. Aldi luxury hot cross buns

Average score: 6.1/10

Tasting notes: One taster gave the Aldi bun 8.5/10, and another complimented it for its “nice flavour and sweetness”. But some found the dough too heavy, and another simply wrote “boring” in the comments box.

How much? 75p for six buns 

Joint bronze: Waitrose date and cranberry

Average score: 6.4/10

Tasting notes: Waitrose always makes it to the top three. “Really soft, fluffy and delicious” was the conclusion, although some berated it for a lack of sweetness and the fact that it was quite small.  

How much? £1.35 for four buns

Joint bronze: Charlotte’s homemade buns


Average score: 6.4/10 

Tasting notes: Great big sigh of relief… I’m happy with a bronze medal. One person (my new favourite in the office) wrote, “Love it! Bursting with flavour – I want more!” and it also got a “Can’t stop”. But “too stodgy” and “needs more fruit” were also in there. Be still, my wounded heart!

How much: It cost me about £2.50 to make 20 buns

Silver: Tesco cranberry and orange

Average score: 6.6/10

Tasting notes: “The best!” exclaimed one taster – he loved the wholesome flavour. Everyone agreed that it had a lovely light texture, although somebody did say that it was “no way near as tasty as a proper hot cross bun”.

How much: £1.25 for four buns

Gold: Heston Blumenthal’s Earl Grey and mandarin

Average score: 7.6/10

Tasting notes: Curses! We were hoping for a surprise Heston result. But there’s just no faulting his burly buns. “Really tasty”, “delightful orange aftertaste”, “very tangy and fresh”, “fab citrus taste and fantastic size”… need I go on?  

How much? £1.59 for two buns

Only one person correctly guessed which bun was homemade.

Do you think you’d be able to tell? Do you make your own, or would you prefer Heston to do it? Talk to us in the Comments box below…

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