In a quest to find out which supermarket produces the tastiest and best value for money hot cross buns, I have been testing samples from some of the big supermarkets.
My husband loves hot cross buns. When we met he used to eat them all year round – keeping them stocked up in the freezer – and even managed somehow to cut each bun into three slices instead of two to make them seem like they lasted longer. So I wanted to find out which ones we should be buying this Easter.
I selected four supermarkets in my taste test – Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and my local Co-op. I decided to pick in most cases the in-house bakery option or if that wasn’t available the closest product to that.
To vary it a little – I was a bit concerned they would all taste the same – for the Sainsbury’s option I went for their low fat Be Good To Yourself range.
I had considered heading to Waitrose to test Heston Blumenthal’s wacky range of Earl Grey and mandarin or acacia honey buns, but ruled them out in the end as I decided it would be comparing apples and pears – and working out at 89.5p per bun, they are hardly low cost.
How they look
Having selected my purchases and brought them home, I gave them a quick once over. I was surprised to find that there were quite a few variations in their appearance.
The Tesco buns’ crosses were whiter and more uniform, while Asda’s were pretty skewiff, as though the baker was a bit drunk when he or she was making them.
Asda’s, however, were lovely and soft, while I was surprised to notice that the Co-op’s were much darker and their crosses weren’t straight either.
The low fat Sainsbury’s buns had a creamy-white cross on them, which made them look quite different from the others. I wondered if this was something to do with the low fat ingredients chosen.
Asda’s were the cheapest of the bunch at 65p for four, so just 16.2p each. I was also surprised to find that Tesco and the Co-op tied at second place in terms of pricing, with each bun costing 16.7p each.
As the Co-op is somewhere I shop when I’m short of time and don’t expect to be cheap, this was a surprise but then the buns are on special offer until 14th April. Sainsbury’s Be Good To Yourself buns were the dearest at six for £1.30 or 21.7p each.
But how would they taste?
The taste test
For once, I managed not to burn them all in my overzealous grill, which was a relief as I didn’t want this to spoil the flavour. Here are my results, bun by bun…
1. Co-op Loved By Us hot cross buns
As I said earlier, the Co-op is somewhere I shop on the hop, so I was shocked to find that their hot cross buns came top in my taste and pricing test. The flavour was lovely and cinnamony but not too sweet.
The cook was generous with the sultanas, although they did tend to be all on one side of the bun – a frequent issue I found in the test with other samples. At 16.7p, I felt this was good value.
Flavour: 8/10 Price: 7/10
2. Asda bakery hot cross buns
Asda’s bakery hot cross buns were lovely and soft – no doubt because they were slightly fresher than some of the others and had most likely been baked that day. There was also a good proportion of fruit.
The flavour was much lighter than the Co-op’s offering and not as heavy with the seasoning – I would have preferred more – but it was still tasty and the pricing – 16.2p – was great value.
Flavour: 6/10 Price: 9/10
3. Tesco bakery hot cross buns
Tesco’s buns were crunchy and also had quite a light flavour to them but more flavour than Asda’s ones. However, what let them down a little bit for me was the stinginess with the sultanas and the fact that they were all bunched on one side.
But while 16.7p – the same price as the Co-op’s – isn’t bad value, I’d expect slightly better value from Tesco.
Flavour: 7/10 Price: 7/10
4. Sainsbury’s Be Good To Yourself hot cross buns
The disappointment of the bunch was the Sainsbury’s low fat offering. They were labelled as only 3% fat but when I compared the calorie rating to the Co-op’s, the Co-op’s actually had fewer calories per bun – 170 calories compared with Sainsbury’s 187.
The Co-op’s were 4% fat. Sainsbury’s buns were nice and soft but the flavour from the sultanas was much too overpowering for my taste. Considering they were the least tasty of the bunch, they are also the most expensive, which is why they came bottom in my test.
Flavour: 5/10 Price: 5/10
Having worried that they might all taste the same, I was very surprised to find so many differences in flavour and fruit distribution as I did, as well as price. It just goes to show that it’s worth shopping around for the best deal and for hot cross buns that suit you and your family’s palate.
I now have a lot of leftover hot cross buns that I need to fit in my freezer. At least it will keep my other half happy for the next few months!