As the Easter months march up, there’s no better way to celebrate than by eating a fresh hot cross bun. The mornings start to get colder, and the cure comes in the form of buttery, toasty buns, with just the right amount of spice, citrus, and maybe even a little chocolate.
Here’s my top picks of the best hot cross buns in Melbourne. I’ve eaten so many, you’d almost think I couldn’t stand another, but who am I kidding – they’re really hard to get sick of. Melbourne is filled with fantastic bakeries, so I’ve tried and tested the artisan best, so that you don’t have to (and it was so hard, you owe me big time).
Hopefully you’ll find this guide and each tasting note handy in your hunt for the perfect hottie. While I’m more in love with the warmer, rich, and chocolatey flavours, perhaps you prefer the old fashioned spice and candied peel. Regardless, there’s a bun in here for everyone.
Philippa’s bakery is one of those all rounders. Whether you’re looking for a great sourdough loaf, a sweet cinnamon pecan swirl pastry – my personal favourite – or even a crumbly sausage roll, you won’t be disappointed at this humble bakery. Philippa’s is located in Armadale, Brighton and Richmond, although you’ll also find them popping up at markets such as the St Kilda Veg Out Farmers Market.
The Philippa’s bun is perfect for those who enjoy a sweet treat with afternoon tea. Its dense texture is sweet, with a strong flavour of blueberries and a creamy undercurrent. The ideal accompaniment to a cup of Earl Grey.
7. Tivoli Road Bakery
Since the release of the recent Tivoli Road Bakery cookbook, ambitious Melburnians may be attempting this recipe at home this year. If, however, you don’t plan to spend the day kneading and repeatedly waiting for your dough to rise, pop down to the South Yarra bakery and grab some fresh. Top tip: There’s nearly aways a line here, so get down early to make sure you get the best of the buns.
These hot cross buns have a picture-perfect glossy exterior which is firm and chewy, until you break into the soft interior. Cloves and orange rind flavours dominate, and there’s plenty of sweetness in this bun, enough to make it a dessert.
6. Mörk Chocolate
Mörk Chocolate Brew House have brought to North Melbourne what coffee roasters have done for the rest of the city, only in a more edible form; chocolate. Visit the unassuming chocolate-focused cafe for a range of exciting and experimental hot and cold drinks, all showcasing the highest quality artisan chocolate, roasted in house.
The Mörk hot cross buns are as you’d expect; chocolate everything, but although they look wicked, they’re not as sweet as they appear. The cacao bitterness adds a refreshing lightness to a crumbly, cake-like texture. Chunks of chocolate and candied fruit compete for the most delightful morsels.
5. Woodfrog Bakery
Arguably the bakery where you’ll find the best bread in Melbourne, Woodfrog Bakery is based in St Kilda but has outlets in Brighton, Camberwell, Toorak and the city centre. Their Soir loaf – French for evening – is a slice of heaven, with wholemeal wheat, rye and malted barley flour. It’s light and fluffy inside the shell of a caramelised chewy crust.
They’ve recently brought out their hot cross buns in time for Easter, and these ones are perfectly suited to a buttery breakfast. More savoury than sweet, they’re packed full of currants and sultanas, and come across generously on cinnamon and clove spice.
4. Doughboys Doughnuts
I know, I know. This is a doughnut, not a traditional hot cross bun. But I simply couldn’t exclude this wonderful creation from Doughboys from the list. The dough is made up of spice and fruit, perfectly mimicking the flavour of a traditional hot cross bun.
From here it gets a bit creative. Deep fried (of course) and dusted in sugar, the apricot jam centre is simply delightful. If you’re a sweet tooth, you can’t miss out on this seasonal Easter doughy.
3. Chez Dré
Since opening in South Melbourne Chez Dré has developed an almost cult following of locals hankering for a croque monsieur or crunchy croissant. The french café-cum-patisserie expanded its offering into Bibelot, where the dessert items now reign supreme.
As far as hot cross buns go, the Chez Dré ones aren’t that impressive to look at. They appear rather flat and dark, however this speaks nothing about their taste. Rich and warm, these buns boast the perfect balance between sweet and savoury. With a bready texture that seems almost caramelised, I could throw these buns back all day long.
2. Rustica Sourdough
Rustica Sourdough recently packed up in Richmond and moved over to Hawthorn, meaning that I actually have to travel to sample their sweets – an effort I’m prepared to make, especially after trying one of their cronuts. Their other locations include the city and Fitzroy (still too far away, come to the south east Rustica!).
They make both the traditional and chocolate chip hot cross buns, and while both are absolutely fantastic, it’s the chocolate one I’m going to wax lyrical about. Whatever chocolate chunks they’ve used in these buns, I could inhale them. Flavour wise it’s almost fragrant, but the silky smooth texture is what stands out. Either version of these buns are absolutely fantastic toasted – when the warm cinnamon can shine – smothered with butter, and accompanied by a piping hot mug of filter coffee.
1. Agathé Pâtisserie
Located in the heart of the South Melbourne Market, Agathé Pâtisserie serves a mouthwatering range of French-style pastries and baked goods. Their chocolate almond croissants are guaranteed to improve any bad day; the constant lines of customers will attest to that.
Make sure you get in early if you want to sample some of the Agathé hot cross buns. These made the top of the list because there was absolutely nothing to fault. Gentle spice of cinnamon and lingering traces of apple, orange peel and juicy sultanas come together in a soft and decadent dough. The golden colour of these buns accurately represents how they feel when you bite into them. Among my fellow taste testers, this bun converted even a non-hot cross bun eater, which to me says it all.
For more hot cross bun inspiration, check out my chocolate and orange hot cross bun recipe below, and don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel here.