Easter Taste test, and some cake-shaking ideas

Ive tasted a lot of buns recently, but it isnt that hard to make your own.

Wow Easter already…it only feels not that long ago that I packed the tinsel away  bunged the fairy lights in a bag forgetting that I will have to untangle them again in December.

If you follow this blog or me on twitter you would know I have been busy, one of my favourite things I have done leading up to Easter is to be invited by A fellow blogger ( and much more prolific than me) known as  Eats Dulwich to take part with other fellow bloggers and tweeters from Dulwich to partake in a taste test of Hot cross buns from our surrounding local bakeries.

I wont divulge the results, but I have, with permission, pasted the actual post from Eats Dulwich at the end of this post for you to read yourself, you can also follow her blog by finding the link in my blog roll.

So what are you planning for Easter nothing ? Sitting around watching various biblical movies whilst sucking the middle out of a cream egg ? well I have looked through my blog and come up with how you can use some of the recipes and ideas on here already and try them with an easter twist.

Malteser cheesecake – Why not try with Cadburys mini eggs ! I haven’t yet so be the first and let me know how it went 😉

Hot cross buns– try with marzipan or with the usual fruit

Panettone  bread & butter pudding, but using left over hot cross buns, tear them instead of slicing and pour over the egg custard, add chocolate chips or more fruit.

Make a manic bunny 🙂

Carrot cake cup cakes– Well tenuous I know, but at least theses ones have a rabbit on them 😉

Any way here’s the results of the Eats Dulwich hot cross bun taste test –

© The Cake-Shaker 2011


14 APRIL 2011

Who sells the best Hot Cross Buns?

With Easter looming we thought we’d get out there and sample the hot cross buns on offer in and around East Dulwich to bring you the lowdown. Sadly there appears to be some sort of food shortage in these parts because there was a distinct lack of dried fruit to be found in practically all the hot cross buns we tried…
Following on from the success of our brownie tasting last year, we gathered together a panel of local food lovers and experts and set about tasting what the bakeries and cafes of East Dulwich and nearby Herne Hill and Nunhead had to offer.
Our esteemed tasting panel included: Mark (a pastry chef at Spring Studios who lives in East Dulwich and writes his blog The Cake Shaker), Huey (founder of Bambuni, a new delicatessen and coffee shop which will be opening soon in Nunhead), Jessica (East Dulwich resident, blogger, and co-author of The Midlife Manual), Jane (local Dulwich resident and food lover) and me (The Ginger Gourmand).
All of the hot cross buns were bought on the morning of the tasting so we could taste them at their best and it was a blind tasting so that no preconceptions or favoritism could creep in! Sadly some places we tried (including Franklins, Badger Bakery, Frog on the Green, Vintage Pretty, Blue Mountain, Le Chandelier, Green & Blue, French Cafe, Jacks and Anderson & Co) either weren’t selling them or hadn’t got any on the day of the tasting.
Luca’s Bakery – 30/50

This hot cross bun beat the others hands down on texture, colour, flavour, glaze, spices…well everything, but for one supremely important factor – the fruit. Where was it? Had they run out when they were baking this batch or was it that SE London dried fruit shortage which was hampering their baking prowess?

Now, we know that dried fruit is an essential ingredient in any hot cross bun and we also know that this specimen didn’t contain anywhere near enough to please the panel. But this sweet, spicy bun was the best of what was a mediocre bunch. It had a good texture, some discernible spice and a lovely sticky glaze, as well as an edible cross.

So, the Luca’s Bakery hot cross bun was our lacking-in-fruit winner. Come on Luca’s get some more fruit in that bun!

Price: 70p

Luca’s Bakery
145 Lordship Lane
SE22 8HX
Tel: 020 8613 6161

ED Deli – 23/50


This one had a rustic, homemade look. There was plenty of spice and a fair amount of dried fruit and candied peel (depending on which piece you got…), so it was along the right lines. But it was quite small and on the dry side. It was however one of the most expensive hot cross buns at £1.20.

Price: £1.20

ED Deli
15-17 Lordship Lane
SE22 8EW
Tel: 020 8693 2525Hirst & Sons Bakery – 23/50JOINT SECOND

A very pale bun with tasty fruit, good (if sparse) glaze and some spice. To sum it up – ‘could do better’ – all the elements were there, it just needed a bit more of everything. What it did score highly on was being old school – white, unpretentious, sweet and steeped in nostalgia.

Price: 65p

Hirst & Sons Bakery
43 Lordship Lane
SE22 8EW
Tel: 020 8299 1292

Homemade (Boulangerie Jade) – 21/50

The hot cross bun at Homemade is supplied by Boulangerie Jade and, judging by their excellent breads and pastries, we’d had high hopes for this one, so were a little surprised when we discovered which one it was after the tasting. It was walking a fine line between sweet roll and bread roll – not sweet enough, fairly dense and the crust was a tad dry.

As with all of the buns, it needed MORE FRUIT! Its most redeeming feature was the spice – beautifully spiced and tasted just like a hot cross bun should taste. You could almost imagine the aromas of cinnamon wafting through the air if this one had been popped under the grill.

Price: £1.50

44 Barry Road
SE22 0HU

Shepherd Food (Kingsmill) – 17/50

The offering at Shepherd Foods turned out to be a pack of Kingsmill hot cross buns. It was nice and sticky, just like a hot cross bun should be but suffered from the same lack of fruit as the others. Everyone commented that it tasted a bit “manufactured” or “supermarkety” – it’s good to know the panel’s tastebuds were working well! A middle of the road hot cross bun.

Price: 69p for 4

Shepherd Foods
88 Dulwich Village
SE21 7AQ
Tel: 020 8693 4644

Romeo Jones – 13.5/50

With a promising appearance we had high hopes for this one… They obviously aren’t suffering the same dried fruit shortages over in the Village because this one had plenty of good fruit, but where it scored highly on fruit content it let itself down with a lack of spice and a very strong taste of salt.

It was hard to tell whether the bun as a whole was oversalted, or just the cross on top. Whichever way, it left a strange after taste.

Price: £1.50

Romeo Jones
80 Dulwich Village
SE21 7AJ
Tel: 0208 299 1900

Ayres the Bakers – 11/50

Good looking bun with good colour and a lovely shiny glaze in parts. One panel member went so far as to call it “attractive” (but that could say more about them than the bun…). The texture was a bit too soft and airy (although it would probably lend itself well to being toasted and slathered with butter) and the peel had a slightly sour taste.

Again, this one needed lots more quality fruit.

Price: 70p

Ayres the Bakers
131-133 Evelina Road
SE15 3HB
Tel: 020 7639 0648

Blackbird Bakery – 5/50 

We wondered whether this batch of hot cross buns were priced so reasonably (for East Dulwich…) because something had gone wrong with the batch – the bottoms were a bit burnt and they tasted for all the world like they’d been put in the oven and forgotten. There was practically no fruit, a thick crust and an overriding burnt taste. A real shame for a bakery which produces such tasty real bread.

Price: 50p (or 6 for £2.50)

Blackbird Bakery
46 Grove Vale
SE22 8DY
Tel: 020 8613 1402

Kindred Bakery – 5/50 

The funny thing about doing a blind tasting is that it can turn up unexpected results – there’s no baggage to influence your decision. And so it was with great surprise that we disclovered that the hot cross bun from Kindred Bakery came joint last.

Did this batch suffer a similar fate to those from Blackbird Bakery? The bottoms were burnt, the dough too chewy, the fruit was shredded as if it had been added to the dough too early and there was a saltiness which was off-putting.

Price: 95p

Kindred Bakery
23 Half Moon Lane
SE24 9JU
Tel: 020 7642 0799


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