Testing times for hot cross buns - 2014

Johannesburg - With Easter just a few weeks away, supermarket shelves are stocked with an assortment of hot cross buns, the traditional fare eaten on Good Friday.

I chose a selection of buns from supermarkets’ in-store bakeries as well as some off the shelf.

Trevor Gumbi, well known actor and comedian, Paul Zwick, pastry chef and owner of Patisserie de Paris in Blairgowrie, and Ntombi Ngcobo, singer, actress and TV presenter. Picture: Chris Collingridge. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

This was a blind tasting and the members of our panel were unaware of the origins of each sample.

They were asked to judge each bun for its appearance, the amount of fruit and spice present, texture, and value for money.

The buns were served plain, without being heated and without butter so the true flavour could be evaluated.

To judge the selection of buns, I invited Paul Zwick, pastry chef and owner of Patisserie de Paris in Blairgowrie; Trevor Gumbi, comedian, writer and actor, who is best known as co-host (and voice-over artist) of the Mzansi Magic entertainment magazine show Headline; and Ntombi Ngcobo, singer, television presenter and actress, who is best known as a member, with her siblings, of the maskandi group Amaponi.

Zwick, with his knowledge of the shape and texture the buns should have, gave a lot of technical input. Gumbi was far more interested in what the buns tasted like and his preference was for less spicy buns. Ngcobo examined each bun to see if it was symmetrical and that the crosses on top looked neat.

Overall the winning bun stood out by far. Although it was expensive, all said they would be happy to pay more for such a good quality and delicious bun.

Most of the buns lacked the spiciness you would expect and many contained little fruit.

1 Checkers bakery, Cresta Shopping Centre. R12.99/6

Zwick: Taste of the spices really comes through.

Gumbi: A bit hard, but they had a good amount of fruit and spice.

Ngcobo: Appeared quite dark but had lots of raisins and a good spicy taste.

2 Fournos Bakery in Little Falls. R18.00/6

Zwick: Very pretty to look at, but not enough spice for my taste.

Gumbi: Amazing, I really enjoyed it, the best ever!

Ngcobo: Lovely and fresh, with not too much spice.

3 Baked by the Pick n Pay Hypermarket in Boksburg. R12.00/6

Zwick: Very nice-looking bun with a good glaze and enough fruit, but very bland in taste.

Gumbi: Nice fluffy texture, but a bit tasteless.

Ngcobo: Very nice-looking, but it has a strange aftertaste.

4 Bakery at Pineslopes Spar in Fourways. R13.99/6

wick: Nice-sized bun with lots of fruit, but not enough spice.

Gumbi: Nice and fluffy with lots of fruit and a slight cinnamon taste.

Ngcobo: Nothing special about the bun and it has no glaze.

5 Woolworths Luxury, Nicolway shopping centre. R7.95 each

Zwick: Beautiful-looking. The most amazing amount of fruit and a good spicy taste. I would buy this bun any day.

Gumbi: Like a fruit explosion in my mouth, delicious!

Ngcobo: Lovely variety of fruit, expensive, but worth it.

6 Woolworths traditional buns available in all stores. R16.95/6

Zwick: Not impressive to look at, but it does have a nice spicy flavour.

Gumbi: Nothing special about this bun.

Ngcobo: A bit flat and unimpressive.

7 Food Lovers Market bakery, Nicolway shopping centre, Bryanston. R14.99/6

Zwick: This must be a budget version as there is no fruit in the bun.

Gumbi: Not bad-looking, but it’s hard to find any fruit in it.

Ngcobo: Not a bad taste, but could do with more fruit.

The overall winners were Woolworths luxury taking the top spot, Fournos coming in at second, and Checkers third. - The Star