Hot cross buns cost more than a penny in 2022 but they're worth it
With Easter here I've started thinking more intently about hot cross buns. They're delicious, yes, but where did they come from? And were they actually ever sold anywhere for a penny as the song implies?
These yeasty treats filled with fruit and currants seem simple enough to make and yet there's so much conjecture about what constitutes a good one - and indeed in whose oven they originated. In researching these two things I hit many dead ends, mostly because opinions are so varied on what counts as a top notch hot cross bun! Some "experts" want a proper crust, others are very finicky about the spices used, while more than a few are fixated on the aroma as the determining factor in taste.
As for the origin story, this is something we can only piece together from scattered internet tales, many of which have seemingly arisen from little more than flowery banter. Now I'm not doubting all of these accounts, but it's hard for anyone to make sense of a mythology that covers the kitchen habits of ancient druids, the bun preferences of Romans and Greeks, or that introduces decrees issued by the Queen of England. Really, where do you start? We at least know that hot cross buns are marked with a cross to represent the Christian belief that Jesus died on a cross, which is why they are typically served on Good Friday. But let's pull out the cooking knife early on the other stuff.
Perhaps the pricing recipe is a more appropriate angle for our needs at Mozo. So in preparation for the weekend ahead, I did some cursory checks on the going price for a half dozen buns in 2022. As we know the cost of living has been swelling like leavened bread lately, from petrol to groceries, a cup of coffee and even at-home energy bills. So there's little need to compound this problem by overpaying for underdone sugar buns!
Your local bakery probably has a good deal on some gourmet-level breads and I'd recommend trying those. But if you're after a quick fix for the family at a potentially lower cost, the supermarkets do some good work, too. For example, a six-pack of hot cross buns at Coles or Woolies goes for just $3.50, while Aldi buns are said to be quite tasty and fetch for only $2.99 a pack. If you're adverse to a supermarket bun, I've always enjoyed the work of Bakers Delight come Easter or Christmas: their six-pack is more dear however, at $8. That's a step up so you'd want them to be pretty good.
For the home bakers and those trying to save, you can easily make your own and possibly have many more than six on hand for the weekend. You'll just need a few basics like flour (about $2), yeast (about $4), caster sugar (about $2), fruit and currants (about $5) and eggs (about $3). Plus a few other essentials that most have in the cupboard like salt. That's around $16 by my count but also gives you 12 to 15 buns.
With that much sticky dough in your belly you'd be happy to accept just about any half-baked history, right?
If you're looking for more ways to save in 2022, we have a whole guide on the Cost Of Living and how to better tackle it.