One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns. The fruity treats dominate supermarkets’ bakery aisles at this time of year, but retailers are mixing things up to keep consumers engaged.
Alongside the traditional offering of lightly-spiced and fruity treats, retailers are branching out with decadent salted caramel and chocolate variants, getting exotic with the likes of mango and even supersizing with buns designed for sharing.
Here’s what the mults have in store this Easter:
Fruit and chocolate dominate Easter, and Asda is tapping both trends with its new Extra Special hot cross buns – from the Triple Berry to All Butter Fudge variants and even mini Belgian Chocolate Hot Cross Buns for those looking for a smaller, more indulgent treat. They’re all £1.20 a pack.
Returning to shelves are Asda’s Extra Special Extra Fruity Hot Cross Buns and the Free From version which, thanks to a new recipe, is now vegan as well as gluten-free and £2.00 for a pack of four.
“Hot cross buns are Easter essentials and, with even more set to be eaten this year, we want to make sure we have a bun that tickles everyone’s taste buds,” said Sonia Collins, product developer at Asda. “Whether you’re obsessed with chocolate, prefer a fruity flavour, or live a vegan lifestyle, we’ve got options, ensuring something for all the family to enjoy.”
Aldi’s award-winning Specially Selected hot cross buns are returning for another year. Although there are no new products in the range, the discounter said recipes have been improved.
The range comprises Brioche Hot Cross Buns and Luxury Hot Cross Buns that are described as softer and spicier this year. Cranberry and Orange and Toffee and Belgian Chocolate variants are also returning. All are priced at 99p for a pack of four.
“At Aldi we know Easter wouldn’t be the same without a delicious hot cross bun and we are delighted with our range, which offers something for every palate,” said Julie Ashfield, joint managing director of corporate buying at Aldi UK.
Tesco reckons bigger is better and, to prove this, it is rolling out a Giant Hot Cross Bun that is four times the size of a normal one this Easter. It has an RSP of £1.00. The retailer is also offering consumers the chance to share smaller bites with Mini Toffee and Banana as well as Choc Chip ones.
Joining its line-up this year is the Tesco Finest Mango, Pineapple & Papaya Hot Cross Buns (RSP £1.50), which feature pineapple and papaya pieces, sultanas and a mango purée with coconut undertones.
It’s also taking inspiration from classic desserts, such as pancakes, which have inspired the Tesco Finest Maple Syrup and Blueberry Hot Cross Buns. Apple & Cinnamon and Toffee Fudge & Belgian Chocolate, all priced at £1.50 per four pack, or two packs for £2.00.
Taking inspiration from another traditional Easter treat, Waitrose has rolled out Heston Simnel-Inspired Hot Cross Buns. At £1.89 for two, they’re one of the more premium offerings this Easter, but are larger than a traditional hot cross bun and scented with orange and packed with vine fruits, marzipan pieces and nibbed almonds.
Other NPD from Waitrose includes Berry Cherry Hot Cross Buns, sold in packs of four, and Mini Chocolate Orange Hot Cross Buns available in a nine-pack for £1.69.
They join the likes of Wholemeal, Bramley Apple & Cinnamon and Richly Fruited buns on shelves, all of which are returning for another year.
Marks & Spencer
Paddington would be pleased! M&S has added a Sweet Orange Marmalade bun to its Easter range this year. Priced at £1.70 for four, they feature Seville orange marmalade, sultanas and candied orange and lemon peel. Offering another fruity hit is the new Blueberry Hot Cross Buns and a Salted Caramel & Chocolate variant.
If that were not indulgent enough, it is also rolling out Mini Double Chocolate Hot Cross Buns comprised of chocolate buns with dark Belgian chocolate pieces and milk chocolate chunks.
M&S is also going after breakfast with its Breakfast Hot Cross Mini Loaves that feature raisins, sultanas, dried cranberries, seeds, grains and toasted coconut. The NPD joins returning products, with new recipes, on shelf with flavours including cranberry & orange and Kentish Bramley apple.
The Co-op was one of the first to unveil its Easter range which, alongside hot cross buns, comprises an Easter doughnut, lemon meringue buns and hot cross bun spiced flapjacks.
When it comes to hot cross buns, The Co-op has gone after the key trends. “Easter is all about chocolate or fruit,” said Laurel Gilbert, product developer at The Co-op. Its NPD comprises Mini Chocolate & Fudge and Richly Fruited Hot Cross Buns, the latter, according to Gilbert, offering a simple but more indulgent take on the classic treat.
“The Chocolate & Fudge Hot Cross Buns are non-spiced and they’re mini, so really handy to eat on-the-go – you can have one and it doesn’t necessarily need to be buttered,” added Gilbert. “We’re all about convenience, so the mini option was a really obvious gap for us as we haven’t done it before.”
Also returning is The Co-op’s Irresistible Brioche Cranberry & Orange Hot Cross Buns and standard ones available pre-packed or from the in-store bakery.