Hot cross fun: Millennials love wacky Easter buns but tradition’s lure remains

All sugar and no spice? Shoppers and bakers are divided on what makes a real hot cross bun.

All sugar and no spice? Shoppers and bakers are divided on what makes a real hot cross bun. Photo: Getty

Traditionalists, look away. The sacred hot cross bun is getting wackier and weirder than before, and the generation behind ‘food porn’ and smashed avo is fuelling the modern flavour trend.

From hot cross burgers, to ice cream sandwiches and triple-chocolate flavours, millennials have taken over the Easter classic.

Australian cafes and supermarket chains have targeted millennials with their Easter baking campaigns, releasing limited edition flavours and recipe ideas well ahead of the busy period.

Woolworths Bakery Manager, Andy Thomas, told The New Daily that while traditional hot cross buns remain the most popular, younger consumers are “looking for flavour innovation”. 

According to its shopper survey, 25- to 34-year-olds have also developed a curious taste for bun-dunking – with some even dipping a fresh batch in juice. 

A spokesperson from Coles said the introduction of new flavours to its hot cross bun range was also largely inspired by millennials.

Aldi told The New Daily it has added a brioche hot cross bun to its classic collection to tailor to consumers’ demands.

The popular holiday treat has also inspired thousands of foodie posts on Instagram and Twitter.

Foodies show off their buns online

Melbourne’s Balwyn Canteen is cashing in on the Easter trend with its “killer” hot cross burger and shake meal.

Sydney’s Butcher & The Farmer released this beast of a bun at the weekend.

Marketing genius or foodie sin? Woolworths promotes its fruitless hot cross bun with this salty recipe idea.

One foodie created the perfect solution for the avocado toast generation.

Have we gone too far?

Despite the growing popularity of new varieties, not everyone is happy about the marketing trend, with bleary-eyed bakers telling The New Daily the classic fruit and spice bun is here to stay.

This year’s Australian Bakery Championships hot cross bun winner Good Loaf Bakery in Bendigo said it couldn’t even “entertain the idea” of doing non-traditional buns at its store.

“We’ve converted people who like non-fruit or chocolate ones,” Erin Pethybridge from Good Loaf told The New Daily. 

Good Loaf bakery

Good Loaf Bakery was assessed on aroma, fruit distribution, shape and volume to take out the national hot cross bun title. Photo: Facebook

“It must have spices, the fruit and the cross,” Ms Pethybridge said.

“We’re judged on spices, but it can’t be too overpowering. You also need good quality and distribution of fruit so each bite has to have a piece of fruit in it. We use sultanas and currants, but mixed peel as well.”

Bakers Delight group CEO Elise Gillespie told The New Daily that some of the newer varieties don’t qualify as hot cross buns.

“The cross alone doesn’t make it a hot cross bun. If you can’t taste any spice mix I question if it’s a hot cross bun,” she said.

War on early sales

Bakers have also questioned the earlier timing of hot cross bun sales.

Traditionally eaten on Good Friday to mark the end of Lent, the spiced treat is expected to fly off shelves ahead of the Easter long weekend.

But that hasn’t stopped many retailers cashing in on the craze early, with some shoppers spotting hot cross buns in Woolworths and Coles right after Christmas.

In 2014, Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses in Victoria wrote an open letter to the managing directors of Coles and Woolworths pleading with them to keep the sacred buns off shelves until six weeks out from Easter Sunday.

The bakehouse launched a ‘Not Cross Bun’ in the same year, with sale proceeds going to charity, but ultimately canned the smiley bun range after it was largely ignored by retailers.

Bakers launched war on early hot cross bun sales with this smiley edition. Photo: Ferguson Plarre

“We had some great support from the media and customers as part of our Not Cross Bun campaign but ultimately were unsuccessful in persuading other bakeries to resist from selling hot cross buns straight after Christmas,” Daniel Worthington from Plarre Foods said. 

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