Every year around this time I do a little taste-run of hot cross buns in Melbourne. Ostensibly it’s to provide blog readers with information but really it’s just an excuse to eat a lot of fruity, spicy, sticky bread (I’m a purist – chocolate chips should not be found in hot cross buns!).

Sadly this year’s Hot Cross Buns challenge has been curtailed by my being away in the lead-up to Easter. I’ve only managed to sample the buns from Fatto o Mano but feel free in the comments to let everyone know the location of your favourite buns!

Fatto o Mano is a little organic bakery nestled down the bottom end of Gertrude Street, near Birdman Eating and Ladro. The storefront can be easy to miss if you’re not looking for it, but its location is often signalled by a lunchtime queue and if you look closely you’ll be lured by the rows of loaves and rounds of pizza in the window.

To make the most of my single hot cross bun outing, I bought three buns as well as a coffee scroll, vegan cookie and three slices of pizza, all on the recommendation of Twitter. Grand total $27.

First, the main event – the hot cross buns. RM and I seriously pondered our judgement and decided that while the generously proportioned buns were quite good, they weren’t amazing. I like my buns with chunkier fruit whereas RM thought that the fruit quotient was spot on. We both agreed that we liked our buns spicier. Finally, the airy, squishy texture was fantastic – nothing worse than a rock hard bun.

Out of all my other purchases, my favourite was the coffee scroll. It’s not something that I would normally order as I don’t drink coffee (but I do eat coffee-flavoured products!) but this huge scroll is worth a repeat visit. The swirl of thick cinnamon-spiced bread was topped with an enticingly aromatic coffee icing that you could smell through the brown paper bag.

Our three slices of pizza were potato and olive, mushroom and pancetta. The base was more of a sturdy bready variety than traditional Italian pizza a taglio and the fresh flavoursome toppings were very prettily arranged. For $4 a slice it was a bargain lunch but I didn’t fancy the base enough that I’d be lining up for it again.

My final item was the vegan cookie. The cookie is made with oats, cranberries and nuts and it was unpleasantly hard to chew, to the point of hurting my back molars. Perhaps it rates well compared to other vegan cookies but as I’m not vegan I can indulge in buttery, soft-centred cookies and won’t be switching my allegiances to vegan cookies any time soon.

    Fatto o Mano, 228 Gertrude St, Fitzroy 0+61 3 9417 5998

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