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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hot Cross Buns: Class vs. Tradition

Posted By on Wed, Mar 31, 2010 at 8:30 AM

click to enlarge Sandbox Bakery (left), Dianda's (right).
  • Sandbox Bakery (left), Dianda's (right).

You have two days left before Good Friday to source your annual hot cross bun breakfast. I went looking this week, and came across rworange's 2009 Bay Area hot cross bun ranking on Chowhound, the kind of obsessive act that validates the existence of the Internet (bonus link: the buns she hated). Unfortunately, rworange moved to Guatemala before she could update the full list this year, but most of the bakeries she rates are still around, presumably using the same recipes.

If only to honor the season, I picked up a couple of hot-cross buns over the past couple of days, and exposed a few of my roots in the process. I took a couple of polite

bites of the elegant bun from Sandbox

Bakery in Bernal Heights ― look at that even glaze! the precise

lemon-curd cross! the bits of raisin and house-candied citrus rind

peeking out! ― and then set it aside. (Did you know that Sandbox has melonpan in addition to its croissants and negi-miso challah knots? Now that's a real find.)

The buns from Dianda's Italian

Pastry in the Mission, displayed by the sheet pan and often purchased in

the same quantity, are loosely marked with piped custard, shiny with

sugar glaze, and packed with neon-hued candied fruits. They

taste like the (hot) cross between an Entenmann's danish and a slice of

Trader Joe's stollen ― in short, just like the ones mom used to buy. I devoured the

whole bun before I left my parking space, fingers sticking to the

steering wheel as I drove away.

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Jonathan Kauffman


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