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Searching for Simnel or hot cross buns? Our guide to the best local bakeries for Easter treats

PUBLISHED: 08:30 18 April 2014

The famous Dunn's Bakery in Crouch End sells four different types of hot cross buns

The famous Dunn's Bakery in Crouch End sells four different types of hot cross buns

Archant

With a glut of Easter treats vying for our attention, it can be hard to know where to go for your cinnamon hit. Phoebe Cooke finds the best places to buy your buns, Simnel cakes and hand-crafted chocolate eggs this Easter weekend across Camden and Haringey.

Creme egg cupcakes at Primrose BakeryCreme egg cupcakes at Primrose Bakery

THE HOT CROSS BUN

Background?

A spiced, sweet bun, whose white cross symbolises crucifixion. Traditionally eaten on Good Friday but now enjoyed all year round.

A slice of moist Simnel cake on sale at Black Truffle in England's LaneA slice of moist Simnel cake on sale at Black Truffle in England's Lane

Where’s best?

Dunn’s Bakery, Crouch End

The shop: Owner Christopher Freeman is a fifth generation baker in his 200-year-old family business and has worked in the shop for 40 years.

The bun? Dunn’s do hot cross buns properly – they have four different varieties, from the traditional white, to wholemeal, cranberry & GI and spelt.

Hand painted eggs at Melrose & MorganHand painted eggs at Melrose & Morgan

They say: “My favourite is the traditional hot cross bun. It’s a spicy bun full of moist fruits: California raisins, currants and citrus peel. It’s very nice, very more-ish. It’s made with either olive oil or extra virgin rapeseed oil, so quite a healthy option.”

We say: “Good value for a freshly-baked treat and Dunn’s do tasty takes on the classic hot cross bun. Several Ham&Highers profess themselves ‘converted’ to the wholemeal variety after tasting Dunn’s.”

How much: 85p for a traditional bun; £2.49 for a pack of four; £2.99 for wholemeal/spelt/cranberry. Also sell mini-packs of 9.

Opening times: Mon-Sat: 6am-6pm, Sun: 9am-5pm

Delicious Easter eggs on sale at Le Chocolatier in Highgate VillageDelicious Easter eggs on sale at Le Chocolatier in Highgate Village

Address: 6 The Broadway, Crouch End, London N8 9SN

Contact: 020 8340 1614

Also sell: Photo cakes, bath buns, everything bread-related you could possibly imagine...

THE SIMNEL CAKE

Background

A Lent treat, also associated with celebrating Mothering Sunday, the Simnel cake is a fruit creation with two layers of almond paste, on top and in the middle. Eleven balls of marzipan on top of the cake represent the 11 faithful apostles – Judas doesn’t usually make the cut.

It’s thought that the name derives from the Latin simila – meaning a fine white flour used for baking a cake. Another legend holds that a man and wife called Simon and Nell were arguing whether the cake for Mothering Sunday should be baked or boiled. Ultimately they did both, so the cake was named after both of them: ‘Simm-Nell”.

Where’s best?

Melrose & Morgan, Hampstead and Primrose Hill.

The shop: Excellently-designed, modern, chic deli in the heart of Primrose Hill which turns 10 this year. Light and spacious feel thanks to the enormous windows.

They say: “Full of spices and laced with Seville marmalade.”

We say: “Deliciously soft, rich but not cloying fruit cake. Wash it down with one of M&M’s silky smooth Americanos.”

How much: £2.75/slice, medium cake £12.50, large £22.50

Also sell: Easter egg shortbread, quails eggs, hand-painted Easter eggs, salted caramel sea gull eggs and many other savoury treats besides.

Address: 42 Gloucester Avenue, NW1 8JD

Contact: 020 7722 0011

Hampstead store: Oriel Hall, Oriel Place, NW3 1QN

Contact: 020 7794 6727

Opening times (for both stores): Mon-Fri 8am–7pm, Sat 8am–6pm, Sun 9am–5pm

Another great place? Black Truffle, England’s Lane

The shop: Spacious, high-ceilinged deli, the pick of a good bunch on this cafe and deli-lined idyll of a street.

They say: “I take a recipe and make it my own. Here I melted butter to make it more moist inside. I glaze it with apricot jam - it’s also a way for the almond paste to stick on, and adds another flavour. And I make it with light brown sugar, rather than caster.” [Georgia Green, chef]

We say: “Freshly baked by in-house chef Georgia Green, the cake was deliciously moist and audaciously fruity, with a satisfying crust.”

How much: £3 a slice, £25-£28 for a whole cake

Also sell: Hot cross buns (they are making their own in Easter week), Easter cookies, sumptuous salads

Address: 41 England’s Lane, NW3 4YD

Opening times: Mon-Fri 7.30am-8pm, Sat 7.30am-6pm, Sun 8.30am-7pm

THE HOT CROSS BUN CUPCAKE

Where: Primrose Bakery, a cupcake’s throw from Melrose & Morgan in Gloucester Avenue

They say: “It’s a spiced sponge with cinnamon, allspice and a cream cheese icing. A new invention that we’ve done this year for Easter.”

We say: “Bourgeois baking gone mad, perhaps, but this is a very tasty invention with lots of candied fruit in a nice, light sponge. Pleasing contrast between the lightness of the sponge, the dense icing and crisp hot cross bun furnishings.”

How much? £3.25

Also sell: Creme egg cupcakes, chocolate popcorn Easter cupcakes

Address: 69 Gloucester Avenue, NW1 8LD

Contact: primrosehill@primrose-bakery.co.uk

Opening Times: Mon-Sat 8:30am-6pm, Sun 9:30am-6pm

THE CHOCOLATE EGG

Where’s best? Le Chocolatier, Highgate Village

The shop: Nestled like a warm egg in the heart of Highgate, you will have an enjoyable hunt here for the best Easter present

We say: “An astonishing array of egg-shaped delicacies - for an Easter present for a loved one you can’t go wrong.”

Address: 78 Highgate High St, London N6 5HX

Contact: 020 8348 1110

Opening times: Mon-Sun 10am-6pm


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