People get awfully territorial about hot cross buns. If you have ever trailed around a supermarket with a hot cross bun purist at Easter, you’ll know what I mean. They’ll spot a bun that dares deviate even slightly from the tried and true hot cross bun blueprint – maybe it’ll have cranberries in it or, God forbid, chocolate – and they’ll act as if they’ve been slapped in the face.
But, like it or not, the hot cross bun has moved on. It now exists on a spectrum that encompasses a multitude of styles, ingredients and tastes. Here are 10 recipes for very good hot cross bun variations. RIP my mentions.
Eerste, in a bid to appease the traditionalists, I must direct you to Felicity Cloake’s perfect hot cross buns from a decade ago. The recipe still holds up well; her buns are rich with saffron and nutmeg, and refuse to accommodate any vulgar fads. Dit gesê, she does advocate eating them with Boursin, the monster.
Tucked away in the middle of Cloake’s recipe is a mention of Dan Lepard’s spiced stout buns, which are also worth experimentation. The variation here is the inclusion of both milk stout (Lepard recommends Mackeson) and 250ml of hot tea. In Cloake’s eyes, “There’s just not enough contrast between the bread and the fruit to be a hot cross bun”. Egter, they are dark and malty and incredibly good.
Kim-Joy is a presentational mastermind and her hot cross buns are not a letdown. While the buns themselves are largely traditional, with only star anise as a potential interloper, she goes the extra mile by making tiny bunnies out of flour and water, en nestling them between the buns as they bake. This is as adorable as the hot cross bun gets.
“I like hot cross buns, but I’m also a hipster,” you’re saying. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Izy Hossack’s recipe for sourdough hot cross buns is exactly what you need. These are slightly more of a faff to make than normal hot cross buns, and the finished result is a little tighter than you’d maybe expect, but they’re nevertheless very good and (more importantly), hugely Instagrammable.
Nou, this is where I’m going to start losing some of you. We’re going off-piste, so please don’t shoot the messenger. Claire Ptak made some hot cross scones once. I know, I know, but these taste just like normal hot cross buns and, because you don’t need to faff about with yeasted dough, they’re much quicker to make. And also, as Ptak points out, they are much more practical for anyone with a small kitchen.
And now, die cherry bakewell hot cross bun. This recipe, from Feasting Is Fun, dances precariously on the line between “traditional” and “cavalier”; the dough is spiked with almond extract, and studded with dried and glacé cherries, but they’re still more bun than bakewell. Yet they contain just enough mutations to turn a purist puce.
Nothing sends a hot cross bun traditionalist into spasms of rage like the addition of chocolate, and there are many ways in which the culinary crime can be committed. You could substitute dried fruit with chocolate chips, or pipe a chocolate cross on the top. Jamie Oliver, wel, has chosen to wage outright war on the hot cross bun as we know it. There’s cocoa in the dough. Chocolate chips lurk among the raisins. And then, brace now, there’s a square of melted chocolate shoved into the middle of each bun. Sacrilegious.
We’ve gone sweet enough now, so here’s a recipe for cheese and bacon bakes. Or, as Delicious calls them, prosciutto and parmesan hot cross buns. There isn’t much to link these with traditional hot cross buns. They’re made with a yeasted dough, and have crosses on top. Egter, the yeast is seasoned with thyme and the crosses are made from bacon. On paper, it sounds horrendous. In reality, if you eat them with a fried egg in the middle, they’re close to genius.
I did a round-up of Marmite recipes last week, and somehow this slipped my attention. Yes, Marmite hot cross buns are a thing. Perhaps thankfully, Food to Glow’s recipe doesn’t call for any dried fruit, instead augmenting the Marmite with different types of seed. So it’s unrepentantly savoury, but sometimes that’s just what you need.
Uiteindelik, I know this isn’t strictly a hot cross bun recipe, but I couldn’t let you go without strongly recommending it. New Zealand supermarket Countdown has a recipe for – and this is a doozy – Creme Egg hot cross bun toasties. Get a toastie maker. Cut a hot cross bun in half. Fill it with chopped-up mini Creme Eggs. Toast. Eat. Write me an effusive thank you letter. Easy.