Some­thing for every bunny:

What do you get when you (hot) cross tra­di­tion with new trends? From in­no­va­tive treats to the flex­i­ble Sun­day menu, we’ve dis­cov­ered that the proof is in the hot cross bun pud­ding, says MEG MASON

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - NEWS -

From in­no­va­tive treats to flex­i­ble Sun­day menus, we’ve got your Easter sorted

Easter has a way of sneak­ing up on us – we’re barely sure when it falls un­til we think to google – and per­haps it’s for that rea­son that this par­tic­u­lar hol­i­day of­fers the op­por­tu­nity to be more flex­i­ble than, say, Christ­mas.

“There’s a slower pace to Easter,” says chef Hay­den Quinn. “It’s such a beau­ti­ful time of year to gather peo­ple to­gether, with­out wor­ry­ing about a mil­lion other things. It’s the end of sum­mer, that chill in the air. No mat­ter what Easter means to you, there’s some­thing to cel­e­brate.”

We set about un­cov­er­ing the lat­est Easter trends that raise the ques­tion: is this our new favourite hol­i­day?

HOT CROSS BUN FUN

“More and more we’re see­ing riffs on clas­sic Easter flavours,” says de­li­cious. ed­i­tor-in-chief Ker­rie McCal­lum. “Es­pe­cially the hot cross bun, which lends it­self to rein­ter­pre­ta­tion, with its fruity, spicy, al­most caramel el­e­ments.”

Think a crois­sant/hot cross bun hy­brid from Syd­ney’s Victoire Boulan­gerie; buns from Mel­bourne’s Baker Bleu of sour cherry and choco­late. For the peel-averse, Chez Dre in Mel­bourne cre­ates a cit­rus tang with whole pureed or­anges. High-street stal­wart Max Bren­ner has tiny one-bite buns ,and Syd­ney’s Bourke Street Bak­ery is again mak­ing its hot cross loaf.

“We’re purists,” ex­plains Bourke Street’s David McGuin­ness. “No choco­late, no fancy stuff. We did the loaf purely be­cause we can’t pro­duce enough hot cross buns to meet de­mand, but it’s still based on that great tra­di­tional recipe – peel, fruit, spices – in a yeast risen but­tery brioche.”

We’ve even seen hot cross bun gin from Lon­don-based Gin Tales, while Koko Black merges their flavours into mini choco­late eggs.

CULT OF THE CREME EGG

The Cad­bury Creme Egg has ac­quired cult sta­tus, in­spir­ing chefs to cre­ate kitschy trib­utes, such as the Scotch Creme Egg by Bri­tish chef Ben Churchill (the egg wrapped in rolled Oreo fill­ing and crumbed in smashed bis­cuit). Home bak­ers are at­tempt­ing hot cross buns con­tain­ing an en­tire Creme Egg, and we’re all about the Creme Egg mar­tini.

ART­WORK EGGS

At the other end of the spec­trum, ar­ti­sanal eggs are be­com­ing more beau­ti­ful and in­no­va­tive every year, like our cover stars from the tal­ented Aymee Slaviero of Co­coa Nib in the Hunter Val­ley.And there’s also a no­table move to­wards health­ier al­ter­na­tives to the milk bunny, with choco­latiers ex­per­i­ment­ing with raw co­coa and co­coa nibs, or­ganic and fair-trade in­gre­di­ents, and sweet­en­ers such as maple syrup to meet de­mand.

“The qual­ity of the in­gre­di­ents is key, as well as the cre­ativ­ity of the prod­uct,” says Arno Backes, of Mel­bourne’s Ganache. “The trend is to­wards choco­late that is lower in sugar, as peo­ple veer away from in­dus­trial prod­ucts.” The ‘Mel­bourne graf­fiti bunny’ at Gâ­nache typ­i­fies the emer­gence of the elab­o­rate egg, with spun, wo­ven, dot­ted, painted or mar­bled fin­ishes al­most too pretty to eat.

Zumbo’s Bun­zil­las are pas­tel per­fect; Xo­co­latl’s Art Se­ries – eggs that pay trib­ute to Jack­son Pol­lock, Banksy and Pi­casso – is right­fully fa­mous. Sisko’s Lace easter egg is, clichés aside, a work of art. But it’s not just ar­ti­sanal choco­latiers – re­tail­ers Haigh’s and Koko Black are bring­ing high-qual­ity, mid-priced eggs to the widest mar­ket, with on­line ship­ping na­tion­wide.

BRUNCH NOT LUNCH?

Af­ter choco­late and fes­tive carbs, en­ter­tain­ing is up: “It’s more re­laxed,” says chef and au­thor Sil­via Col­loca. “You’re not un­der that pres­sure to cre­ate dishes the way they are sup­posed to be.”

As well as the tra­di­tional Sun­day roast – for which Col­loca rec­om­mends a slow-cooked lamb shoul­der for its makea­head, can’t-fail fac­tor – con­sider Sun­day brunch. Since pas­tries are not re­li­ably avail­able over the Easter week­end, Col­loca sug­gests serv­ing a hot cross bun but­ter pud­ding, stud­ded with choco­late eggs ,with a thick Ital­ian hot choco­late. “One thing I al­ways do at Easter is a spinach and ri­cotta pie with olive oil pas­try – my fam­ily, I think, would be up in arms if it wasn’t on of­fer,” she says.

Com­pared to the long-range menu plan­ning Christ­mas re­quires, the vari­a­tion in Easter weather makes last-minute prep a more sen­si­ble play, ac­cord­ing to Dar­ren O’Rourke, head butcher at Syd­ney’s Vic­tor Churchill. “You’re mak­ing that bridge from cold to hot food, so you can de­cide whether to do a potato gratin with rich, hearty meats for colder weather, or keep it fresh and vine­gary if it’s still warm.” He name-checks green tomato with dill, and spicy lab­neh as sides to roasted pork – with a crisp side of ba­con (crack­ling on steroids!) – a whole poached sal­mon, or a skirt steak with chimichurri.

“You can do your own thing and re­ally de­fine it your­self,” adds Quinn. “Try things you wouldn’t re­ally have time for nor­mally. Whether that’s go­ing for amaz­ing fresh Viet­namese flavours, or do­ing Greek-Le­banese dips, sides, breads, sauces, sal­ads – lots of lit­tle pieces that come to­gether be­cause you have time to cel­e­brate over a long meal.”

That is, be­fore see­ing to Easter’s favourite tra­di­tion – deal­ing with the choco­late sur­plus.

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