One a penny two a penny, hot cross cakes!
AMONTH to go until easter and the annual crop of weird hot cross bun flavours has hit the shelves. Anyone for lemon curd, cheese-and-Marmite, or masala-and-chilli? Bacon hot cross buns are now ‘a thing’, too.
But the twist on the traditional bun is different this year. Instead of just changing the taste of the actual bun, supermarkets are changing the product — enter a whole host of new hot cross-flavoured foods and tipples: fudge, breakfast spread, rum, even beer, all with the spicy, fruity, cinnamon tang of the original...
PIECE OF CAKE
M&S Hot Cross Bun Cake (£2, Marks & Spencer, in store)
A CUPCAKE, or is it a hot cross cake? A fudgy, nutty sponge peppered with satisfying chunks of peel and raisins, finished with a spice-infused butter cream and hand decorated with an iced cross. Cupcakes can often be overly sweet and heavy on the topping, but this is nicely balanced, moist and 100 per cent moreish.
VERDICT: Better than the original thing. Purists may disagree but, given the choice, I would definitely opt for one of these with a cup of tea over a boring old bun any day.
A RUM DO
Sweet Little Hot Cross Rum Liqueur (£24.95 for 500ml, masterofmalt.com)
A RETRO tipple at its finest, this hot cross rum liqueur comes in a fancy heart-shaped bottle. At 18 per cent proof, it’s best drunk with ice so the alcohol doesn’t overpower the flavours, or blended with soda water to make a simple cocktail.
on first sip, sweet orange peel and cinnamon greets you but these sadly drown out any raisins and malted bread flavours you might be expecting. VERDICT: A fun after- dinner tipple that doesn’t quite tick all the boxes but nevertheless would look good on a bar trolley. Not forgetting liqueurs are every cook’s secret weapon to add oomph to glazes and sauces or whipped into cream for trifles and desserts.
SPREAD THE WORD
Joe & Seph’s Hot Cross Bun Caramel Spread (£4.99 for 230g, joeand sephs.co.uk)
WOWSERS! silky caramel, fat sultanas, mixed fruit peel, warming spices and a pinch of sea salt — this hot cross bun spread is something else.
spread over toast or pancakes in the morning, add a dollop to your
porridge or swirl over yoghurt or ice cream. or why not go the whole hog and add to buns for a double whammy of hot cross-ness!
VERDICT: Dangerously indulgent. Needs serious willpower not to eat it straight from the jar — save it for easter itself.
Hop Cross Bun Ale (£1.65 for 500ml, sainsburys.co.uk)
FOR anyone who likes their beer with more depth of flavour than a wishy-washy lager, this seasonal edition amber ale from Dorset brewery Hall & Woodhouse is for you. VERDICT: It’s sweet but not overly so with subtle hints of cinnamon and nutmeg that work well with the toasted biscuity notes, but it’s missing the fruity tang of raisins and orange peel that would make this really stand out. It’s an enjoyable beer that’s easy to drink and doesn’t scream ‘novelty’.
Hot Cross Tea (£3.50, bird andblendtea.com, available from March 12)
WE WERE expecting a musty hit of cinnamon to whack us round the chops with this tea but no. Brighton- based tea experts, Bird & Blend, specialise in ‘tea mixology’ and this softly spiced limited edition blend has sophisticated notes of hibiscus, apple, rosehip and orange peel blended with rooibos, sri Lankan black and lapsang
souchong teas. It tastes like easter in a cup.
VERDICT: this is a delight.
DAIRY MILK DREAM
Cadbury Dairy Milk Hot Cross Bun Chocolate (£1.25 for 110g, morrisons.com)
WHEN Cadbury’s does anything quirky to its Dairy Milk, the nation likes to have its say, so when this launched last year, the internet weighed in with criticism. It is actually a nice bar. Hints of spice and chewy raisins are well balanced, while crisped rice adds a toasted flavour. VERDICT: Ignore the keyboard warriors, it’s a treat. Be quick — it’s selling out everywhere.
Hot Cross Bun Fudge (£6, shop.rnli.org)
CREAMY fudge with vanilla, cinnamon and juicy raisins make perfect bedfellows and this offering, from family-run Cornish business Buttermilk, delivers on every level. soft and crumbly but not too sweet and no sickly aftertaste you sometimes get with cheaper fondant. VERDICT: the pretty box makes this a lovely gift.
Extremely Chocolatey giant Hot Cross Bun Egg (£9, ocado.com)
FULL marks for ingenuity because at first glance this textured hot cross egg really does look like a giant bun.
unfortunately, that’s where the similarity ends. Infused with spice and dotted with raisins and chunks of orange jelly, it’s the least convincing Hot Cross treat we tasted. VERDICT: It may not score highly on authenticity but the creamy, thick chocolate makes up for it.