Get those Buns in the Oven, says Alice Smellie


Of all the appealing foods available over the Easter season, Hot Cross buns have always seemed like the poor relative. To be honest, they’re like loser tea cakes; those currant buns which you toast and which are available all year around as well as being far larger. Why muck around with fruity bread when you can have an Easter egg, has been my prevailing feeling for forty odd years.

But I’ve experienced a change of heart towards these spicy raisined buns. This is down to the simple fact that supermarkets, desperate to give everything a unique twist, have created versions which are so delicious that I’ve had to impose rationing or face being bun-shaped myself.

‘I toasted one, slathered it in butter, and had an epiphany’


It all started when Waitrose kindly sent me some chocolate and orange samples. Initially I ignored them and put them in the breadbin to go the way of all novelty bread in our house: a slow hardening, then mouldiness and finally the bin. But then we ran out of granary bread, and it was a Sunday and my head hurt.

So I toasted one, slathered it in butter, and had an epiphany. The orange peel had a slightly bitter, tart taste – like that found in expensive marmalade. The chocolate had melted into the bun during the toasting experience, and when combined with the butter, tasted like chocolate spread. This, with the softness of the bun, the comforting warmth (I was a little hungover) and the burst of the raisins as I chewed, basically made me rethink my entire attitude. It was as though Willy Wonka had visited the boring bun factory and diversified the Oompa Loompas’ skill set.

Chocolate orange were just the gateway drug. Over the last few days I have also tasted the Chai Ginger ones from Tesco – my personal favourite, Tesco Mango and Papaya – too sweet, but a lovely crunch of dried fruit and then I ran out, so I had to drive to Sainsburys and invest in their Belgian chocolate chip variety.

Now, I am just sad that it’s only a week till Good Friday and my frenzy will be forced to come to an end.


Waitrose Mini Chocolate Orange Hot Cross Buns, £1.69,
Tesco Finest Chai Ginger and Seeded Hot Cross Buns, £1.50 (2 for £2,
Tesco Finest Mango, Pineapple and Papaya Hot Cross Buns, £1.50 (2 for £2),
Asda Extra Special All Butter Fudge Hot Cross Buns, £1.20 (2 for £2),
Sainsburys Taste The Difference Mini Belgian Triple Choc Cross Buns, £1.40,