Hot cross buns
When I was about five and first learning how to play the piano, one of my first songs was “Hot Cross Buns.” What were these things, I wondered. Cinnamon buns with an icing cross on top? The visuals in the songbook looked good enough to eat.
But it wasn’t until about fifteen years later that I actually had my first real hot cross bun in the U.K. What a revelation! A soft roll, studded with dried fruit and topped with a dough cross. My roommates toasted them and slathered them in butter and served them with tea. Other days, we’d toast them and top them with marmalade and cheddar cheese. Yes, cheese! It was a magical time.
Now that we’re back in the states, I continue to long for those perfect hot cross buns around Easter. Supermarket bakeries have all disappointed. I’ve gagged on one variety that used green candied fruit. It was the culinary antichrist. The closest that we’ve found have been the hot cross buns at Panera Bread. Still unorthodox, since their version is made with dried strawberries (that strangely taste like raisins to me) and they use icing as the cross, but it’s serviceable, soft and still tastes good when toasted and buttered and served with a hot cup of tea. They sell them Friday through Sunday in the run up to Easter and I’ve started to call up and reserve a half dozen since they typically are sold out by mid-morning.
I should add that these are not one-a-penny, or two-a-penny. They’re $6.99 for six of them.