For Mark Free, owner of Everyday Coffee, hot cross buns always played a big part in childhood Easter celebrations. “My mum was actually a priest – one of the first women, Anglican priests – so Easter was always a pretty big deal in our house,” says Free. “Mum always worked on Easter; it was a busy day. We were left at home to our own devices and could eat as many hot cross buns as we wanted, unsupervised.”
They weren’t gorging on homemade buns, though. “My dad was always a keen baker, but I was never too stoked on his hot cross buns,” says Free. “They were a little bit bland, a little bit dry. I probably preferred the bought ones to dad’s hot cross buns.” These days, Free’s experience of hot cross buns is anything but bland (sorry Dad).
Left-of-centre flavours like Bakers Delight’s new Berry Ripe Hot Cross Bun are more Free’s speed than the standard fruit-and-spice style. Even with the souped-up buns, Free is happy to take things a little further. “You could put a scoop of ice-cream on that for sure,” says Free. “A little ice-cream sandwich would be delish. Still toast it, so that it’s just sloppy and dripping and you’d probably eat it over the sink. A sort of Bridget Jones, in-your-PJs guilty pleasure, I reckon. I wouldn’t be shy to still put butter on it as well, to get that salty-sweet combo.”
Before you dismiss Free’s next serving suggestion, remember that genius is rarely appreciated in its time. “I’m not opposed to putting an egg on it,” says Free. “I would toast it, good amount of butter, then just a fried egg, sunny side up. A little bit of chilli or garlic chilli oil on top. It’s a perfect marriage between a berry hot cross bun and a McMuffin.”
Coffee and buns
Free’s beverage pairing of choice is obviously coffee, preferring Everyday Coffee’s autumn blend, filter-style to wash down those hot cross buns. “They’re pretty good standalone and the only thing that makes it better is washing it down with a black coffee,” says Free. “Even just dunking it in. It’s kind of comparable to that donut vibe.”
Coffee, it turns out, is a particularly appropriate choice for a berry choc-flavoured hot cross bun. “Coffee comes from a berry too, so it’s no wonder they go together.”
A touch of tradition after all
Despite being able to get hot cross buns for a good chunk of the year, Free shows a hint of tradition and sticks to just the Easter period. “I am quite a fan of seasonal foods,” says Free. “I don’t hold it against anyone who wants to eat a hot cross bun any day of the year, that’s their prerogative. I say if it feels good, do it as long as you’re not hurting anyone. But for me, I think it’s nice to have little traditions and keep things special sometimes.”
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Bakers Delight. Bakers Delight’s new Berry Ripe Hot Cross Bun is baking for a limited time until March 16.