There are many important questions the world is contemplating right now: when will Scott Morrison call the election? Will this pandemic ever end? This, my friends, is not one of those questions. Yet here we are, debating how to best prepare a hot cross bun for devouring.
It turns out, not everyone uses their toaster to warm up their HCBs. Some simply microwave them. What follows is a transcript of our conversation where we discovered this fact, followed by the pros and cons of the two differing ways to warm up this much-loved treat. (We taste-tested both methods in the office.) Let us just say this – the best way to judge your colleague’s character is by how they treat their Easter buns.
THE BIG REVEAL
Molly Urquhart, [ex-]social media editor: Wait, what? You microwave your HCBs?
Che-Marie Trigg, editor, Sydney : Yes.
MU: Do you put butter on after? And do you cut it open then microwave? Or put butter in through a pierced hole in the bun then microwave whole? That’s a concept.
CMT: I put it on after, and I microwave in separate halves.
MU: Gosh, okay.
CMT: Don't want me [sic] fingers to burn when I’m slicing.
MU: I thought, assumed, microwave whole.
CMT: I’ve tried whole, no dice.
MU: No dice? Does it get hot enough? Is it still stale? I don’t reckon you micro the stale away in the same way you toast away the stale.
CMT:Too hot for my fingers to then slice it. I eat HCBs too quickly for them to get stale.
MU:Let's be honest, you can’t slice HCB, you squish and rip.
THE TASTE-TEST AND THE VERDICT
The case for microwaving HCBs by Che-Marie Trigg
“Microwaving your HCB replicates the comforting warmth of a bun fresh out of the oven. Did they have toasters back in the middle ages when HCBs were invented? I think not. They didn’t have microwaves either, but there were ovens, which are definitely more microwave than toaster.
How to maximise your micro-ed HCB? You must slice it open before you microwave it, otherwise you’ll almost certainly burn your fingers. Once it comes out of the microwave (I usually give it 20 to 25 seconds), sit a pat of butter in the centre and let it soften for a couple of seconds before spreading. If you’re feeling particularly daring, slathering your bun with butter before popping it in the microwave also produces excellent results.
This microwaved HCB has a bit of chew, and the butter has seeped into the dough, giving it a satisfying sogginess, with a warming drip of butter smothering your hands. The perfect result for an autumnal snack.”
Urquhart taste-testing the microwaved HCBs
“This is very bad. It’s very stodgy. I guess a lot of bread products are a test for the oesophagus. I feel like I have turned into an HCB myself.
Frankly, the fact that they’re Flour and Stone HCBs is doing a lot of heavy lifting here. These are fancy and would taste nice anyway.
Points added for the butter permeation. I do enjoy how it’s seeping through. Many points deducted because, as I suspected, if you’ve left your HCBs for a couple days, they’re a bit tough, and unlike when you toast it, the stale doesn’t get removed. The stale lurks. Also, why are we microwaving them? When one microwaves bread it’s always to make it better for toasting.
The case for toasting HCBs by Molly Urquhart
“Toasting your HCB is the correct way. Microwaving your HCB is for psychos. While yes, they sort of resemble fruit toast, HCBs have embellishments that you don’t find in fruit toast, e.g. the cross and the fancy glaze.
Toasting gives a nice, firm, crunchy surface for optimal butter spreading. It also toasts the stale away. After popping them into the metal burner for a few minutes you remove all traces of the fact that what you’re eating is days old and not at all fresh. It’s all about the mind tricks.
Yes, you have to squish it in, and yes, it’ll probably leave glaze residue in your toaster, but who cares! You’ve resuscitated a possibly week-old piece of food and made it 1000 times better by smothering melt-y butter on its crunchy exterior.”
Trigg taste-testing the toasted HCBs
“Okay, I’ll admit: if you’re eating an HCB with a lovely fragrant glaze, like the ones we’re sampling, toasting does bear results. The outside is sticky and crunchy, in a way that can only be achieved by putting your bun in a toaster.
However, in order to toast an HCB, you remove its very essence: one must squish the bun before putting it in the toaster, making for a bread product that’s more raisin toast than HCB.
Certainly, it’s easier to spread the butter. But part of the appeal in a microwaved HCB is the excuse to use more butter than necessary, to ensure every corner is coated. You want the butter to melt into the entire surface area and drip from the bun, not sit politely on top.
Plus, it’s not like you’d toast any other bun. Imagine putting a finger bun or a cinnamon bun into a toaster. People would think you’d gone quite mad. Unless you’re particularly wedded to the crispiness that only a toaster can bring, microwave is the way to go.”
Disclaimer: This story was edited by Sydney Broadsheet editor Sarah Norris who thinks the HCB is an inferior bun. She asks, “Why eat an HCB when you can eat a normal bun?”
This article was first published on April 15, 2019 and updated on April 8, 2022, to reflect current affairs and new job titles.