Hot cross buns are a funny one – they’re widely available in Ireland in the run up to Easter but they don’t seem to be widely consumed here. Or maybe they’re just not a Dublin thing? Anyway, I absolutely adore them and look forward to my first each year (although I don’t like seeing them too early, and I look down on chocolate and toffee versions with what I can only imagine to be Protestant disapproval). But no one else I know seems to like them all that much or at least they might, but I’ve ever seen anyone, bar my family, eating them. I’ve never seen them in any of my friends’ houses and I’ve never heard anyone talking about them. Maybe they’re something you have to grow up with to enjoy, or perhaps they are regarded as just as ever so slightly too English to be eaten here, like crumpets or dumplings or Yorkshire puddings. But they are truly lovely on a cold Six Nations Sunday, toasted (they must be toasted), buttered liberally, and eaten by the fire with a cup of hot tea.
I decided to try making them myself using a BBC recipe, and while they turned out very pleasant, they did take a long time to make and, as you’re working with a very heavily enriched dough, it can be quite difficult to get them to rise properly. So, if you’re new to the whole hot cross bun thing, my advice would be to try a supermarket bakery version first, and having eaten quite a few over the years, I can tell you that Marks & Spencer’s ‘Luxury’ version is the absolute best out there.