With Easter growing nearer, the quest for a good hot cross bun is becoming ever more important. Of course, we baking types often make our own, with various twists and unusual ingredients to try to stand out from the crowd. This year I am soaking my fruit in Earl Grey tea, a slightly more subdued version of last year’s bun, for which I soaked the fruit in Morgan’s Spiced rum. London’s bakeries are also quick off the mark to get their own seasonal offerings out there. A few years ago, The Ginger Gourmand, on her other blog, Eats Dulwich, rated all of the hot cross buns in and around East Dulwich, which is one of my favourite blog posts ever.
As this quest began to gather momentum and suggestions for bakeries came from far and wide, I received a box of Easter goodies from Gail’s Bakery to try. Much to the delight of my ever-hungry colleagues. Since Gail’s opened a branch in my nearby Dulwich Village, I have been a bit of a regular. Sometimes to pick up a loaf of their excellent bread, and sometimes to get a coffee and a pastry to enjoy whilst dodging the children on the recumbent go-karts in Dulwich Park. My favourite is a savoury pastry with cherry tomatoes, basil and goats cheese they sometimes sell. With their reputation of great bread and pastries, their Easter range must be top notch, non?
My colleagues (selflessly) agreed to taste and give their verdict.
Hot Cross Buns
The first thing that the tasters noticed was the enormous difference between a freshly-baked hot cross bun and the packaged ones you buy in the supermarket. On opening the box, the smell of both freshly baked bread and spices was enough to leave everybody salivating. The buns were soft, but without that airiness that you sometimes get from a processed bun, and they had a very shiny and sticky glaze. We were divided on whether there was enough fruit in the buns – some preferred a sparsely-fruited bun, whereas others longed for more. The fruit was a step above the usual currants and candied peel, though, I spied a few sultanas and cranberries in the mix, which made it a little more luxurious than your standard bun. We all agreed that the buns had the perfect amount of spicing and were not too overly sweet. One of my colleagues commented that they would benefit from a touch more salt. All in all, an overwhelmingly positive verdict and an excellent bun.
OK, so my reaction to the surprise garibaldi bunnies was a little overblown, but finding my childhood favourite ‘squashed fly’ biscuits in the shape of rabbits was almosy too much to bear. These had the delicious chewiness of old-style garibaldi biscuits with the addition of a delicious dusting of cinnamon sugar. Perfect if you couldn’t eat a whole hot cross bun.
Cupcakes aren’t really my thing. I am partial to one once in a while, but will nearly always choose a little friand or financier over one when given the option. It’s just all. that. icing. The Easter cupcakes from Gail’s are the kind to give you quite the sugar rush – a sponge cake, topped not only with vanilla buttercream, but with two iced shortbread bunny ‘ears’. They are a little too sweet for me, but the quality is superb – a light sponge with a good-quality and well made vanilla buttercream. The ‘ears’ were my favourite part – I could have eaten a ton of these on their own.
These products were a gift from Gail’s Bakery.