I couldn't even get a bargain in Waitrose this time around, although most of their hot cross buns are currently on offer for £1.26 per pack (normally £1.50) or 2 for £2.50. I avoided saving myself a whole tuppence by buying two, I restrained myself and bought just a single pack of cherry & almond buns. Some of the packs on the shelf didn't look particularly fruity, but of course I dug around to find the most aesthetic of the bunch.
"4 fruited hot cross buns made with californian raisins, cherries, cranberries and almonds. Enriched with butter and egg."
I couldn't get over how soft and light these buns were. The texture probably had a lot to do with the enriched dough, technically making them more like a brioche. They were also a beautiful glossy golden brown and smelt wonderfully of almond extract. Oof. I was instantly pretty sure I'd made a good choice this time around, but then I recalled my experience last year with the similarly flavoured humongous Hot Cross Buns under their Heston label which were somewhat lacking in the flavour department. I crossed my fingers and toes.
I sampled the toasted half first -before it went cold- and was instantly pleased by the super melt in the mouth texture. It was pretty damn perfect and tasted so fresh that I could pretend that Waitrose's master bakers (oo-er) had made my batch that very morning.
As for the flavour, the almond element is much more prominent this year, and penetrates every morsel of the dough -despite it making up exactly the same proportion of the ingredients (only 1.5%). Even better was the abundance of big juicy cherries that were embedded within the bun, offering additional flavour and moistness. The raisins and cranberries were also welcome, meaning that most mouthfuls had some sort of fruit in. Mmm heavenly. If anything, the butter and jam I used as toppings were extraneous because the taste and texture were so well executed.
Normally I prefer my hot cross buns toasted, but the softness of the bread leant itself to an equally delicious ambient bun. The jam and butter complimented the dough but I shall try another one tonight completely naked (what's with me today?) so that I can completely appreciate one of my all-time favourite flavour combinations: cherry and almond.