Tuesday afternoon: the ticket is out in Hereford! But no stock as yet...
By Wednesday I'm having kittens every time someone posts a picture on instagram of their Carrot Cake Hot Cross Buns. How is everyone else so much better at this Easter hunt than me? I call the store and speaks to a helpful assistant, who kindly advises me that not all stock goes to all stores and it's unlikely that Hereford will receive them first. But then, he finds them. Jackpot! Reserve me two packs please...
"2 Carrot Cake Hot Cross Buns with pieces of carrot, sunflower seeds, a hint of cinnamon and filled with cream cheese frosting."
[At this point I'd like to congratulate you for sticking with me and my strangeness. It's the small wins in life ok?]
I really hoped that they would be worth the effort. Aesthetically the buns appeared indifferent to your normal fruited variety -save for the odd slither of grated carrot- and the scent was very similar too. Unlike your normal hot crosses however, these can't be toasted or frozen.
I sliced the buns in half, anticipating a similar oozy centre to the brandy sauced filled Boobie buns. Oh.
Was that it?
Hmm M&S, that's a bit stingy and very lopsided. Still I tried to look for the positives; at least I'd have the opportunity to taste the dough on its own.
It was scrummy too, with a good strength of mixed spice and plenty of juicy raisins and date pieces, meaning the texture was very moist. The flavour didn't particularly scream of carrot cake, and I think I wouldn't have noticed that it was any different to a traditional bun If I wasn't aware that it was meant to resemble one. That said, what is the flavour of carrot cake? For me it's a moist cake with plenty of spice and dried fruit, so I guess M&S ticked all the boxes. I can't say I noticed the sunflower seeds, but I didn't miss them either.
On to the cream cheese frosting: AKA the best bit of a carrot cake (or red velvet/cinnamon bun for that matter). I wondered how a traditionally refrigerated dairy based would fair within an ambient product.
Very well it turns out! The wizards at M&S have done it again; they've mastered the balance so that the frosting was primarily sweet with just enough tang to take the edge off. It's a genius filling for a hot cross bun, although I did find myself craving strawberry jam for the non-filled side.
Hats off to Marks & Sparks for their Hot Cross Buns this year (let's just forget the chocolate orange minis never existed, eh?). They've bent the boundaries and created two cracking versions. I'll happily enjoy these and their Savoury Cheese Hot Cross Buns right through to Easter -especially whilst they're both in the 2 for £2.50 bakery offer.
9/10 (it would be a 10 if the filling was more consistent).
On a side note, I spotted Waitrose's new luxury Heston buns today at long last, but I can't say they're anywhere near as inspiring...
Didn't he do Earl Grey stollen bites at Christmas too? C'mon Heston, that's plain lazy.