Thursday 2 March 2017

NEW! Carrot Cake Hot Cross Buns (M&S)

Did you have Easter Egg hunts as a child? We did, it was my favourite part of Easter. In fact I think I enjoyed it more than actually eating the chocolate (hard to believe, I know) because I'm so damn unrelenting and love a good puzzle. Sod the fact the cousins were round, I revelled in the joy of finding an egg when or where I least expected to. Perhaps that's part of the reason I love writing this blog so much, I revel in the thrill of finding a new product and then telling you all about it. That's certainly been the case this week after both Sarah (baking extraordinaire of Waffly Versatile) and Nat (chocolate expert at Lot-O-Choc) notified me to an instagram post from writer Felicity Spector. Cream Cheese Carrot Cake hot cross buns? Jeepers. They sounded rather good, and if they're anything like M&S's ingenius Boobie Buns... Needless to say, the Hot Cross Bun Hunt was on.

Monday afternoon: none in Worcester, but they did have a ticket out. Humf. I popped into Hereford store on the way home, who incidentally thought I had lost the plot and didn't know what on earth I was on about. Carrot cake? Yes! Hot Cross buns? Yes! Carrot Cake Hot Cross Buns however...?

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.


  1. Love this review! :D Having been on the losing side of a "must find this new product" hunt before, I admire your tenacity and dedication to reviewing new things. As for the buns, they do sound great - though I do dislike a lack of uniformity in a mass produced item like this. Wonky filling is unacceptable! Unless you like it, then it's totally acceptable! (Each to their own, eh?) They sound fab anyway. Glad you got them in the end! :)

    1. Yeah it does peeve me a little bit, but I could forgive M&S based on the genius idea, the taste and the price!

  2. The world is obsessed with hot cross bun variations!