Saturday, 28 March 2009

Easter Rant

Easter is coming soon, as I'm sure we all knew since the supermarkets stocked up on chocolate eggs and hot cross buns on Boxing Day. But I'm not upset about that. I find that a little ironic detachment about the silliness of it all is helpful. What does annoy me is what they've done to hot cross buns.

I have entirely given up on buying hot cross buns from the supermarket, and now only buy them from the best bakeries. This does not include Bakers Delight and Brumby's. I know that Cornucopia in Braddon does a nice one: they are the ones in the picture. I tried to buy some from Flute last week when I went to get a new shelf from the Government furniture disposal shop to use as a temporary pantry, but they'd sold out. Tips are welcome... And yes, I do make my own at Easter, but I'm not an everyday baker.

What is it that bothers me? Supermarkets sell no-fruit buns, which is silly but I guess probably sort of OK for fussy children. The chocolate chip hot cross bun may be a bit weird, but I can accept that as a modern development. I don't want to eat chocolate for breakfast more than about three times a year, but I can see the point.

It's the mixed peel. I like mixed peel. I like the little bitter citrus bite giving that little kick to offset the sweetness. You don't need a lot - there's maybe 3 to 5 pieces in each of the Cornucopia buns. But three or four years ago now, the big bakeries started advertising "No Peel!" on their packs of buns. As if that were a good thing. Oh well, I just bought the other ones. But as time has gone by, they have nearly all dropped the peel, and no longer advertise it. I fish out my glasses and try to read the small print on the ingredients, but none of my regular supermarkets now stock an old-fashioned bun with mixed fruit. Some varieties even have no currants, just sultanas.

Damn you modern world! I want an old-fashioned bun. What makes me really cross is the big bakeries' pretence that this little bit of cheapening is somehow a good thing. I'm reminded of the story of the airline that saved millions by cutting one olive per salad serving. Shaving away at the corners is a pure bean-counting exercise. It's all about saving production cost dollars. It's a cut in quality that they think will go unnoticed. Cut all the corners you can, bugger the customer!


Cath said...

By the way, in commercial brands I'm aware that Tip Top Cafe Style does have a little, but my local doesn't stock them. And of course they've got nothing on Cornucopia, except for being 1/3 the price.

Ozquilter said...

Yes Cath its really irritating to have the complexity of tastes removed from a good fruit bun, its a dumbing down of our taste buds.

Our local organic bakery, Bakery on Wentworth, makes a lovely hot cross bun with a crisp crust, a soft inside, plus a good sticky top, but no mixed peel. Can't remember when I had a bun with a mixed dried fruits mix, except for those I make myself.

Mister Tim said...

Croissant D'Or in Civic has excellent ones and The Cook and Grocer in Gungahlin is doing a special order of hot cross buns from a good bakery in Melbourne. Those two places are where I'm sourcing mine this Easter.

kazari said...

We made our own last year, which was very satisfying. I miss the mixed peel, too.

Cath said...

I really ought to do more yeast cookery, especially now while I'm at home so much. Thanks for the tips, Mr Tim.

infoaddict said...

My mother (a consummate cook) determined the taste of hot cross buns for me and indeed, they are rich in mixed peel. The flavour and scent is so distinctive; I do wonder why it's necessary to cost-cut to THAT extent!

Babka in Melbourne made buns that took me right back to childhood; I ate myself silly on them when I lived there. I'm yet to find a local substitute but will probably just make my own. My yeast cookery is adequate owing to years of parental tutelage, despite the fact I don't do it all THAT often on my own. (Mind you, we made turkish bread on the weekend! - it didn't really taste or look like the turkish bread we were hoping for, but it was a very adequate substitute for dip and party purposes ... ).

Cath, I'll get the family recipe and supply it, for all to enjoy :)

Raymond said...

Seattle fella here looking for an authentic Hot Cross Bun recipe. Yes, I've searched, but your insight sounds experienced, which is what I lack. Seems the cream cheese or frosting cross is the easy way out. I like the image you have posted....but what makes the cross? It's more than just scoring the roll and egg wash... I just learned that they are traditionally served on Good Friday aka tomorrow... so I'm in panic mode. Was really hoping to make these for friends this year... Good ideas always come late... (sigh) Happy Easter.