Monday, 30 March 2020
Honestly, I thought I might be done with this blog. But then all of a sudden, the world turned upside down and all I can do to stay calm is cook. On Saturday I made hot cross buns. I left some outside the apartment of my 85 year old neighbour, tossed a ziplock bag containing four to a friend across our authorised divide of 1.5m on an exercise walk, and continued on to deposit another care package on the doorstep of someone dear to me who's self-isolating on the other side of the park. I can't do much in the face of a global pandemic, but I can do that.
I firmly believe there's no such thing as a bad hot cross bun. Squidgy or fluffy, sparsely fruited or dense with sultanas, I don't care, I like them all*. There may be, however, a superlative sort of hot cross bun and this is it. I'll say upfront I'm very partial to anything orange-flavoured - in colour and taste it's just so bright and friendly. These buns have not just a sweet citrussy glaze on top, but are made with a dough containing one whole puréed orange. The recipe comes from my favourite bakery, Beatrix, in Melbourne. As luck would have it, they just published a cookbook and it arrived in my letterbox as a gift on my birthday two weeks ago, back when everything was still sort of normal. I'm always nervous about anything involving yeast, but this worked out beautifully. Right now there's something soothing about a baking project that takes time: waiting for the first prove, and the second, then the immediate gratification of the buns freshly out of the oven. And the great pleasure that comes from sharing them, even when you can't do it in person.
If you're lucky enough to live in Melbourne, Beatrix is currently doing takeaway cake (as well as delicious sandwiches) so you might like to support them by ordering online and picking up, or popping in to see what's available. Check their Instagram for their latest offerings.
* Actually, not true! I have no time for chocolate chips in hot cross buns. I know the sultana-averse are fond of them but I guess I'm a purist.