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Our food director, Sarah Akhurst, shares some tasty toppings and fillings to try on hot cross buns this Easter
Delicately spiced and packed with juicy fruit, hot cross buns are probably my all-time favourite baked good (bold, I know). Such is the depth of my HCB love, I generally display a pretty healthy disregard for their ‘proper window’ and can be found tossing them in my trolley whenever I spot them in store.
Year round, I’m strictly in the toasted-with-butter camp, but come Easter I do feel the need to let my hot cross buns have their seasonal moment in the sun. So, here are just a few of my favourite twists…
1. Strawberry sundae
New to the Sainsbury’s HCB range this year are these 'strawberry & cream' hot cross buns, made with strawberries, double cream, cranberries and chunks of white chocolate. I didn’t think I could be swayed from a classic, but these are addictively good for anyone with a sweet tooth (me!), and taste even more sublime when toasted and topped with ice cream and a drizzle of strawberry sauce. They’d make a great speedy dessert to follow your Easter roast.
2. PBB: Peanut butter & banana
Not one for the purists, but I say don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Peanut butter adds an extra level of richness, while the banana works brilliantly with the cinnamon spicing. Go all out with a slick of jam if you fancy, we won’t judge you.
3. Cheesy melt
Fruit toast is a classic cheeseboard accompaniment, so it makes perfect sense that a layer of melted cheese would be just the thing atop a toasted hot cross bun. Toast lightly, then butter and top with cheese – something sharp like Sainsbury’s Barber’s Mature Cruncher Cheddar or blue Stilton works really well, but if you prefer something creamier, a Brie would also do the job. Flash under the grill until the cheese is bubbling and enjoy straight away.
4. Tahini butter with pistachio
Dried fruit and spices are a common feature of Middle Eastern food, so play to your hot cross bun’s strengths with a slick of tahini butter. Simply stir a dollop of tahini through some softened salted butter and spread generously over freshly toasted buns. A sprinkle of chopped pistachios adds a lovely additional crunch.
5. Cardamom cream
Inspired by Swedish Semlor buns, which are traditionally eaten in Scandinavia in the lead up to Lent, these would be perfect as part of an Easter afternoon tea. Simply add icing sugar and a little ground cardamom to double cream and whip to soft peaks. Put the cream in a piping bag with a star nozzle, split open your hot cross buns, and pipe a swirl of cream on each base. Sandwich with the tops and then dust with a little extra icing sugar to finish.
6. Maple butter
The caramel overtones of maple syrup go great with a well-spiced hot cross bun. Add a good glug to some softened butter and whisk until smooth. Spread liberally on freshly toasted hot cross buns, and finish with an extra drizzle of syrup for that photo-worthy glisten.
Our best-ever hot cross bun recipes
Our favourite chocolate recipes for Easter