It’s a hot cross bun, right? Yet another example of Waitrose sticking the word ‘Heston’ on a product and jacking up the price in order for people to help them with their recent staff bonus payments. It’s no secret that some of the ‘Heston’ range that have been through our kitchen have fallen short of the mark of what you’d expect to get in the Fat Duck (that’s why we buy this stuff, after all).
Therefore, after the endless Christmas product rush there has been a short break before the latest holiday offering, this time it’s Easter that’s sponsored by Bray’s finest.
“Heston from Waitrose Earl Grey & mandarin hot cross buns” is the product I’ve been asked to review. This is particularly exciting as hot cross buns are the sort of product that I have to ration over Easter in order to get into my jeans, it’s therefore great to have an excuse to eat some.
The first thing that strikes you about these is the size of them, comfortably the largest shop-bought hot cross buns I’ve seen; by way of comparison I have stood one next to it’s direct competitor on the shelves, the “Waitrose richly fruited” variety. You would expect the Heston bun to be at a premium price, but is it worth paying twice what you would for the own-brand alternative?
I cut into the bun and was immediately surprised that there seemed to be less fruit in the Heston bun than the control bun, this is reflected in the ingredients which shows Heston’s at 30% fruit compared to 32%. I was also a little disappointed that the fruit seemed to be gathered at one side of the bun instead of evenly spread throughout.
It’s at this point I’m reminded of Robert De Niro demanding each muffin in the casino restaurant have an equal number of blueberries in it. Perhaps Heston should hire Sam Ace Rosthein as a quality control manager.
My one year old was hungry so I toasted the Waitrose bun for him and saved a bite for myself. Unsurprisingly, it tasted of sweet bread with the occasional explosion of intense fruit. A good bun. One-year-old agreed.
I toasted the Heston bun under a medium grill, about a minute on the outside and then a minute and a half on the inside before letting it stand for a minute or so to let the heat spread throughout this tower of a treat. On it went a good dollop of Lurpack (the words ‘spreadable’ and ‘lighter’ do not feature in our kitchen). I was sure not to drown it in butter as I didn’t want the spread to dominate the flavours.
I was instantly impressed with the bun. Heston’s flavour combinations work wonderfully here, the fact the fruit had gathered was not an issue as, just like with the Hidden Orange Christmas Pudding, the flavours of the fruit are much more subtle.
Soaking the fruit in the Earl Grey tea is a master stroke which lifts the bun and takes the intensity off the fruit just enough. The flavours are carried through by the orange juice and zest and it gets better with every bite. As with anything like this, best enjoyed with a hearty brew.
I posed the question, are these worth double the money? The answer is a big, fat ‘yes’. Not only is this the best hot cross bun I have tasted, it is different to any hot cross bun I have tasted. A truly unique product. Heston has a winner with this one.