I’ve been trying to wrap my head around this national food holiday since I saw it listed on the calendar. I mean, hot cross buns: sure, I get it could have a national food holiday. I mean, the practice of baking dried fruit and nuts into a bun has been around since before Christianity, and the buns were adopted into the Christian Easter traditions (with a cross made of yummy icing on top of each bun) by the 18th century. They’ve got gads of history, and are an Easter staple in many American and European households. But…that’s just it. They’re an Easter tradition. Why the heck are they celebrated in the middle of September?? Some national food holidays make no seasonal sense–Strawberry Ice Cream Day occurring in January comes to mind–but I haven’t seen anything so wildly off-course as this before!
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen hot cross buns being sold any time other than the Easter holiday season. But then again, I’m Jewish, and the only time I’ve actually purchased hot cross buns was when they were on sale the day after Easter. (I bought them just to try them, and decided they were not for me.) But leave it to New York City to have me surprised, yet again! While most bakeries will only make the buns seasonally, the Breslin Bar & Dining Room serves them year-round, for those who can’t get enough of those spicy buns dotted with currants and icing. Their pastry chef, Katzie Guy-Hamilton, puts a new spin on the millennia-old standard by adding sea salt sprinkled onto the top, giving it a savory new taste. The name might sound familiar to some, and it struck a chord with me as well: Katzie was a “cheftestant” on the second season of Top Chef: Just Desserts, and was one of my favorites with her renditions of baked Alaska spumoni on a stick (!) and carrot cakes shaped like actual carrots. She was super fun and inventive during her time on the show, and I trust that the desserts she makes for the Breslin–like the spicy hot cross bun–are just as interesting and tasty!
Breslin Bar & Dining Room
20 W 29th St
“In April Bloomfield’s kitchen at the Breslin, the pastry chef Katzie Guy-Hamilton has begun baking what she deems “extra-special hot cross buns toasted with butter and sea salt and filled with fat, spiced sultanas, tea-soaked currants, and candied orange peel.” These, I’d like to try.”–The New York Times Magazine
“Nearly stuffed, I spied this hot cross bun, and of course had to try it out before calling it a meal. I quite liked it — The Breslin doesn’t make these particularly sugary; it’s almost more savory than sweet. Then again, I can’t remember if I’ve ever had one before, so I guess I like hot cross buns.”–Feisty Foodie
Some reviews from Yelp.com:
“Hot cross buns: Not big enough to share, so you should get (at least) one per person. These are so good. They are served nice and hot and they are super sticky and delicious, and there is a bunch of stuff inside, like raisins. Get these for a really good way to start the meal.”–Mike C.
“I love brunch at the Breslin. The food is incredible and the place is so relaxing, never felt rushed. I always start off with a bloody Mary which is probably the best one I have ever tasted. In fact I wasn’t much of a bloody mary drinker before trying it at the Breslin. My favorite brunch items are the hot cross buns, baked eggs, the totally decadent cheese sandwich, the fries, the bacon (soooo crispy).”–Kathy L.
Make sure you check out the updated NYC Food Holidays Map to find this most recent holiday!