Chocolate Chip Hot Cross Buns

Easter Saturday


The Easter Weekend: it has taken us all by surprise. We are utterly unprepared. No Easter eggs or leg of lamb purchased; no vases of daffodils or pretty branch covered in decorations; and certainly no homemade hot cross buns. 

I wake in a panic. The kids are already downstairs, limbering up in the kitchen. They received new trainers yesterday (a present) and are very taken with them. Cue lots of laps up and down the hall. They sound like a herd of wildebeests trampling through the savannah; Daisy claims she’s running on air. They overhear me muttering about Easter and Ollie diverts to do a few circuits of the garden in case the Easter bunny has been early.

We start the day with a big clean up. We play to our strengths: Tom does the kitchen, accompanied by loud music; I tackle the mounds of laundry upstairs; Ollie acts as errand-boy running items from one parent to the other; while Daisy sorts things in her bedroom. 

I unearth a bag in our bedroom that hasn’t been put away since Center Parcs. I check all the pockets before putting it away in the cupboard. Inside I find a little jewellery box. Oooo. What’s this? I think. 

I open it and it’s a gold plectrum keyring with thoughtful words engraved on it. How lovely! It must be a forgotten Valentine’s or Christmas present. Something Tom saw and bought for me then tucked it away and forgot about it. 

I call Daisy in as go-between, just in case it’s a surprise that I’m not supposed to know about. She’d like to get on with her room, but she reluctantly takes the box from me and wanders down to Tom, pretending  she’s found it herself.

I hover at the top of the stairs waiting to be called down: Darling! I have something for you! I saw it and thought of you! Instead there are low voices coming from the kitchen (or maybe it’s just hard to hear over the racket on the radio). 

As Daisy comes back up the stairs empty-handed, I begin to panic a bit.

“Awkward!” she says at the top of the stairs, eyebrows raised. “It’s not for you.”

I’m suddenly reminded of the scene from Love, Actually where Emma Thompson thinks she’s getting an expensive necklace from her husband, (Alan Rickman) on Christmas Day, but it’s a Joni Mitchell CD instead (because the necklace has gone to a girl at the office), and Thompson sobs in her bedroom to the tune of Both Sides Now. A heart-breaker of a scene. 

Fortunately we are not replaying our own version of it today, much to my relief. Daisy informs me that it was bought for Tom by a family member because he plays the guitar, and he’s been looking for it. He’s very pleased it’s been found. I return to the laundry with a mixture of relief tinged with disappointment. 

By late afternoon, we’re starting to get our act together. I find a suitable branch in the garden (harder than you think) and Daisy decorates it with eggs. We clear the table and put on a new table cloth; I begin making hot cross buns for the first time. 


Unusually the kids aren’t up for it, and I enjoy the process more than I thought I would(!) chatting to Tom while he washes up. I opt to put chocolate chips and mixed peel in mine, because everything tastes better with chocolate, and it gives them a subtle chocolate-orange flavour. I have every intention, and all the ingredients, to make a gluten-free version too, but two batches of hot crosses in one day? You must be joking! 

They finally come out of the oven at 9.30pm, all ready to be toasted in the morning. The tradition is to eat them on Good Friday, but we are a few days behind on everything this year…..

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