After Christmas, I think Easter provides my favourite seasonal food. You already know about my love of Easter Eggs, but its not all about the chocolate for me. It starts Fish and Chips on Good Friday evening and leads up to the main event, a leg of roast lamb on Easter Sunday, pink with curls of rosemary scented steam rising up. Then of course there’s these, Hot Cross Buns.
Traditionally they’re eaten on Good Friday, with the cross on top symbolising the crucifixion. However for me these are too good to keep for one day. Spilt open, toasted and topped with gently melting butter, these make the perfect breakfast.If I could, I’d eat them throughout the whole Easter period. The smell of them rising in the kitchen, with their wonderful spicy, orangey scent, is reason enough to make them.
Hot Cross Buns
(recipe adapted from Feast by Nigella Lawson)
For the Dough
1 Packet of easy blend yeast
125g mixed dried fruit
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground ginger
zest of 1 orange
400g bread flour
For the egg wash
1 egg, beaten with a little milk
For the crosses on the buns
3 tbps plain flour
1/2 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp water
For the Sugar Glaze
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp boiling water
Heat the milk, butter and orange zest in a pan until the butter melts. Leave it to cool until it reaches blood temperature.
While it is cooling, measure out the flour, yeast, dried fruit and spices into a bowl. When the liquid has cooled significantly, beat in an egg. Mix the liquid into the dry ingredients.
Knead the dough until you have a smooth and elastic dough. It took me about 10 minutes kneading by hand. Form into a bowl and place in a buttered bowl. Cover the top with cling film and put in a warm place to rise for about an hour until doubled in size. Alternatively, you can leave in it in the fridge overnight and have the dough ready to freshly bake in the morning.
Which ever method you choose, once the dough is risen, knock it back down again. Knead the dough again until it is smooth. Shape into 16 small balls, or 12 larger ones. Place the balls onto a baking sheet, closely together but not touching. Use the back of a knife to make the imprint of a cross onto each bun. Leave them to rise for about 45 minutes, until they are well risen and nearly touching on the tray.
While they are rising, mix the flour, sugar and water into a thick paste. Brush the buns with egg wash, then make a cross on each bun using the paste. Use a teaspoon to dribble the paste using a swift action.
Bake them in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
When they are cooked, mix together sugar and boiling water and brush it over each bun. It will make them beautifully shiny and sweet.