Tuesday, 26 April 2011

An Easter Feast(er). Part 1 - Hot Cross Buns

I'm not sure whether these Easter themed posts are a case of shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted, containing as they do various recipes for some of the cooking I did over Easter. The forward thinking blogger might have put ideas for Easter recipes up before, rather than after the event. But I am not that man, and so afterwards it is. In fairness though, only one of the recipes is for a particularly Easter inspired dish and the other can be happily cooked any time you blimmin' well like (as can the hot cross buns I suppose).

With baking being a big part of the traditional cook's Easter repertoire, I decided to have a crack at some hot cross buns. I made these last Thursday, just in time for Good Friday, which is when they were traditionally eaten. You might ask whether it is worth your while to bake your own HXBs, especially as you can buy 6 for less than a quid in most of the supermarkets. I would understand if you might think it a bridge too far, but I quite enjoyed making them (I find doing anything with yeast particularly satisfying!) and they did taste superior to the bought varieties. Also for the cheapskate, they make a good alternative to the Easter Egg as a present for your nearest and dearest.

Makes 12:

450g plain flour
1 tsp salt
2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
14g easy blend yeast
50g caster sugar
180g currants, raisins and mixed peel
150ml warmed milk
40ml warm water
1 beaten egg
50g melted butter

50g flour
1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water

  1. Sift together all dry ingredients and mix in the dried fruit.
  2. Make a well in the centre and add the milk, water, beaten egg and melted butter
  3. Mix into a dough and when it has come together scrape out onto a floured work surface. At this point you might think it's still a little sticky, so you can add some more flour before kneading.
  4. Knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic.
  5. Place the dough a clean bowl that you have lightly oiled with vegetable oil or similar (this stops it sticking to the bowl when it's rising), cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for approx 1.5 hours, by which time it should have doubled in size.
  6. After this time, knock back the dough (i.e. push all the air out of it) and divide into 12 equal sized buns, before using a sharp knife to cut a cross in the top of each bun. According to Alan Davidson's excellent Oxford Companion to Food this was traditionally done to let the devil fly out!
  7. Place these on a baking tray lined with parchment and loosely cover with cling film or a tea towel and leave for half an hour to rise a second time.
  8. While this is happening you can pre heat the oven to 200 degrees and make the crosses. To do this just mix together the flour and water into a paste, roll out to appox 5mm depth and then cut into thin strips ready to put on top of the buns.
  9. After the buns have risen a second time, brush the strips with water and stick them on top to make the all important crosses. Then place in the oven for 12-15 mins.
  10. While they are cooking make the glaze by heating the sugar and water in a saucepan until you have a clear syrup.
  11. Take the buns out of the oven and brush on the glaze while they are still warm and leave to dry.
  12. Eat with plenty of butter (no marg or any of that crap allowed).

Stage 3, before kneading
Stage 5, ready to rise

Stage 6, prior to knocking back

Stage 9, ready for the oven

The finished product, in all their glory!

p.s. It has just occured to me, that, in a desperate attempt to make up for the tardiness of this post, you could make these with hearts on the top in celebration the royal wedding...? Definitely a bit naff, but who's to know.

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