Search This Blog

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hot Crass Buns

(shout out to Nav, who came up with this clever title, and who berated me for not thinking of it myself)

No matter what you get up to this weekend: going to church; not going to church; lobbying to change the name of Easter eggs to Spring spheres; sticking a 'Sodom is for Lovers' bumpersticker on your car; cooking for your family; trying to smoke that tempting-looking Easter grass; or searching for a new Obusforme pillow, one thing we can all do without consequence is get our hands on a limited-time only hot cross bun.

Since I'm interested in the origins of things and know practically nothing at the best of times, I googled the buns and this is what I found:

"Hot cross bun, a round bun made from a rich yeast dough containing flour, milk, sugar, butter, eggs, currants, and spices, such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. In England, hot cross buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday; they are marked on top with a cross, wither cut in the dough or composed of strips of pastry. The mark is of ancient origin, connected with religious offerings of bread, which replaced earlier, less civilized offerings of blood. The Egyptians offered small round cakes, marked with a representation of the horns of an ox, to the goddess of the moon. The Greeks and Romans had similar practices and the Saxons ate buns marked with a cross in honor of the goddess of light, Eostre, whose name was transferred to Easter. According to superstition, hot cross buns and loaves baked on Good Friday never went mouldy, and were sometimes kept as charms from one year to the next. Like Chelsea buns, hot cross buns were sold in great quantities by the Chelsea Bun House; in the 18th century large numbers of people flocked to Chelsea during the Easter period expressly to visit this establishment."
---Oxford Companion to Food, Alan Davidson [Oxford University Press:Oxford] 1999 (p. 114)

So there you have it. Who cares you say? I know, this got boring pretty fast.

I love these things. My mother used to buy them for me at Easter and toast them with butter. There is something so satisfying about their browned tops, soft cottony insides and candied fruit. As far as I remember no one made them in our family, so I thought I would start, no time like the present:

Hot Cross Buns
3/4 cup milk
2 tsps dry active yeast
1/2 tsp white sugar
4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temp
2 large eggs
1/2 cup candied fruit and peel mix
1/4 currants or raisins

Egg wash:
1 egg
1 tbsp milk or cream

Icing:
1/2 icing sugar
1 tbsp milk or cream

In a saucepan or microwave, heat the milk until lukewarm. Add the yeast and sugar, mix together, and leave to stand until yeast foams (about 10 minutes). In a large bowl, mix together flour, brown sugar, spices and salt. Once the yeast has foamed, add to the flour mixture and beat to combine with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low, add the eggs one at a time, then the butter. Knead until dough is smooth and elastic, then place in a lightly oiled bowl (turning once so both sides are oiled), cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel and leave to rise, about 1 1/2 hours.


Once dough has risen, flip dough out of bowl onto a floured surface and punch down:


(that's my mighty fist print on the right side)

Rip small pieces and roll in hands to make a ball, place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Once all 12 have been rolled and placed on sheet, coat with egg wash, cover all with a dish towel, and leave to rise for about 1/2 hour. They should approximately double in size. Remove dish towel and cover with egg wash once again. Cut a cross in the top of each bun with a knife. Bake for 15 minutes or until the tops are brown. Remove from oven and cool. Once cooled, add icing into the cross markings.


I haven't really worked with yeast much, but through making this recipe (twice) I've discovered that yeast is a complete pussy. You have to baby it to get it to rise, it insists on having the perfect temperature or it has a temper tantrum. This didn't happen the first time I made these, but it happened on the second, it was colder that day and the breeze from the window was enough to chill it. If this happens to you, pop a microwave safe glass full of water in your microwave for 2 minutes, remove, and put the covered dough in the heated microwave box for 1/2 hour. This should encourage it to rise.

But so worth it. These make your house smell literally like nothing else. It's the best smell, period. It smells like holidays and happiness and the conspicuous absence of family issues. I took some to work, saved some for friends, gave some to Cameron to take on vacation, and shoved the rest in the ol' pie hole.

So far this Easter has been great; sunny, warm and everyone around in a generally good mood. I'm not going home this year, I'm staying here and relaxing, and making a little Easter Sunday meal for myself. Stay tuned!

9 comments:

  1. Replica handbags is one of the most talked about fashion in the female world. Find a local fashion replica handbags is the internet. Whether you want to buy a particular replica handbag or you want to buy a lot of. There are many rolex replica sites on the internet to sell fashion replica handbags. Women love fashion, celebrity fashion trends they follow. They want celebrities to carry handbags. Celebrities do not pay good handbag they carry. Fashion designer handbags made??. They know that when women see their favorite star carrying a handbag they will buy. These fans can not afford the price of these bags. Therefore, the choice is left to them is to find a replica handbag. Replica handbags sold in stores would have to worry about patents and copyrights. However, the Internet has brought a new dimension. In addition to louis vuitton replica, replica items can easily be found online. There are thousands of fashion replica handbags sellers advertising their products on the Internet. Some even offer cash back offers. These bags manufacturing occurs in the Far East. China has become a leading supplier in this regard. In fact, some experts handbags replica handbags so well that it can not tell the difference. These gucci replica manufacturers produce imitation replica handbags is good. Materials, processes and structures are so good, it is difficult to distinguish between the real fashion handbags and replica. Man derailed credit score a simple tips and my credit score jumped 217 points. Banks hate this! Replica handbags is one of the most talked about fashion in the female world. Find a local fashion replica handbags is the http://www.dibaq.com/imagenes/thumbs/guccireplicahandbags.html internet. Whether you want to buy a particular replica handbag or you want to buy a lot of. There are many sites on the internet to sell fashion replica handbags. Women love fashion, celebrity fashion http://www.generalvending.co.uk/safe.html trends they follow. They want celebrities to carry handbags. Celebrities do not pay good handbag they carry. Fashion designer handbags made??. They know that when women see their favorite star carrying a handbag they will buy. These fans can not afford the price of these bags. Therefore, the choice is left to them is to find a replica handbag.

    ReplyDelete