I probably should have looked up this Easter bun recipe before I surprised my friends with my home baked Easter bread. Mine (made from the instructions on the flour pack) turned out a bit on the dark and chewy side, but hey, all good intentions and made from scratch with organic ingredients. What more can you ask for?
To be honest, I wouldn’t have had the time to make it as intricate as the below instructions recommend, so who am I kidding. I did have time to enjoy the explanation of the origin of hot cross buns though, another mystery resolved.
For all of you who have time over Easter however, have a go, it looks scrumptious. And don’t forget to play the tune while you’re making it. Nursery rhymes are a time-proven way of learning a language, well, for children anyway.
Here’s a little glossary for the recipe (explanations are taken from
www.thefreedictionary.com by Farlex, do go there to press on the little speaker phones to listen to the correct pronunciation. It’s cool, you can choose between British or American):
Yeast: is used in bread production for one. It causes the dough to expand or rise as the carbon dioxide (CO2) forms pockets or bubbles.
There is either an equinox (autumn and spring) or a solstice (summer and winter) on approximately the 21st day of the last month of every quarter of the calendar year
Cinnamon: a small evergreen tree native to Nepal, India and Bangladesh, The bark is widely used as a spice due to its distinct odour.
Nutmeg: the nut-shaped seed of a tree, similar to the cinnamon tree, and is another spice from the above Asian area.
Zest: the outer peel of a citrus fruit
To convert cups to metric measures:
1 cup of milk = 240 ml
1 cup of flour = 120 gr
1 cup of sugar = 100 gr
1 cup of butter = 240 gr
I have added temperatures in Celsius for those of us in Europe within the recipe text.
Author Notes: A traditional favorite on Good Friday in England, Hot Cross Buns are a spicy currant or raisin studded yeast bun, topped with a “Cross” of lemon flavored icing. While Christians have adopted the cake and the symbolism of the cross, it wasn’t always so. To Pagans, then as now, the cross was/is representative of the sun wheel, which symbolizes perfect balance at the time of the Spring Equinox.
Hot Cross Buns were probably originally used in ceremonies and rituals and the Christian Church attempted to ban the buns, although they proved too popular. Left with no alternative but defeat, the church did the next best thing and “Christianized” the bread with Queen Elizabeth I passing a law which limited the bun’s consumption to proper religious ceremonies, such as Christmas, Easter or funerals.
Ingredients: 1 cup milk
2 tablespoons yeast
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoons nutmeg
5 cups flour
1 1/3 cups currants or raisins
1 egg white
1 1/3 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped lemon zest
1/2 teaspoons lemon extract
1- 2 tablespoons milk
Instructions: In a small saucepan, heat milk to very warm, but not hot (110 °F/ 40 degrees Celsius if using a candy thermometer). Fit an electric mixer with a dough hook. Pour warm milk in the bowl of mixer and sprinkle yeast over. Mix to dissolve and let sit for 5 minutes.
With mixer running at low speed, add sugar, salt, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and eggs. Gradually add flour, dough will be wet and sticky, and continue kneading with dough hook until smooth, about 5 minutes. Detach bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let the dough “rest” for 30-45 minutes.
Return bowl to mixer and knead until smooth and elastic, for about 3 more minutes. Add currants or raisins and knead until well mixed. At this point, dough will still be fairly wet and sticky. Shape dough in a ball, place in a buttered dish, cover with plastic wrap and let rise overnight in the refrigerator (see note at right if you’re in a hurry). Excess moisture will be absorbed by the morning.
Let dough sit at room temperature for about a half-hour. Line a large baking pan (or pans) with parchment paper (you could also lightly grease a baking pan, but parchment works better). Divide dough into 24 equal pieces (in half, half again, etc., etc.). Shape each portion into a ball and place on baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
In the meantime, pre-heat oven to 400 ° F/200 degrees Celsius.
When buns have risen, take a sharp or serrated knife and carefully slash buns with a cross. Brush them with egg white and place in oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350° F/ 175 degrees C., then Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack. Whisk together glaze ingredients, and spoon over buns in a cross pattern. Serve warm, if possible.