As a young girl (god knows that was such a long time ago) I remembered that hot cross buns was something that we'd get to savour during Easter time.
Did you ever wonder how hot cross buns came about? Well, there are conflicting stories as to it's exact origin. The buns have been associated with Easter tradition since the 1300s when a monk distributed the buns to the poor on Good Friday. However, the symbol of the cross pre-dates Christianity, and the buns may have originally been exchanged at pagan holidays like the Solstice, with the cross symbolizing the change of seasons and phases of the moon.
According to one story, hot cross buns were wildly popular in the pagan community, and the early Christian church attempted to ban them. Elizabeth I of England supposedly legalized the buns by associating them with Christian holidays. This story seems somewhat doubtful given that hot cross buns had been a part of Christian celebrations since before the birth of Elizabeth, and that the Christian church does not generally wage war declare war on pastry.
Wherever the buns came from originally, they have become extremely popular. It is now not just eaten during Easter but can be found in bakeries all year round. However it does have special significance especially around Easter time.
Whipping up a batch of hot cross buns at home is a different experience from buying it at the bakery. They are so much better and you can tweak it to your liking. There is really nothing like freshly baked buns with a dollop of cold butter, your favourite jam spread and some honey.
Dare I also say that this is my ever first batch of hot cross buns, it taste great even though the rolls aren't very well rounded. My next batch will surely be better looking!
Hot Cross Buns
Source: Lynne Mullins ,The Sydney Morning Herald
(makes 16 rolls)
1/3 cup caster sugar
2 x 7g sachets dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm milk
600g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp mixed spice
60g butter, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup currants
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Paste for crosses:
1/2 cup plain flour
4 Tbsp water
2 tsp caster sugar
For the Glaze:
1 Tbsp very hot water
1 tsp gelatine powder
1 Tbsp caster sugar
1) Combine caster sugar, yeast and milk in a bowl, stir until smooth, cover and rest in a warm place for 10minutes or until frothy.
2) Sift flour, salt, cinnamon and mixed spice into a large bowl. Use your fingertips to rub butter into flour mixture.
3) Stir in yeast mixture, egg and currants until well combined. Cover and rest in a warm place for 45 minutes or until mixture has doubled in size.
4) Preheat oven to 220 degrees. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about five minutes).
5) Divide dough into 16 even pieces and roll into balls. Place balls into a lightly greased square cake pan lined with baking paper.
6) Rest covered for 10-15 minutes or until balls have risen to the top of the pan.
7) Combine paste ingredients in a small bowl and, using a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle or a plastic bag with a snip off one corner, pipe crosses over buns.
8) Bake for about 18 - 20 minutes or until well browned and cooked.
9) Combine glaze ingredients in a small bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved. Brush buns with warm glaze and cool on a cake rack. Can be stored in an airtight container for two days .