Easter is on the way and hot cross buns have started making an appearance in the shops. I love hot cross buns, they are perfect served with a cup of tea. As they toast a lovely fruity spicy smell wafts though the house. A little butter spread on and melting into the toasted surface makes them perfect. They are a lovely addition to Easter tea and normally I buy them. This weekend I decided to attempt to try making hot cross buns.
“Hot cross buns, Hot cross buns, One a penny, two a penny, Hot cross buns”
and indeed we would gleefully chant this when we went for Easter tea at my grannies. As well as hot& cross buns there was usually a Simnel cake on the table with its eleven balls of marzipan to represent the disciples, excluding Judas for his betrayal of Jesus.
The history of hot cross buns is hazy, there are plenty of theories which hark back to Roman, Saxon and even Greek times. The Spring festival was usually marked by most civilisations and eating special cakes probably played a great part. The tradition of eating spiced buns on Good Friday probably goes back to Tudor times. A London by-law forbade the sale of such buns except on Good Friday, at Christmas and at burials. Whatever their history they are delicious.
I decided to make them as I had some dried mixed fruit lurking in the back of my cupboard that needed to be used and some left over pastry from making a steak pie. I wasn’t sure how difficult hot cross buns would be to make, but it turns out they are not that hard. As with any bread the time consuming part is the kneading and leaving them to prove. You do need patience to wait for the dough to rise, my son kept asking when they would be ready and was not impressed we had to wait for them to rise. Making the pastry crosses look more elegant probably takes a bit more practice. I cut out pastry and stuck it on with water. I was pleased they managed to stay on the bun after they were cooked. Another approach is to make a flour and water mixture and pipe it onto the top of the hot cross buns. My skill with a piping bag is non-existant so I did not try this.
The smell wafting though the house as they cooked in the oven was glorious. The smell of baking bread always makes me hungry and this was mixed with a hint of spice. I put the kettle on, ready to make a cup of tea so I could eat the buns warm from the oven. A real afternoon treat. Before I could eat them they needed to be glazed with a sugar glaze to make them shine. I was too impatient to do this properly and as a result they are shiny in some places and not others. It did not change the taste, the buns were delicious. Food you have baked yourself always tastes better. It is as if the effort involved adds extra flavour.
As I used some stuff that was lurking in my kitchen cupboards I am adding this recipe to the kitchen clear out linkie over on Madhouse Family Reviews.