Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter "Craft", Day 10: Hot Cross Buns

In many Christian countries Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, the cross adorned tops representing Christ's crucifixion. According to cookery writer Elizabeth David, Protestant English monarchs saw the buns as a dangerous hold-over of Catholic belief in England, being baked from the dough used in making the communion wafer. Protestant England attempted to ban the sale of the buns by bakers but they were too popular, and instead Elizabeth I passed a law permitting bakeries to sell them, but only at Easter and Christmas. Nowadays they are generally only seen around Easter.

English folklore includes many superstitions surrounding hot cross buns. One of them says that buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or become moldy during the subsequent year. Another encourages keeping such a bun for medicinal purposes. A piece of it given to someone who is ill is said to help them recover.

Sharing a hot cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if "Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be" is said at the time. Because of the cross on the buns, some say they should be kissed before being eaten. If taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwreck. If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and insure that all breads turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.

Hot Cross Buns
1 tablespoon dry yeast
1 1/2 cups warm milk
1/2 cup sugar
4 1/4 cup plain flour
2 teaspoons mixed spice
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 cup dried fruit
1 egg
50 grams melted butter

Mix warm milk with yeast and 2 teaspoons of sugar.
Let sit for 5 minutes somewhere warm until frothy, indicating that the yeast is active.
In a large bowl add the sugar, flour, mixed spice, cinnamon and dried fruit.
Mix until combined.

Make a well in the center and add the melted butter, egg and yeast mixture.
Use a butter knife to mix then tip out onto a lightly floured bench and knead for 8 mins till smooth and elastic. (add more flour or water if the dough is too sticky or dry)

Place dough into an oiled bowl, cover with plastic. Allow to rise in a warm place for 45 min or until doubled in size

Take dough out and knead lightly then break into 12 segments of equal size.

Roll them into balls and arrange on a greased baking tray
Allow to rise in a warm place for another 40 mins.
During this time preheat the oven to about 200 degrees and make up a mixture for the

mix flour and water till it is a wet paste and pipe over the buns

Glaze mixture:
1/4 cup hot water 3 tablespoons of caster sugar
Bake for 10 mins then turn down oven to 180 degrees and cook for another 20-25 min or until springy to touch
Brush glaze over them as soon as they are out of the oven
Allow to cool and eat! YUM