Saturday, 3 April 2010

Happy Easter!

One of the Easter-time traditions in our house is that D makes hot cross buns on Good Friday. I can't remember exactly when he started it, but I think that I was living in a house without central heating at the time, and since the weather around Easter in England is often cold and wet, it would usually be mid-afternoon before the dough had risen sufficiently. After a few years of this, he realised that the dough would rise more quickly if he put it somewhere warm, so now we usually get our hot cross buns before lunch time.

The recipe is from an old Good Housekeeping cookbook that used to belong to his Mom.

The recipe calls for plain flour. I have to say that if I was making this recipe for the first time, I would be tempted to use bread flour with anything that is yeast raised, but D has always used plain flour, and it works perfectly well.

Hot Cross Buns
recipe from Good Housekeeping Easy-Stages Cook Book, Ebury Press, London, 1968.

2 t. dried yeast
5 oz. warm milk
1 t. sugar
12 oz. plain flour
1/2 t. salt
1 oz. lard (or margarine)
2 oz. caster sugar
1/2 t. mixed spice
1 oz. dried fruit (we usually use raisins or currants)
1 egg
1 oz. lard (or margarine) for the pastry crosses
2 oz. sugar and 2 T. milk for the glaze

Dissolve the 1 t. sugar in the warm milk. Sprinkle the yeast on top of the milk, stir and leave for 10 - 15 min, until frothy.

Sift the flour and salt and rub in the 1 oz. lard. Stir in the 2 oz. caster sugar, the mixed spice and the dried fruit.

Break the egg into a bowl and whisk lightly with a fork.

Make a well in the flour and pour in the milk and yeast and the egg. Using a wooden spoon, gradually work in the flour to form a soft dough. Beat well until smooth, cover with a cloth and put to rise.

Grease a baking tray.

When the dough is risen, turn it out onto a floured board and knead lightly. Divide into 9 pieces. Flour your hands and form each piece into a round shape. Flatten slightly and put on the baking tray.

Cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size.

Rub the remaining 1 oz. fat into the 2 oz. plain flour and add a little cold water, until the mixture forms a firm dough. Knead lightly, then roll out thinly on a floured board and cut into thin strips 2 inches long.

To make the glaze, dissolve the 2 oz. sugar in the 2 T. milk and boil until syrupy.

When the buns have proved, moisten the strips of pastry with a little water or milk, and lay 2 on each bun to form a cross.

Bake at the top of a hot oven (425 degrees F, Gas Mark 7) for 15 - 20 min, until golden-brown and firm to the touch. Brush at once with glaze and allow to cool.

Makes 9 buns.

If time is short, omit the pastry crosses and mark a cross on each bun by making 2 deep cuts.

Happy Easter!

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