Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hot Cross Buns and Lent

Hot cross buns (go to the Italian version of this blog) 

Wednesday 9th March was the beginning of Lent this year. And with the arrival of Easter we  cannot do without  hot cross buns, once baked to be eaten on Good Friday which this year falls on the 22nd of April, nowdays they eaten even before. They are really delicious, soft buns, with a delicate and inviting fragrance of spices.  Not sweet in themselves but only because of the glaze.

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Two baking tins, so that nobody is left without

I like preparing them a lot. And I especially like baking them together . During the last profing and during baking they seem to become one whole piece, but when you serve yourself they come away easily. As the name suggests they have a cross on top, which I prefer to make simply using  a sharp knife

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nursery rhyme,

 "Hot cross buns,"

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One ha' penny, two ha' penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons
One ha' penny,
Two ha' penny,
Hot Cross Buns!

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Ingredients (for 20 buns):

280 ml. of milk,
25 g. of fresh yeast,
a pinch of sugar,
450 g. of bread flour,
2 teaspoons of salt,
55 g. of brown sugar,
2 teaspoons of mixed spice,
60 g. melted butter (cooled) ,
2 eggs,
2 tablepoons of currents or sultanas,
2 tablepoons of candied orange peel (I don't use it).


2 tablepoons  of milk from the 280 ml above,
2 tablepoons of sugar,

Heat the milk to lukewarm, put a  tablespoon of it in a cup with the yeast and  a pinch of sugar, give it a stir and leave it for 15 minutes, it will become frothy.
Meanwhile,  put the flour, salt, sugar and mixed spices in a bowl  and mix well. Make a well in the centre and pour in the yeast mixture, the lukewarm melted butter, the eggs and a little of the milk. Knead the dough adding more milk if necessary, untill you have a smooth, rather stiff dough, which comes away easily from the sides of the bowl. You may not need all the milk to achieve this, and remember that two tablespoons must be set aside for the glaze.
Add the dried fruit and knead well so that it is evenly distributed. Cover the bowl with some a tea towel or  plastic wrap and leave it in a warm place for at around 2 hours or until it has doubled in bulk.
Knead the dough again until it feel elastic. Divide the dough into 20 even portions. Form into balls. Place them at a regular distance on a baking tray covered with wax paper, cut a cross on the top of the buns (not too deep!) , cover again with teatowel or some  plastic wrap ant let rise again for another 30 minutes or until doubled.  Preheat the oven to 190°C. Bake for 20- 30 minutes.

To make the cross there are alternative methods other than the simple one using a knife:
They are:
  • using shortcrust pastry cut into strips, mointening one side with water and sticking the strips in a cross on  the top of the bun.
  • mixing  4 tablespoons of  self- raising flour and 2 tablepoons of water and putting the mixture in a funnel made with greaseproof paper and piping it a cross on  top of each bun.
  • using a thick glaze made with sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk.