Search
Food corner

"To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day."

Somerset Maugham

Twitter feed
Tags
Aleppo pepper Alicante all spice almond anchovy apple apricot Argentina artichokes asparagus aubergine autumn avocado bacon banana Bangkok basil beef beetroot bergamot berry biscuit bistro bloggers blue cheese Bolivia Borough Market bread breadcrumbs British budget budwig diet Buenos Aires buffalo sauce bulgar wheat burrata butter cabbage cafe cake Calais capers caramel caraway cardamom carrot cauliflower chard cheddar cheese chicken chickpeas chicory chilli chocolate chorizo Christmas cinnamon clams cloves cobnut cocoa coconut cooking class Copenhagen Córdoba coriander cornflakes cottage cheese courgette flowers crayfish cream cream cheese creme fraiche cucumber culinary catastrophe cumin currants daikon Dalmatia dates delivery dessert dill dips dough Dubrovnik Easter easy Edinburgh egg eggplant fennel festive feta fettuccine ffine bean fflour Filipino filo fine dining Finsbury Park fish fish sauce five spice flour food aid food anthropology food tour French game garlic gastropub gherkin ginger gluten free goat's cheese goat's curd golden syrup greengage Guinness halloumi ham Hanoi harissa hazelnut hibiscus Hoi An hominy honey horseradish humanitarian relief Indian Islington Istanbul Italian jam Japanese juniper Kent ketchup kielbasa kinilaw Korean lamb leek lemon lemongrass lentils lime linseed London loquat Madrid market mascarpone Mayfair Mendoza Mexican mid-range milk mint mirin mixed peel mixed spice monk's beard morcilla mozzarella mushroom mussels mustard Nahm Natoora Nepalese New Nordic New Year's Day New Zealand noras nose-to-tail oats olive olive oil onion orange Oxfordshire oxtail paprika Paris Parmesan parsley party pastry peanut pear peas pepper Peru Philippines pickle pine nuts pistachio pizza pomegranate pomegranate molasses pop-ups pork potato prawn preserved lemon prosciutto Provence providore prunes Puerto Iguazú pulse pumpkin purple sprouting broccoli quail egg quick radish ragu raisins ras el hanout raspberries red pepper paste red wine refugees restaurant rhubarb ribs rice ricotta rocket rosemary runner bean saffron sage San Sebastian sausage seafood shallot short and sweet slow-cooked smoked mackerel smoked salmon sorrel souffle soy spaghetti spinach spring squid St Basil's Day stilton stock street food sugar sumac summer supper club Sydney syrup Tabasco tagliatelle tahini take away tamarind tarragon tart Thai thyme toffee tom yum paste tomato tomato paste tray bake tuna Turkey veal vegetarian versatile Vietnam Vietnamese vinegar walnut water chestnut white pepper wine wings winter yoghurt
« Dad's Mexican mince | Main | Sticky Toffee Pudding »
Friday
Mar302018

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns are probably my favourite festive food. The smell of the cinnamon toasting and the taste of them – lightly toasted, thickly buttered – makes me feel all warm and cosy. They are one of my ultimate comfort foods.

I agree with Oliver Thring that “Buns are some of the best things to have emerged from English kitchens”. He gives a potted history of the hot crossed bun, the most interesting points being:

  • The symbology is not Christian in origin – pagans also baked buns and breads marked with a cross. In ancient Greece, breads marked with a cross signified the start of spring; in ancient Egypt, similar delicacies were offered to the goddess of the moon and the Saxons “baked breads slashed with crosses to honour Eostre, their goddess of spring and fertility and the source of our word Easter. The four sections symbolised the four quarters of the moon, or the seasons”
  • Hot Cross Buns became associated with Easter around 1592, when “Elizabeth I restricted London bakeries from making them except at burials, Good Friday or at Christmas. 
  • There are a number of superstitions associated with the buns, the most common of which was “that a bun baked on Good Friday would never go mouldy, that if it was hung in the kitchen it would improve a cook's baking and prevent fires from breaking out, and that if you stashed a bun in a heap of corn it would keep the rats and weevils away.”

I try to limit my annual Hot Cross Bun intake to the week before and after Easter, even though they are available for most of the year. I cram as many as possible into that two week window. I've had 7 already, and that's only including one from this batch.

I am a traditionalist. No chocolate, blueberries or cranberries, thank you very much. Just raisins, currants, mixed peel and spice. They didn’t stick around centuries because they weren’t very good. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!

Makes 12.

Ingredients

For the dough

450g strong white flour
70g golden caster sugar
Zest of 2 oranges
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
½ tsp salt
100g unsalted butter
150ml milk
Pinch sugar
14g instant yeast
2 eggs
Water, as required
150g currants and/or raisins
50g mixed peel

For the cross

4 tbsp plain flour
4 tbsp water
Pinch salt

For the glaze

1-2 tbsp apricot jam
1-2 tbsp water, as required

Method

Sift the flour and caster sugar into a large mixing bowl and add the orange zest, cinnamon and mixed spice. Stir to combine.

Grate the butter into the bowl and use your fingertips to rub into the dry ingredients. Make a well in the centre.

Gently warm the milk over a low heat to 35-45C – use a thermometer if you have one, or test on the inside of your wrist; it should be body temperature. Remove from the heat, add a pinch of sugar and the yeast. Leave for 10 minutes to allow the yeast to activate – it should start to bubble on the surface.

Whisk 2 of the eggs and add to the well in the mixing bowl, along with the milk. Use your hands to bring the mix together. You want a soft, pliable dough – not soggy, but not dry or rough either; you can add some warm water if required.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface for approx. 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Add the mixed peel, currants and/or raisins and incorporate into the dough.

Form a smooth ball with the dough and put in a large, lightly-oiled bowl (not ceramic, too cold). Cover with a tea towel and leave for approx. 2 hours in a warm place to rise, until it has at least doubled in size.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly-floured surface and add the mixed peel, currants and/or raisins bit-by-bit, kneading until fully incorporated.

Divide into 12 balls of dough and place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. They should be reasonably snug, so that when they double in size again they are just touching.

Score a cross in the top of each bun, put the tray in a plastic bag (ensuring that it is not touching the buns, and leave in a warm place for approx. 1 hour or until doubled in size again. 

Preheat the oven to 200C. 

To make the paste for the cross, mix the flour, water and pinch of salt together in a small mixing bowl. When the buns have risen, use a piping bag to pipe a cross onto each.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Gently warm the apricot jam over a low heat, adding a little water if required, to make the glaze. Brush over the warm buns. Leave to cool on a wire rack or, better yet, eat fresh from the oven with plenty of salted butter (you should be able to see teethmarks).

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>