It is approaching Eastertime and that means it is the perfect excuse to fill your face with hot cross buns. There are few things as delicious. Grigson says that the bought buns simply don’t live up to proper old-fashioned, home-made ones on account of the omission of the butter, egg and milk and the reduction of spices. I was, therefore, quite excited about the prospect of eating my first real bona fide hot cross bun.
To make them start with a quantity of the basic bun dough that has had spices mixed in with flour. You’ll need one level teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and mixed spice, plus half a teaspoon of ground mace. Once you knock back the dough, knead in 3 ounces of raisins and 2 ounces of candied chopped peel. Roll and stretch out the dough into a long sausage and cut it into 18 discs. Roll them into balls and place on baking sheets that have been lined with greaseproof paper. Make sure you leave space enough for them to rise. Brush with beaten egg. Now roll out three ounces of either marzipan or shortcrust pastry and cut strips for the crosses, gluing them onto the buns with beaten egg. Cover the buns and let them prove for about 30 or 40 minutes. Bake at 230⁰C for 10 to 15 minutes. Toward the end of cooking, make a bun wash by boiling together 2 ounces of sugar with 5 tablespoons of water until syrupy. Brush the buns with this whilst they’re still hot and sprinkle over some crushed sugar lumps.
FYI: hot cross buns have nothing to do with Christianity. They are traditionally eaten on Good Friday and many people think that the cross symbolises the crucifix upon Jesus was crucified. Not so. The buns were eaten by Saxons to honour the goddess Eostre – the real reason why Easter exists. The cross itself symbolised the four quarters of the lunar cycle.
#237 Hot Cross Buns. These were very delicious indeed. The dough was very light, yet rich at the same time and the marzipan cross really added to the indulgence. The truly were better than a bought bun – in fact, a totally different creature. Have a go at making them yourself over Easter; they may not be the most pretty-looking hot cross buns you’ve ever seen, but they will be the tastiest! 9/10.