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Archive for April 10th, 2009

I have long felt it is sad that we can buy Hot Cross Buns, with their crosses on, throughout the year. I’d be happy just to have ‘Not Cross’ Buns for most of the year, just putting the crosses on from Good Friday until the end of the Easter season at Pentecost (fifty-two days later) to mark their special seasonal significance. (This year the Dean of St Albans has been saying much the same with an article about reclaiming the Hot Cross Bun in the press.)  Hot Cross Buns are especially good when eaten still warm for breakfast or tea on Good Friday, with or without butter. However, made without the crosses, why restrict them to the Easter season as they can be enjoyed at breakfast or tea at any time of the year!

I love home made Hot Cross Buns and try to make some every year. I have tried different recipes but have never felt I have found that ‘extra special’ one – until, that is, this year. Radio Times this week has a recipe feature including Nigella Lawson’s Spicy Hot Cross Buns from her book Feast: Food that Celebrates Life. Finally a recipe to remember – I will most definitely be making these in future years. Interestingly, Nigella uses Cardamom seeds, one of the ingredients used in the buns mentioned in the St Alban’s article where they are given their ancient name ‘grains of paradise’ – appropriately, in my opinion, as I love them!

100_2509 Spicy Hot Cross Buns

'Meanderings through my Cookbook' http://www.hopeeternalcookbook.wordpress.com

Spicy Hot Cross Buns
(Makes 16)

For the dough:
175ml/6fl ozs milk
50g/2ozs butter
Zest of 1 orange
1 clove
2 cardamom pods
400g/14oz strong white bread flour
1tbsp castor sugar
7g (1packet) easy-blend yeast
100g/4ozs mixed dried fruit
1tsp ground cinnamon
½tsp ground nutmeg
¼tsp ground ginger
1 egg
1 egg beaten with a little milk to make an egg wash
For the crosses:
3tbsp plain flour
½tbsp caster sugar
2tbsp water
For the sugar glaze:
1tbsp caster sugar, dissolved in
1 tbsp boiling water

1.  Heat milk, butter, zest, clove and lightly crushed cardomom pods in a saucepan until the butter melts and leave to infuse.

2.  Measure the flour, sugar, yeast and dried fruit into a bowl and add the spices.

3.  When the infused milk reaches blood temperature, take out the clove and cardamom pods and beat in the egg.

4.  Pour the liquid into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix together.

5.  Knead dough well. If it is too dry then add a little more warm milk. Keep kneading until the dough is smooth and elastic – takes about 10minutes. The dried fruit will keep escaping, but just push it back into the ball. Form dough into a ball, place in a bowl, cover and leave to rise. This can be either overnight in the fridge (the slower the rise the better), at room temperature. If in a hurry I use the airing cupboard, which takes at least 1 hour. (The risen dough should be doubled in size.)

6.  Heat oven to 220oC/Fan Oven 200oF/Gas 7.

7.  Punch the dough down and knead again until elastic. Divide into 16 smooth round buns. (16 means you can just keep halving the mixture.) Place on lightly greased and floured baking sheets, leaving a space between each so it they can rise. Score each with a cross using the back of a knife. Cover with tea towels and leave to rise until doubled again with buns almost joined up on the trays.  (Once more I use the airing cupboard, but this can be done at room temperature.)

8.  Brush the risen buns with egg wash and then carefully spoon/drip flour mix into the scored cross marks. Bake at the top/middle of the oven for 14-16minutes.

9.  When the hot buns come out of the oven, brush immediately with the sugar/water glaze to make them sweet, sticky and shiny. Cool on a wire tray.

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