One a Penny, Two a Penny, Hot Cross Buns!
Hot cross buns are traditionally baked to be eaten during Lent, the 40 days before Easter. The bun acquired mythical properties over the centuries and early literature reveals that the hot cross bun was also known as the Good Friday Bun.
The most famous story says that the origins of the Hot Cross Bun date to the 12th century when an English monk was said to have placed the sign of the cross on the buns to honor Good Friday. Throughout history the bun has received credit for special virtues, among them that of ensuring friendship between two people sharing a bun. An old rhyme states, “Half for you and half for me, between us two, good luck shall be.”
Another tradition holds that a hot cross bun should be kept hanging from the kitchen ceiling from one year to another to ward off evil spirits. Healing properties were also attributed to it. Gratings from a preserved bun were mixed with water to provide a cure for the common cold.
Hot Cross Buns
450g bread (strong) flour
pinch of salt
2 tsp mixed spice
7g fast action dried yeast (generally 1 sachet)
50g caster sugar
275ml warm milk (40 seconds in microwave will do)
200g dried raisins or currants (I don’t like the traditional dried mixed fruit – but if you do, use that instead)
grated rind of an orange
1. Put the flour, salt and mixed spice in a bowl and give them a quick whisk to mix. Rub in the butter to the flour mix until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the yeast, sugar, beaten egg and milk and stir together into a soft dough.
2. Knead for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. If you are using a mixer to make these buns give it five minutes on low with the dough hook. Add in the dried fruit and the grated orange rind and knead for another minute.
3. Roll out the mix slightly and cut the dough into 10 pieces. Roll these into balls on the table using the flat of your hand and place on a baking sheet or tray. Leave their own width again between each bun so they will have room to rise.
4. To make the cross mix 1 Cup flour with about 3 tbls cold water to make a basic soft dough. Roll it out really thin and cut into little strips. Dampen with a little water and stick to the top of each bun. Take a length of plastic wrap and brush with a little cooking oil. Place this loosely on top of the buns (oiled side down) and leave in the kitchen to double in size – about 20 minutes depending on the weather and the warmth of the room. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 390ºF (360ºF if a fan oven) for 20 minutes.
Hot Cross Buns were traditionally brushed with a sugar & water glaze when they’re still hot, but I prefer to brush them with local honey from the Saturday country market in Leghowney, near Donegal Town!
Video & Music by http://www.youtube.com/user/annshelaann