Irish hot cross buns recipe for Easter
Hot cross buns are traditionally baked for eating during Lent, the 40 days before Easter. The bun acquired mythical properties during the centuries and early literature reveals that the hot cross bun was better known as the Good Friday Bun.
The most famous story says the hot cross bun's origins 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 for 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.
There are loads of delicious ways to eat this legendary treat: you can slice them, toast them and butter them! I love them with homemade strawberry jam! This recipe is based on one from my Granny and it makes about 10 buns.
4 Cups bread (strong) flour
pinch of salt
2 tspn mixed spice
6 tbsp butter
2 tspn (1 packet) active dry yeast
1/4 Cup Caster Sugar
1 Cup Warm Milk (30 seconds in microwave will do)
1 Cup Dried Seedless Raisins
grated rind of an orange
Put the flour, salt and mixed spice in a bowl and give them a quick whisk to mix. Add the yeast, sugar, beaten egg and milk and stir together into a soft dough.
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.
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.
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.
The hot cross buns are traditionally brushed with a sugar & water glaze when they're still hot, but I prefer to brush them with local honey! Enjoy!
For more from Zack see www.IrishFoodGuide.ie.
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