Hot Cross Buns - "Half for you and half for me, between us two good luck shall be!"
Hot cross buns are traditionally baked for Lent, the 40 days before Easter. On Good Friday they have been served to commemorate Christ's suffering on the cross. However, the bun acquired mythical properties during the centuries. Early literature reveals that the hot cross bun was better known as the Good Friday Bun. The most famous story says the hot cross buns origins date to the 12th century when an Anglican monk was said to have placed the sign of the cross on the buns to honour Good Friday, the Friday just before Easter Sunday. 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 and this recipe is based on one from my mother-in-law and makes about 10 buns.
Traditional Hot Cross Buns My Ingredients: 16oz bread (strong/bakers) flour pinch of salt 2 tspn mixed spice 3oz butter 1 level teaspoon fast action dried yeast (generally 1 sachet) 1/4 cup caster sugar 1 egg 9 fl oz warm milk (40seconds in the microwave will do!) 1 1/2 cups dried raisins or currants (I don't like the traditional dried mixed fruit - but if you do, use that instead) grated rind of 1 orange My Method:
Put the flour, salt and mixed spice in a bowl and give them a quick whisk to mix. This is much better that shifting for breaking lumps and blending ingredients together. 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 3/4 Cup plain flour with about 3 tbls cold water to make a simple dough. Roll it out thin and cut into little strips. Dampen with a little water and stick to the top of each bun.
Take a length of cling film and brush with a little cooking oil. Place this on top of the buns and leave in the kitchen to double in size - about 20 minutes depending on the weather and the warm of the room!
Bake in a pre-heated oven at 400°F (350°F if it's a fan oven) for 20-25 minutes. The hot cross buns are traditionally brushed with a sugar & water glaze when still hot but I prefer to brush them with local honey, from the Saturday country market in Leghowney, near Donegal Town!\