Good Friday: hot cross buns

by Patricia on April 11, 2009

What do you know about hot cross buns?  Until this week, I knew very little.  Unlike many other houses, it was not a tradition in my house growing up to have them before Easter.  But I see them around and am curious about these sorts of traditions so I consulted my good friend Wikipedia.  It turns out there are a lot of superstitions related to hot cross buns and how you eat them and with whom you eat them.  For example:

If hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly. The hanging bun is replaced each year.

I’m not sure I’ll be hanging a bun in my kitchen but it would be nice to have a little insurance for my breads.  This, however, is my favorite superstition listed about the hot cross bun:

Sharing a hot cross bun with another is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if “Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be” is said at the time.

So let’s share a hot cross bun, shall we?  Half for you…

hot cross bun

 And half for me… (my half was camera shy)

Between us two goodwill shall be…  Cool. So now we’re friends for at least a year.  I’m always happy to make more friends.

The other bit about hot cross buns that I found interesting is that some people in Australia and New Zealand have started to replace the citron and raisins (or currants) with chocolate chips.  So for the hot cross buns I made, I pretended I was down under or a Kiwi and added chocolate.  (Chocolate makes everything better).  I like them a lot better than the ones with the mystery citron bits.

Hot cross buns (adapted from the Joy of Cooking)

1 cup milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 cup choc. chunks/chips
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons hot/warm water (105-115 degrees)
1 egg
2 2/3 cup – 3 cups all-purpose flour (sifted before measuring)

1. Heat milk to almost boiling (scald).  Add sugar, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt and stir until dissolved.

2. In a large bowl, sprinkle yeast over the warm water.

3.  When the milk mixture has cooled to lukewarm, add it to the yeast.

4. Beat in egg.

5. Stir in part of the flour, knead in the rest. Use only enough flour to form a dough that can be easily handled (I used about 3 cups because it was a very sticky dough).  About halfway through (when the dough is still pretty loose and stir-able), mix in the chocolate.

6. Place dough in a greased bowl and brush the top with melted butter.  Cover with a damp tea towel and let rise until doubled in bulk (about an hour? I let mine sit for a few hours while I ran a couple errands).

7. After first rise, shape dough into 18-20 balls and place on a greased baking sheet.  Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk (about 30 minutes – 1 hour).

8. Bake in a preheated oven 425, for 15-20 minutes.

9. decorate with traditional cross using milk glaze:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 tsp hot milk

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

10. Share with a friend.

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