Sunday, April 5, 2009

Knead Shipwreck Insurance This Easter?

I can appreciate the ritual in religion. After fumbling my reaction to the death of a family fish, (I'll get back to you on the details of that one), I then found myself at something of a loss presiding over the last rites. The fish and I weren't particularly close, and with limited anecdotal remembrances up my sleeve, I could have done with a relevant, resonating prayer or two.

When religious holidays roll around, I have a similar unease. I am very happy for my kids to learn about all kinds of religious beliefs, but I am not happy to preach them. Conversely, I do not want Easter to be just about eating their own body weight in chocolate eggs.

Given these inconsistencies, this time last year, I was looking to establish a ritual that fit with us. While matter-of-factly explaining the relevance of hot cross buns, the emphasis was definitively weighed toward the making of them. And what is it with that intangible calm, that descends on a home, as the dough is kneaded and the oven bakes? It was a glorious way to spend a Good Friday labouring over batch after batch (don't even try to think you can stop at one).

For weeks I have been anticipating getting my hands on that ritual again. So, yesterday, when Mr Myrtleandeunice started bemoaning the lack of lead-up-to-Easter-hot-cross-bun in his life, I needed no further encouragement. Call it a practice run. I have also sourced the best-ever recipe in the world. It's full of WAY more promise than you'd expect from a bun...

Chef: Karen Goodwin-Roberts (as sourced from ABC Hobart)

Traditional folklore has it that hot cross buns, those familiar shiny round buns with their dark currants sticking out here and there, are descended from pagan days when the vernal equinox was celebrated. If properly made on the actual day - Good Friday -they are supposed to PROTECT THE WHOLE FAMILY FROM FIRES, RATS, ACCIDENTS AND SHIPWRECKS!
(See? Best-ever recipe...)

Serves: 12 • Preparation time: 2 hours

You need:
450g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
50g butter
1 sachet easy blend dried yeast
75g sultanas
25g chopped mixed peel
50g castor sugar
225ml milk
1 egg, beaten
For crosses: 1tbsp flour and 1.5tbsp water
(nb. The Myrtleandeunice's also mix a little apricot jam and water to glaze over the tops)

• Sift flour, salt and spices into a large bowl and rub in butter
• Mix in the yeast, sultanas, peel and sugar
• Heat milk to hand temperature and whisk in egg before adding to flour mixture
• Mix well
• Turn dough on to floured surface and knead for 10 mins or mix in electric mixer with dough hook for 5 mins
• Divide dough into 12 even pieces of about 3oz (75g) and form into balls
• Arrange in a roasting tin leaving space for spreading although they will join up during baking
• Cover with a tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for about 1.5 hours until doubled in bulk
• To make crosses mix the flour and water to make a thick batter
• Fill piping bag (with a round nozzle) and pipe a neat cross on each bun
• Bake at 400F/Gas 6/200C for 25 minutes

Serving suggestion: pull away buns, split and serve plain or toasted with butter

And, finally:

Recipe adapted for dear friends of the non-Easter persuasion.


Anonymous said...

Oh man, these look delicious! And I need all the rat protection I can get!

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

I love the idea that I can be protected from calamity by eating a bun . Isn't it lucky they're so delicious !

Anonymous said...


Undoubtedly, The Best-Ever Recipe!

Thank you so much!

L x

Margaret said...

Great recipe! thank you. It's top of the list for Friday!

Anonymous said...

Yum they look sooooo delicious, thankyou for the recipe.

Anonymous said...

oh. my. goodness. the unbelievable has happened... a successful batch of hot cross buns... (although I do admit to them not looking quite so gorgeous as yours.)
you must have some magic in that recipe. and I venture to say that not one rat has been seen to be leaving a sinking ship either.