Sunday, April 5, 2009
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...
HOT CROSS BUNS
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
450g plain flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 sachet easy blend dried yeast
25g chopped mixed peel
50g castor sugar
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
NOT CROSS BUNS
Recipe adapted for dear friends of the non-Easter persuasion.