I had something different planned for today, but when I went to Bread Ahead to buy my wholemeal sourdough bread this morning, the Hot Cross Buns literally jumped out and bit me! They looked so good (unlike the lackluster ones from supermarkets) having just come from the oven and today is Good Friday – the significant day for hot cross buns!
Hot Cross Buns date back to pagan times and the Anglo-Saxon Goddess of dawn and fertility, Eostre – the cross represented the four phases of the moon. It’s not hard to see why the Christians adapted hot cross buns and Eostre for Easter.
It is said that Queen Elizabeth I decreed that hot cross buns could only be sold on Good Friday, Christmas and for burials. Apparently, they were too good for other days. Good Friday stuck and until a couple of decades ago, when the supermarkets arrived, hot cross buns were only sold on that day. Personally, I believe that selling packets of inexpensive hot cross buns (from the week after Christmas) cheapens something special. I thoroughly approve of the fact that Bread Ahead only sell hot cross buns for the month before Easter …though a week would be better!
If you don’t live close enough to buy these special hand made buns, here’s the Bread Ahead recipe:
To make 12 buns:
250g strong white bread flour
40g caster sugar
6g mixed spice
30g unsalted butter
25g mixed peel
30g peeled, cored and diced apple
8g fresh yeast (4 dried yeast)
140g full fat milk
100g strong white flour
A pinch of caster sugar
A pinch of fine sea salt
100g caster sugar
50ml lemon juice
Put the dry ingredients into a bowl. Rub in the butter to make a dusty mass. Mix the yeast into lukewarm milk, add to the dry ingredients and combine. Turn out the dough and knead until it’s nice and smooth. Stretch out the dough into a circle and add the fruit to the centre, fold over. Roll and fold the dough until the fruit is evenly distributed. Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave at room temperature for an hour or until it has doubled in size. Line a baking tray with baking parchment. Place the mixture on a lightly floured surface and cut into 12 pieces. Roll them into a smooth balls and place on the tray, leave plenty of room – they will spread out. Cover with a tea towel and leave to double in size.
While the buns prove make the cross mixture and the glaze. Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and 100g water until you have a smooth paste, pour into a piping bag with a 4mm plain nozzle.
Put the sugar, lemon juice and 100g water into a small pan. Bring to the boil and simmer until the temperature reaches 105°C, about five minutes. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
When the buns have proved, pipe a cross on the top of them and bake for 14-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and place on a rack. After two minutes, brush with the bun glaze.