20 April 2011

One a Penny, Two a Penny Hot Cross Buns for Invite a Blogger to Your Table

Hot Cross Buns

As seen at the Huffington Post
 I love everything about spring! Spring is a time of renewal when everything seems to come alive!!!!! The days are longer and the markets begin to burst with the colours of  bountiful fruits and vegetables of the pending season. It will soon be time to enjoy fresh rhubarb, the pop of a fresh garden pea and lightly sauteed furled fiddleheads. Spring is the season for asparagus and escarole and a wide variety of lettuce hand plucked from the garden for the perfect green salad. The delightful fragrance of chives, mint, chervil and tarragon fill the air to season our dishes. The forsythia and magnolia are in full bloom so all of these tastes of Spring will soon be bursting from our gardens, forests, markets and window boxes.

The Easter holiday is the perfect time to celebrate all this lovely bright optimism. I remember past seasons when as young girls growing up my sister and I would wear our latest Spring finery and Easter bonnets for celebrations with our family and neighbours. Fast forward to motherhood and I have visions of the bright rosy cheeked face of my own daughter whose face lit up like the sunny faced daffodils surrounding her as she scoured the gardens for Easter eggs and played hide and seek among the willows. The one thread that ties these memories together with the present is the heavenly spicy fragrance of a traditional British currant-studded Easter treat.  Hot Cross Buns graced the table Easter morning piping hot, fresh from the oven and filling the air with their comforting spicy aroma. The perfect bun is sticky and sweet on the outside and soft and moist on the inside packed full of real fruit goodness and a hint of mixed spice.

Despite their deep-rooted and well-revered history, the delightful simplicity of these seasonal treats is often forgotten. Back in the early eighteenth century street vendors cries rang out through the streets of towns and villages in England every Good Friday. They were hugely popular. People ran from their homes to buy warm Hot Cross Buns from the baker’s baskets as they passed by and would keep a bun drying in their kitchen all year to bring the household good luck.

Although they have been a Lenten and Good Friday tradition for centuries, Hot Cross Buns were not always associated with Christianity. Their origins lie in pagan traditions of ancient cultures, with the cross representing the four quarters of the moon. Eventually the Christian church adopted the buns and re-interpreted the icing cross. Queen Elizabeth 1 even passed a law banning the consumption of Hot Cross Buns except during festivals such as Easter, Christmas and funerals.

 All the best Hot Cross Buns are made from a traditional recipe, passed down for generations, mixed and shaped by hand and topped with a cross made from pastry strips, just as they have been for centuries. The sweet, buttery, yeast-leavened buns are dotted with currants and a little candied citrus peel and spiced just right with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. Why not modernize them and used dried cranberries, or dried papaya, mango or pineapple instead of candied peel.

 Here's a recipe to make your own Hot Cross Buns and begin an Easter tradition in your own home.  If you have not made Hot Cross Buns before you will be amazed by the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction baking them brings. Previous years I have made these ahead of time, frozen them and then reheated them in the oven for a few minutes just before serving time. They come out beautifully!

 For this months edition of Invite a Blogger to Your Table I cooked up a storm in my virtual kitchen with my friend Helene of La cuisine d'HélèneSee what she was up to here.

Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to "Invite a Blogger to Your Table"! This is a fun event and an outlet for us each to challenge ourselves and create stronger bonds within the blogging community. Nothing is more intimate, or more effective at creating friendships than cooking and sharing meals together, even it is virtually. But hey, if you live in the same area as another blogger what's to stop you from gathering in your own kitchen for this challenge.

 With these personally imposed challenges my own culinary skills have been rejuvenated and back on track and I am once again inspired. With this ongoing event I will challenge myself and one blogging friend at a time throughout the year as the seasons change. I hope this inspires you to make new friends in the blogging community as well as create something you have been itching to try.

 Your choice of recipe can be anything you would like it to be. Is there something you have been wanting to make and need feedback and encouragement from a friend to create on your blog? Is there a special dish that you just have to share sweet or savoury? Do you just want the fun of collaborating with other bloggers to come up with a tasty dish you feel you and your readers might enjoy. This is a fun event that creates friendships throughout the blogosphere. Invite someone you have followed for years or a perfect stranger. It is up to you!

Here are the "rules" as I see it for now.

Choose a dish to prepare and invite 1(one) blogger to create that dish with you. You can source your recipe from a cookbook, magazine, blog or any other source. Your dish can be sweet or savoury; easy or complicated.  
Decide upon a date that you can both mutually post your recipe within a 4 week time frame.

Link back to More Than Burnt Toast http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com/ somewhere in your post as the caretaker of this event.
 Please feel free to use the Avatar/Badge above "Invite a Blogger to Your Table"
Once you have made your dish with your blogging friend or friends and posted it, you can choose to STOP or CONTINUE on and "invite another blogger to your table" to make something DIFFERENT on a mutually agreeable date within the next 4 week time frame.

If you would  please e-mail Val at bloggerstable(AT)gmail(DOT)com for no other reason than to let her know you have participated. She would love to see what you have accomplished.

Cut and paste these instructions into your post and contact a friend. Let magic happen and let's get cooking!!
Other Easter treats...

Vanilla Infused Icewine Pain Perdu
Tiramisu Pancakes
Brunch Salad with Goats Cheese
Rose Murrays Roasted Tomato Clafouti
Crab Cakes Eggs Benedict with Avgolemono Sauce
Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Maple Raspberry Syrup
The Perfect Shredded Hash Browns
Easy Cheese Danish
Blueberry Stuffed French Toast with Blueberry Orange Sauce
Strawberry Stuffed French Toast
Croissant French Toast with BC Apples and Icewine Whipped Cream

 *Hot Cross Buns*
My inspiration for this recipe comes from The English Kitchen as well as Wild Yeast.

 For the ferment starter
  • 1 large free-range egg, beaten
  • 1 cup warm water
  • 1 Packet Active Dry Yeast equals 1/4 ounce or 2 1/4 teaspoons
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 tablespoons white flour
  For the dough
  • 3 - 3 1/2 cups white flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon  ground ginger
  • 3/8 cup (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, left in fridge(plus extra for greasing)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 3/4 cup (96 g) dried currants or sultanas
  • 1/2 cup mixed candied orange and lemon peel, finely chopped (or use chopped dried mango, papaya or pineapple)

 Piping Paste
  • 3/4 cup pastry flour
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • or 1/2 cup maple syrup 
1. For the ferment starter, mix the beaten egg with enough warm water to make up approximately 290ml/½ pint of liquid. Whisk in the yeast, sugar and flour until the mixture is smooth and well combined, then cover and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes.

2. Sieve the flour, salt and ground mixed spice into a large mixing bowl. Remove the butter from the fridg and on a box grater grate the butter directly into the bowl. Rub in the butter using your fingertips. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, then add the sugar and lemon zest to the well and pour in the ferment starter. Using your hands, gradually draw the flour at the edges of the bowl into the well in the centre, mixing well with the ferment starter, until the mixture comes together as a dough. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly until smooth and elastic. Work the mixed dried fruit into the dough until well combined.

3. Grease a large, warmed mixing bowl with butter.(To warm the bowl rinse with hot water and then dry well). Shape the dough into a ball and place it into the prepared bowl, then cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for one hour to proof.

4. Turn out the proofed dough onto a lightly floured work surface and punch down the dough. Shape it into a ball again and return it to the bowl, then cover again with the tea towel and set aside for a further 30 minutes to rise.

 5. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten slightly into a bun shape using the palms of your hands. Place rolls in greased 9x12-inch cake pan. Cover and allow to rest in a draft-free place for 15 minutes.

6.  Cut a cross in each bun, almost cutting all the way through the dough, so that each bun is almost cut into quarters. Wrap the tray loosely in greaseproof paper, then cover completely with plastic cling film (or place in a large plastic bag. Tie the end of the bag tightly so that no air can get in.) Set aside in a warm place for a further 40 minutes to rise.

 7. Preheat the oven to 240*C/475*F.

 8. While the buns proof, make the glaze. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring often. Remove from the heat and set aside.

 9. Now make the piping paste. Sift the pastry flour and combine it with the vegetable oil. Slowly add water, stirring well after each addition, until the mixture reaches the consistency of very thick glue. Don’t make it so thin that it runs, but if it is too thick it will be difficult to pipe. Spoon the flour mixture into a piping bag and pipe a cross over the cuts in each bun.

 10. Place the buns in the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until risen and pale golden-brown. As soon as you remove the buns from the oven, brush them with the glaze, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.

 Enjoy! We like to split and toast them and then spread them with some softened butter.

 Makes 1 dozen

You are reading this post on More Than Burnt Toast at http://morethanburnttoast.blogspot.com. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of More Than Burnt Toast. All rights reserved by Valerie Harrison.
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  1. Delicious! Not at all like the ones I saw in my local grocery store yesterday! Every year I plan to make some but so far, haven't. This could be the year--especially since it's a baking sort of weather time around here! I'm going to come back and read your challenge a little more closely.


  2. I absolutely love this post and your description of spring and traditions is so lovely

  3. I made hot cross buns last year, but for some reason, I haven't been able to get into the Easter baking like usual. Your version looks absolutely delicious. I am a complete sucker for fruit filled yeasty rolls.

  4. Those look delicious! A perfect Easter treat. A great event.



  5. Thanks for inviting me to your table Val. These buns were delicious. I already have invited another blogger for next month. What a great event!

  6. Val, I love your photos, they are absolutely gorgeous! Your post got me so excited for Spring, lol! Have a wonderful Easter!

  7. Totally with you on loving Spring! I also love going to farmers market each week and seeing more and more variety with each passing week as well.

  8. These are just lovely, Val, and bring back such good memories for me. Although I'm not a practicing Christian, I became deeply fond of these buns while living and working in various former British colonies over the past two decades. Must make my own this year!

  9. Look amazing Vall! I love cross buns, lovely pictures, have a lovely easter Val, gloria

  10. I loved reading about the history of hot cross buns and spring is by far my favorite season. I've never made hot cross buns and yours look and sound wonderful. It might be time to add this tradition and make them for good Friday. Thanks for sharing :o)

  11. I have never had a hot crossed bun before... they look wonderful.

  12. Val, these look really wonderful. We always have Hot Cross Bun's on Good Friday. I'll be featuring a French version of them tomorrow. Have a wonderful day. Blessings...Mary

  13. Hot crossed buns in the grocery store always look nasty and dry. I'll have to give homemade a chance because yours look downright delicious. Thanks for all the historical tidbits, too!

  14. I know I'm Jewish, and it probably doesn't count, but I've never had a hot cross bun either.

  15. What a good idea to add in different dried fruits! I would love to try this with papaya. Mmm. :-)

  16. Hot cross buns have been on my to-do list for a while and I am afraid they will remain there for the time being, since I won't be able to bake the next few days. Yours look perfectly delightful, Val.

  17. I'm loving all the spring produce too, and I just brought home some locally grown rhubarb this morning. I've made hot cross buns once before, and now I'm craving them. Yours look fantastic!

  18. these hot cross buns are so adorable! I'm pretty sure I could gobble up the majority of the batch...as a precursor to breakfast or brunch.

  19. I have never eaten a hot cross bun before. They look great! I do know the song quite well, though. :)

  20. Looks delicious Val, now where's my French butter? :)

  21. Hi Val,
    These look sooo good and I'm looking forward to making them ~ you take beautiful photo's!
    I have a question please...
    in the 'Dough ingredients', it states 3/4 sugar...3/4 what??
    Thanks kindly,
    Barbara in Toronto

  22. Val...
    Further to the 3/4 sugar question. In checking the 2 websites you mentioned above, I believe one used 1/3 cup brown sugar and the other used 4 3/4 tbsp white sugar.
    If you're using 3/4 cup sugar, can I cut back on that? Please advise.
    Thanks kindly,
    Barbara in Toronto

  23. Thanks for pointing that out Barbara. Yes it is a cip and yes you can add less, although I think the flavour of these is just perfect, but cooking and baking are all about experimentation and science.

  24. The buns look delish...and I enjoyed your reminiscences of Easters past. I, too, remember being all fancied up with my sister and our Easter bonnets. God, that was a long time ago!

  25. Yummy sticky buns...refreshing Spring...memories...cherishable moments...and all there's missing is a photo with you and your sister with bonnets ;o)

    Have a great day and flavourful wishes,

  26. Gorgeous pictures! Loving your blog, so glad to be a follower! :)

  27. Those buns look so yummy... I'm not much of a baker, looking at your pics makes me wish I were better at it!

  28. Spring is my favorite time of year too - when everything comes to life again.

    This sounds like a delicious recipe for hot cross buns!

  29. These are sure some lovely buns. {snicker, snicker} I remember my mom making these and don't know if I actually didn't care for them at the time, or just wasn't quite ready for the more adult flavors.

  30. I haven't made hot cross buns for years. My favourite recipe was from an old Chatelaine cookbook. So good. Yours look wonderful.

  31. These buns look gorgeous! They are the perfect Easter morning treat :) Happy Spring and Easter! PS: I have a fun giveaway going on right now...stop by and check it out!

  32. Hi Val, I love all of your vivid descriptives of spring in this post! Truly you must be a writer with the words that you pen! I've never made Hot Cross Buns, and I can imagine how wonderful they taste! I hope that you have a wonderful holiday weekend and that spring's joys are soon upon you in Canada! Thanks for all of your kind and supportive comments!

  33. These were really timely - both you and Helene did a great job. They're one of my favourites of all time.

  34. Val, I'm just jumping in to wish you a happy Easter. I saw you post on Huffington Post as well. Congratulations. Blessings...Mary

  35. why, oh why are hot cross buns only trotted out during easter? they're so tasty! :)

  36. Easter is so much fun and the beginning for me of spring. These buns are so beautiful Val. I wish I had one roght now.

  37. No mashed potatoes in your recipe...the ingredients do sound lovely and flavourful. I love this initiative and already stopped by Helene's and wrote to her. I have missed far too many of your motivating ideas, Valerie! Just scrolling through was frustrating as I don't have time to catch up with all - at least not right now. The crusted lamb - YUMMMERS... so many lovely dishes. And the royal wedding soup is a great idea, too!
    I am sorry I have again neglected reading your posts. The Eat Alberta Conference was last Saturday, and I am just returning to some frame of normalcy!


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