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Buns a’baking.

March 24, 2015
Picture (not mine, stolen from thinterweb) of Hot X Buns - love the pattern.

Picture (not mine, stolen from thinterweb) of Hot X Buns – love the pattern.

I’m quite often hot and cross, more often due to the menopause than baking deliciously spiced buns, cakes or fragrant breads for others to eat.  However, we have reached the time of year when it is incumbent on me to bake some Hot Cross Buns for our beloved customers (and of course my own beloved), it being close to Easter (wasn’t Christmas only 5 minutes ago?) and that time when we all make traditional food with no idea why the tradition is there since we are all pagans and atheists these days.

Baking these gorgeous cushions of delicious doughiness makes me happy, not cross.  Most forms of baking make me happy actually, it is incredibly therapeutic and you get to eat the results.  Which obviously means eating baked goods quite a lot when I have been on a roll (s’cuse the pun) at the cafe, and soon thereafter comes promises to self never to eat any more cake/ice cream/chips/mayonnaise and all other things that make life worth living again, ever.  It’s a circular thing, I get over it.

Just FYI, the hot cross bun’s story goes back to pagan times and was apparently a tribute to Eostre, the Saxon goddess of light.  The buns were baked to ‘mark the return of the dominance of light following the vernal equinox’.  Easter clearly led to the Christianised ‘Easter” but was probably derived from the goddess Hausos, of the dawn, who was associated with fertility linked with rabbits and eggs.  And so now of course we know which came first.  The egg.  And the rabbit.  The cross on the bun was adopted by the Christians, in that clever way they had, but was actually a Celtic cross with equal length bars representing the intersection of earth (the horizontal line) and Heaven (the vertical line), the human and divine. So it can be all things to all anybodies, and no need to get into a pucker about whether you are going to be hauled into the local parish church and charged with satanism for making your crosses out of icing instead of tasteless pastry either.  Apparently some people used to nail them to the walls as well, for luck, or something.  Never can tell about people.

This is a recipe I have found by Richard Bertinet, which I think looks perfect, mostly because there is rum involved.  I am going to make these little darlings, so if you do too please let me know how you get on.  (I found it on a site that also had a bit about Raymond Blancs kitchen secrets – don’t get me started, his biggest secret is how to sell out while still appearing smug and saint like. CANNOT bear him).  By the way if you don’t have a mixer, or dough hook if you do have a mixer, don’t panic.  Use your hands, the best tools in any cook’s drawer (erm…) as almost said by brother chef Barny, and never mind the speeding up and slowing down thing, mix the ingredients in the bowl and then tip out onto a floured surface and get kneading.


0.5 tsp Mixed spice

80 g (2.8oz) Mixed peel

180 g (6.3oz) Currants or sultanas

250 ml (8.8fl oz) Full-fat milk

3 Large eggs

60 g (2.1oz) Unsalted butter, diced

500 g (17.6oz) Strong bread flour

2 tbsp Caster sugar

20 g (0.7oz) Fresh yeast

0.25 tsp Salt

100 g (3.5oz) Plain flour – for the cross paste

1 Pinch of salt – for the cross paste

1 tsp Vegetable oil – for the cross paste

100 g (3.5oz) Sugar – for the rum sugar syrup glaze

100 ml (3.5fl oz) Water – for the rum sugar syrup glaze

2 tbsp Dark rum – for the rum sugar syrup glaze


1. First make the cross paste. Sift the flour into a bowl. Add the salt and oil, then add 4 tbsp water a little at a time to form a paste that can be piped. Set aside until required.

2. To make the buns, put the mixed spice, mixed peel and currants or sultanas into a bowl and set aside. Tip the milk and 1 egg into a mixer with the dough hook attached. Add the butter, flour, sugar, yeast and salt and mix slow speed for 5 minutes, until the mixture forms a dough. Increase the speed to medium for 6–8 minutes, or until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl. Add the spice and fruit mix on a slow speed for 1–2 minutes.

3. Turn the dough out onto a worktop and form it into a ball. Put it back into the mixing bowl, cover with a clean cloth and leave it to rest in a draught-free place for an hour.

4. When the dough has risen and nearly doubled in size, carefully tip it out on to your work surface and divide it into satsuma size balls. Roll each piece into a tight ball and place them on a buttered baking tray, close to each other.

5. Make an egg wash by beating the remaining 2 eggs with a pinch of salt. Brush each bun with a little egg wash and place in a warm place for about 11/2 hours, until risen.

6. Preheat a fan oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas 4.. I f you don’t have a fan oven, adjust the temperature according to your oven manufacturer’s instructions. Brush the buns again with the egg wash and pipe a cross on top of each one, using the cross paste. Bake in the oven for 18–20 minutes. Remove the buns from the oven and transfer them to wire racks to cool.

7. For the rum sugar syrup glaze, mix the sugar and 100ml/31/2fl oz/1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to the boil for 4 minutes. Add the rum. Brush over the top of the cooled buns. Serve immediately, or store in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Alternatively freeze and defrost at room temperature before serving.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Alison permalink
    March 24, 2015 5:20 pm


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