Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hot Cross Buns - an herbal tradition

This week for Christians is called Holy week as they celebrate the trials of Jesus leading to his death and resurrection on Easter Sunday.  This is also the week of the Jewish holiday Passover, which marks the exodus from Egypt.  I found an herb connection to these traditions which made it worth mentioning these sacred and important rituals here.

There are a number of things done in celebration that sets theses days apart from the rest of the year. 
My family traditions are decidedly Anglo-Saxon and Catholic so a big part of our celebration was Hot Cross Buns. The tradition allegedly is derived from ancient Anglo-Saxons who baked small wheat cakes in honor of the springtime goddess, Eostre. After converting to Christianity, the church substituted the cakes with sweetbreads blessed by the church.

Hot Cross Buns are a traditional favorite for Good Friday, Easter, and throughout the Lent season, but they are enjoyable year-round. Yeasty rolls are filled with currants or raisins and nuts, then topped with a cross of icing. In spite of the raisins and icing, these are not sweet rolls but rather have a more savory taste. The hazelnuts are optional.

Hot Cross Buns
  • 3-3/4 to 4-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon Backyard PatchCinnful Dessert Blend
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cooking oil
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2/3 cup currants or raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (filberts) (optional)
  • 1 slightly beaten egg white
  • 1 cup sifted powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon hazelnut liqueur or milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • Milk

In a large mixing bowl combine 1-1/2 cups of the flour, yeast, and Cinnful Dessert Blends (you can substitute cinnamon.)  In a small saucepan heat and stir 3/4 cup milk, the oil, granulated sugar, and salt until warm (120 degrees F to 130 degrees F). Add to flour mixture along with whole eggs. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, scraping bowl. Beat on high speed for 3 minutes.

Using a spoon, stir in currants or raisins, hazelnuts (if desired), and as much of the remaining flour as you can mix in with a wooden spoon. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead in enough remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough (3 to 5 minutes total). Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl; turn once to grease surface. Cover and let rise until nearly double (about 1-1/2 hours).

Punch dough down. Turn out onto a floured surface. Cover and let rest 10 minutes. Divide dough into 20 portions; shape each portion into a smooth ball. Place balls 1-1/2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until nearly double (30 to 45 minutes). With a sharp knife, make a shallow crisscross slash across each bun. Brush with egg white. Bake in a 375-degree F oven for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Cool slightly.

In a mixing bowl combine sifted powdered sugar, hazelnuts liqueur or milk, and vanilla. Stir in milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until it reaches drizzling consistency. Drizzle buns with icing (usually in a cross shape.)  Serve warm.

Yield: 20 buns

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...