The week leading up to Good Friday stirs a animalistic panic somewhere deep in my subconscious.
It’s the fear that I’ve squandered the weeks of plenty, where Hot Cross Buns were stacked 6ft high at the entrance to every supermarket.
The (now four) months of bunly-goodness have quickly come to an end and caught all of us by surprise. All we have left on the holiday food horizon are Anzac biscuits and then we’re cast adrift on a barren sea until the return of fruit mince pies in October.
As you know a big part of my motivation for baking arose from an enduring desire to eat tasty baked treats I couldn’t find in bakeries at home. And while the buns are plentiful for a quarter of the year here, I found myself living in Finland where the mention of a Hot Cross Bun evoked a reaction of perplexed staring, as if I’d strung three unrelated words together. (You’d think the Finns could relate to that).
While I’m not taking the credit for introducing HCBs to Central Finland… this recipe clearly contributed to something…
700 grams of plain flour, sifted
55 grams of (¼ cup) raw caster sugar
2 packets of dried yeast (14 gm)
1 teaspoon of allspice, cinnamon, cardamom and ground ginger
1 teaspoon of salt
250 grams of (1½ cups) sultanas
100 grams of candied mixed peel
Rind of one lemon
300 mls of milk
100 grams of unsalted butter
55 gm (¼ cup) caster sugar
¼ tsp mixed spice
50 g flour
¼ cup water
Combine the flour, sugar, yeast, spices, sultanas, mixed peel and sea salt in a large mixing bowl.
Gently warm the milk and butter over a low heat until butter melts and mixture is tepid – don’t let it get too hot as this will kill the yeast. Add the egg to milk mixture and whisk to combine.
Make a well in the centre of flour mixture, add the milk mixture all at once and stir. You can either kneed by hand for 10 minutes if you’re feeling virtuous or mix on speed 2 for 5 mins in your stand mixer.
Leave the dough in the bowl to rise in a warm place for 40 minutes or until at least doubled in size.
This dough is fairly forgiving and I like to let it rise longer up to 90 mins to give a lighter texture.
Knock back the dough and cut into 16 equal pieces. Gently knead each piece into a ball, place each into a lightly greased 22cm-square cake pan – just touching one another. Cover with a tea towel and stand in a warm place for 40 minutes or until doubled in size.
Preheat oven to 220C.
Combine 50 grams of flour and ¼ cup water and stir to a smooth paste. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a fine nozzle. Pipe lines down each row to form crosses.
Bake at 220C for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 200C and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until golden. (They’re ready when they sound hollow when tapped).
While the buns are still hot combine spices and sugar with ¼ cup water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Brush glaze over still hot buns, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.
These buns are delicious with lashings of salty butter and sweet lingonberry jam.
Enjoy and rest easy that the annual bun panic can now be quietened in your restless subconscious.
Hyvää Pääsiäistä – Happy Easter