While it means many things to many people, Easter, in my eyes, has always been the official start of Spring.
Of course, along with a holiday comes traditional food. What’s traditionally eaten on Easter for your family?
We usually have ham (barbequed, weather permitting), Polish potato salad, asparagus, carrots, and green beans, and them something fruity and experimental for dessert (I say experimental because it’s usually some random, exotic recipe that I insist on making, and my family is kind enough to eat it – good or bad). Two mainstays, however, are Babka (Polish Easter Bread), and Hot Cross Buns.
This year I’ve decided to make my own Hot Cross Buns, and I’m more than happy to share the recipe with you. It’s originally from Canadian Living, but I made a couple of changes (I, ahem, ran out of flour and couldn’t find currants…), so feel free to give either one a try. Also, the buns themselves are quite large, so if you’re looking for more of a traditional size, make about 14 and bake them close together so you have pull-apart buns.
Hot Cross Buns
½ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup warm water
1 package (2 ¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 heaping tablespoon whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon ground cloves
¾ cup plus 1 tablespoon skim milk, warmed
¼ cup melted butter
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup mixed dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, candied pineapple and mango)
¼ cup chopped candied citrus peel
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons water
½ cup icing sugar
2 teaspoons water
1) In small bowl, dissolve 1 tablespoon of the sugar in warm water. Stir in yeast and let stand for 5-10 minutes, or until foamy. While the yeast is proofing, whisk together the rest of the sugar, flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and cloves in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre.
2) In another small bowl, whisk together milk, melted butter, egg and egg yolk, and vanilla. Pour over the dry ingredients, and then pour in the yeast mixture. Stir until a soft dough forms and then knead for about 8 minutes, until smooth and elastic.
3) Place dough in a large greased bowl and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free spot for one hour, or until doubled in size.
4) After the hour, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead the fruit and citrus peel in. Roll into a 12-inch log and cut into 9 equal-sized pieces. Shape each piece into a ball, pulling from the top and pushing the edges down so the seam is on the bottom and the top is smooth. Place the buns at least 2 inches apart on a greased baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise until doubled in size, about 35 minutes. Bake in 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 13-15 minutes, or until the tops of the buns are golden brown.
5) For the glaze, stir sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until dissolved. Brush the tops of the buns with the mixture and let cool.
6) For the icing, stir the icing sugar and cinnamon with water and transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Pipe a cross on top of each cooled bun.