The thing that’s dull about being a Christian in the Aussie suburbs is that there are very few traditions attached to the faith. One attends church, has a cup of tea and goes home. But when Easter comes around all of a sudden traditions come seeping out of the wood work. My favourite of these traditions (apart from reading The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe) is making hot cross buns. These little sweet buns require patience and precicion but once you get the knack they are a breeze to make and will always impress the family on Good Friday. Especially when served toasted with fresh home-made butter.
For other times of the year, these buns taste great if baked individually in muffin tins without the cross and they will also have a slightly longer shelf life.
The buns can be frozen for a few months too, but I doubt they will survive that long.
1 1/2 cups Saltanas
1/2 cup Port
2/3 cup candied peel
2 cups dark chocolate chips
5 cups Flour
3 tsp Dried yeast
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Ground ginger
3 tsp Nutmeg
4 tsp Salt
1 1/2 cups Milk
100ml Olive oil
1/4 cup Malt extract
2 tbsp Water
1 tbsp Malt extract
1 tbsp Sugar
2 tbsp water
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
1. In a small bowl cover the sultanas in port and cover (a cheap mouth burning style of port is best for this job). Let this stand for at least 2 hours and drain.
2. In a large seporate bowl, mix the flour, yeast, spices and salt together with the saltanas and candied peel (or chocolate chips).
3. In a saucepan, heat the milk, oil and malt extract until 55 degrees Celsius. Beat in the egg and add immediately to the dry ingredients. Mix until combined.
4. Plonk the dough onto a clean and lightly floured surface. Knead the dickens out of it for eight minuets (enough time to listen to Don McLean’s American Pie) then place into a greased bowl and cover with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place for 1 hour hour until it has doubled in size.
5. Punch the dough to deflate it slightly and cut it into 16peiaces. lightly knead each peice into a ball and line them up in a greased 30 by20 cm size baking dish. Cover again and set back in your cozy spot until the buns have doubled in size .
6. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees celcious. Mix the 1/4 of flour with some water to make the cross mix. Pour it into a piping bag with a round nozzle and pipe in rows over the buns to make the crosses. Place the buns into the middle of the oven and bake for 20min or until they are browned and sound hollow when tapped.
7. For the glaze: Mix malt extract, water, sugar and spices together in a saucepan and bring to boil until it forms a runny syrup. Brush two coats of the glaze over the buns, allowing a few minutes between each coat.
8. Cut between the buns and loosen them from the sides of the tray before turning them onto a wire rack to cool.
Serve fresh from the oven with home-made butter and a cup of hot malted milk.
Happy Easter to everyone!