Good Friday. What is? What is to non-Christians? Who, really, knows what it all means? Catherine Deveney does (oh, mine hero). What does it mean to you? To me, you ask? To me, it means a public holiday to hang out with wonderful people who aren’t at work, it means most of the shops are shut (but not in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, pack of wonderful heathens), it means traffic jams outside the Maronite centre down the road, and it means peeling the X off hot cross buns and eating them first.
On the other hand, my wheat allergy means eating store-bought hot cross buns will make me mighty unhappy. So, I taught myself to make them. Being non-religious (although, could cooking be considered a religion?), I am justifying this by using them to mark the coinciding pagan tradition recognising the Vernal Equinox (which I am, in turn, justifying because I like the stars and the moon and the passing of the seasons why not,). Apparently too, by making them on Good Friday, I am protecting my family from rats, fires, accidents and shipwrecks. And who doesn’t need a little extra protection from shipwrecks? I’m certainly not about to turn it down.
I made two rounds, happily mixed and kneaded and proven while watching Firefly, thereby injecting a little more love and fun and bounty hunting spirit into the dough. I made the first round with spelt flour (to cater for me) and choc chips instead of fruit (to cater for Anna and Sal). Apparently choc chips in hot cross buns is popular only in Australia, thankyou Wikipedia. The second ones were made with all gluten-free ingredients (to cater for Jules), including some miscellaneous flour that Jules produced, possibly white buckwheat, judging by the smell. Yum! yum!!
RECIPE: Hot Cross Buns
Preparation Time: 2 hours
450g flour of your choice
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Mixed spice (i used Garam Masala)
1 tsp. Cinnamon
1 sachet easy blend dried yeast
150g chocolate (i used cooking chocolate, chopped small)
1 egg, beaten
For crosses – 1 tbsp flour and 1.5 tbsp water
Sift flour, salt and spices into a large bowl and rub in butter. Mix in the yeast, chocolate and sugar. Heat milk to hand temp. and whisk into egg before adding to flour mixture, and mix well. This part is very sticky.
Turn dough on to a floured surface and knead for 10 mins or mix in electric mixer with dough hook for 5 mins. The flours I used were, as mentioned, mighty sticky and I ended up adding lots more flour gradually to get the damn dough off my hands. The second lot was particularly irritating. Durn sticky dough.
Divide dough into 12 even pieces of about 75g (3oz) and form into balls. Arrange on an oiled tray leaving space for spreading (although they will join up during baking). Cover with a tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for about one and a half hours till doubled in size. Look at them grow!
To make crosses mix the flour with about one and a half tbsp. water to make a thick batter. I made mine too runny on the first round and they just merged. On the second I cut striped in, in two parallel lines. Apparently that’s what happens in countries where people don’t approve of the cross. Thanks Wikipedia.
If you have a piping bag (with a round nozzle), then pipe a neat cross on each bun. If you don’t, which I don’t, paint it on with a spoon. or be lazy and cut it into the bun.
Bake at 200 C / 400F / Gas 6 for 25 minutes. When cooked, pull buns apart, split them, toast them if you like, smother them in margarine and eat them until you’re full and sick and can’t even think about making dinner. ENJOYPANTS.
THE END OF MY FIRST RECIPE.
The gluten-free un-cross version
The gluten-y, spelty pale cross version, or what little is left.
In other news, happy 50th birthday, Gary Oldman. Live long and prosper.