Happy Easter: British Hot Cross Buns

I couldn’t actually care less about Easter. Seriously, it’s just some religious fest that’s somehow turned into Easter egg hunts and excessive chocolate consumption. Call me a cynic, but I just don’t see the point.

I really couldn’t care less about Easter – if it weren’t for the baking. Ok, ok, I admit it, any holiday that’s connected to some kind of traditional baking can’t be that bad in my books. So, Easter’s actually kind of alright!

You see, in the UK they have these traditional hot cross buns that they eat for Easter. They’re basically little round sweet bread buns, made from a firm yeast dough. They’re flavoured with lots of cinnamon (yes!) and other delicious spices, and dotted with dried fruit.

Traditionally, hot cross buns are eaten on Good Friday – the cross being the symbol for Christ’s crucification. But these days you tend to get hot cross buns in supermarkets all year round – so they’ve kinda lost their magic a bit. Shame.

Still, even though you get hot cross buns all year round now, I’d never made them.

Consider this: I’ve been in this country for nearly 9 whole years, and had never even attempted to make hot cross buns. Why? I just never really trusted myself to make a version good enough to get the stamp of approval from my British friends. I mean, living in this country and enjoying its culinary treats is ok, but telling people you can make such a classic treat and you suddenly have to compete with friends’ childhood memories of their gran’s perfect buns. A tough game to win!

April 7, 2012

Then, this Easter I decided to throw all those hesitations to the side, pull up my sleeves and give it a go. And hey, they’re super easy to make! They’re basically like making bread or Christmas Stollen. You need to work the yeast dough, give it some elbow grease, then let the dough rest for an hour, work it again, let it rest again etc and then bake.

So, a word of warning: these do take some time to make! But, they’re very easy and super yum. Expect a chewy bread texture, with bursts of dried fruit and strong spices. You should eat them while they’re still hot, but they’re actually just as good the next day when you toast them. Then spread a generous portion of butter on them, and maybe some jam, and enjoy!

As for the ‘stamp of approval matter’, my neighbour, who happens to be very British, said he’d thoroughly enjoyed my hot cross buns. Now, if that’s not a proper thumbs up, then I don’t know what will do. So, on that note, a Happy Easter to everyone! Hope you get to do some baking over the long weekend!