It creeps up on us every year. Just after we've finally digested that last 8th serving of Christmas dinner, special 'holiday foods' make its way back onto tabletops. Before we can say 'I can't believe it's already April' - Easter is here. Wonderful really, as the spice and fruit flavours impregnated into sweet bread are a highlight of Australia's Autumn.
Hot Cross Buns are an Easter staple, originally from Europe but now enjoyed in a number of countries around the world. Like the religious holiday itself, Hot Cross Buns commemorate biblical stories, with the cross on top symbolising the Crucifixion of Jesus, the spices representing his embalming and they are traditionally eaten on Good Friday to commemorate the event.
As Australia celebrates Easter opposite of European springtime and cosies up with a cuppa and some buttered buns, why not let native aromas fill your kitchen and enjoy an Australian adaptation to an old favourite.
For the buns
625g strong white flour, a little extra for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon anise, powder
1/4 teaspoon anise myrtle, powder
1/2 teaspoon lemon myrtle, powder
45g butter, grated
2-3 finger limes, peel finely diced.
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast (dried is fine)
1 free-range egg
275ml luke-warm milk
75g muntries fresh, dried or frozen and thawed
50g riberries fresh, dried or frozen and thawed
50g chocolate chips (optional)
Note: You can use any combination of fruit you like up to about 125g.
For the cross
1/4 cup self raising flour
For the glaze
Any Jam, honey or maple syrup, slightly warmed. You can also make a syrup with warm water, sugar and cinnamon anise.
Sieve flour, salt and spices in mixing bowl. Rub in butter with your fingers. Add zest, yeast and sugar. Beat eggs separately and then add to the mix along with the milk. Mix to a soft dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured bench and work in the mixed fruit. Knead lightly for about 3-5 minutes.
Grease a large mixing bowl lightly with butter or oil. Shape the dough into a large ball, place in the bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Set aside in a warm place for an hour.
Turn out onto your lightly floured again work surface and ‘knock back the dough’, which is just another very quick knead. Put back in the bowl, cover for another 30 minutes to prove (rise some more). Don't overwork your buns at any point. you will be sorely disappointed when they come out of the oven like rock cakes.
Preheat your oven to 200.C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Mix self-raising flour and water.
Turn out one more time and divide the mixture into 6 large or 12 small pieces and form them into individual balls and flatten with your fingertips. Cover and rest for a final 15 minutes. Pipe crosses onto the buns.Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 180°C and bake for a further 15 minutes. Brush buns with jam, syrup or honey while hot.