Easter time as a child was always hot crossed buns season (Although now you seem to see them all year round, which is a shame in my opinion). I don’t remember my mother ever making them, it doesn’t mean she didn’t, it just means that my only memory, is of the ones she bought. She would toast them and slather them in butter and jam – and I used to look forward to Easter time so much. Easter egg hunts through the woods, pot luck lunches at church, or caravanning, usually in Holland. A lot of my childhood was miserable, so those special moments, the good memories are the ones I cling on to and they all have something to do with my mother. She is a very special lady, at times completely and utterly barmy, as mad as a hatter, but she is wonderful. She doesn’t seem to care what people think of her, from an outsider looking in, she looks liberated. My mother is kind, caring, generous, she always has time to do something for someone else, even when she really doesn’t. She is loopy, she jumps around like a crazy woman, regularly has hair like Einstein, she has no sense of fashion, from any era, let alone today’s but she looks beautiful all the time. She has something wrong with one of her hips and when she stands for too long it causes her pain, so she stands on one leg like a flamingo because it seems to elevate the pain. She works so hard all of the time that if she was to sit down for five minutes, she’ll fall asleep mid-sentence, usually hers! She probably won’t thank me for this, but she turns 60 this year, she goes to bed between 0200 and 0300, and then she gets up again at 0500 and 0700 at the latest. She works hard every day usually doing something for someone else that includes me. My mother is my saviour my voice of reason, my friend and I love her dearly. She is crazy though, seven years ago she jumped out of a perfectly good aeroplane for charity, now that is crazy!
Hot Crossed Buns
500g Plain flour
60g caster sugar
7g yeast (one sachet)
1 tsp salt
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/2tsp ground nutmeg
150ml lukewarm milk
75ml lukewarm water
1 beaten egg
60g chopped mixed peel
Sunflower oil for greasing
60g short crust pastry
1. Empty your yeast into a small bowl, add a teaspoon of the sugar and a tbsp of the water, mix well and leave to stand, next sift the flour into a large bowl, then gently stir in the sugar, salt and the spices. Now make a well in the middle and pour in all the wet ingredients, the fruit and the yeast. Using a knife mix gently into a soft ball.
2. On a floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and form into a nice elastic round.
3. Lightly oil a bowl and place your dough into it, cover with lightly oiled cling film and leave in a warm place to rise, until doubled in size. It should take about an hour to an hour and a half, but I have found this is not an exact science, sometimes it could raise quicker and other times slower. (once I left it too long and it started to collapse).
4. When it has risen, punch down in the centre of the dough, and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, knead again for 2 or 3 minutes so it is smooth and elastic, you should then be able to make about a dozen balls of dough.
5. Roll out your pastry so it has a 5mm thickness, using a sharp knife, cut 24 narrow strips, 2 for each bun, then using a little water secure them into a cross on top of the bun.
6. Lightly oil two baking trays, and place your buns on them with plenty of space between each one, they are going to double in size, it doesn’t matter if they are just touching once they have risen but you don’t want to squish them together. Cover with cling film and once again place somewhere warm to rise, they should have doubled.
7. Preheat your oven to 220˚C/425˚F and then bake your buns for 15 mins, they should be well risen and browned on top.
8. Meanwhile make the glaze by placing all the glaze ingredients into a small saucepan, and heat, until all the sugar is dissolved. Once the buns are properly baked remove them from the oven and put them onto a wire rack, whilst they are still hot brush the glaze over them and then allow to cool.