Easter Buns and “Peace-ter” Buns

It’s hard to ignore the tantalizing aroma of hot cross buns being baked all over town, all across the country for that matter – that wonderful combination of yeast and spice on the breeze that leads us into local bakeries and cafes, supermarkets even.

While there is nothing wrong with buying them, they are so easy to make that it’s a shame not to give it a try.  Your whole house will smell amazing!  I made a batch last night, two in fact as I couldn’t resist making another this morning, plus I had an order for some.

The recipe to follow is the one I put together last night.

But where do the “Peace-ter buns” come into it? Well, in our increasingly multi-cultural society, there are some who perhaps do not celebrate Easter as we might.  Just in case and to cover all bases and preferences, instead of the characteristic cross on top of the bun, I piped the international symbol for peace on one or two.

I haven’t included mixed peel in this recipe, though you could add about ½ cup if you wanted (add with the sultanas).  Many children, like mine over the years, detested it, so I add the rind of a lemon and orange to give the citrus flavor without the texture they disliked so much.

The reason the sultanas are soaked in hot water is that they then remain moist in the bun, and in turn the bun doesn’t dry out so quickly.

For the buns

500g plain flour

5 teaspoons dried yeast

1 teaspoon salt

Grated rind one lemon

3 teaspoons grated orange rind

2 teaspoons mixed spice

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

½ cup sugar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

½ teaspoon natural lemon essence, optional

60g butter, melted

1 cup warm milk, approximately

250g sultanas

For the piping

2 rounded tablespoons self raising flour

2 tablespoons water, approximately

For the glaze

½ cup sugar

One third cup water, approximately

1½ teaspoons powdered gelatine

½ teaspoon cinnamon

To make the buns, mix together the dry ingredients, rinds and spices, then make a well in the centre.  Pour the eggs, essence, butter and milk into this and mix all to a soft dough, adding a little extra warm milk or water if necessary.

Cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until doubled.

Meanwhile, place the sultanas in a separate bowl and pour over 1 cup of hot water.  Leave to stand while bun dough is rising.

When the dough is doubled, turn out onto a lightly floured surface and sprinkle with a little flour.  Drain the water off the sultanas and then turn out into a tea towel to dry them off any excess liquid.

Press the dough out to a rectangle approximately 25cm x 35cm.  Sprinkle about one third of the sultanas down the middle, covering about one third, then fold over one third of the rest of the dough.  Sprinkle this piece with more sultanas, fold in the other side and do the same.  The purpose of this is to incorporate the sultanas into the dough.  It may seem like rather a lot, but remember that the buns will rise and so in the finished product there is just the right amount.

Knead the dough briefly to incorporate the sultanas fully.  Cut the dough into 12 pieces, then roll each piece into a bun.  Place side by side on a baking tray that has been greased and lined with baking paper.  Allow to rise until almost doubled (about 30 minutes).

Make a paste of the self raising flour and water, then pour into a piping bag or a plastic bag that has a corner snipped out.  Pipe in the lines to make crosses (or the peace symbol).

Bake at 200 degrees C for 10 minutes then reduce heat and bake at 180 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes more until golden and cooked through (they will spring back when lightly touched if they are cooked).

To make the glaze, place all ingredients in a small pot and bring to the boil, stirring.  Simmer 2 minutes then remove from heat.  Brush over the hot buns.

Serve warm with butter.