It's just after lunchtime on Good Friday and a blue-sky perfect Autumn day. It's a lazy one at our place, just short of a pyjama day and we're planning to take a walk by the lake this afternoon. We skipped breakfast, choosing instead to wait until the hot cross Easter buns came out of the oven and enjoy them for brunch, fresh from the oven, with a macchiato.
My mother had always taught me to work with fresh yeast and I can still remember when packets of dry yeast became readily available. Funnily enough, fresh yeast is harder to find nowadays. So, today I pulled out an old Tandaco Dry Yeast recipe that I had cut out from a magazine a couple of decades ago and adapted it to suit our tastes and the ingredients at hand in the larder.
HOT CROSS EASTER BUNS
5 cups (750g) plain flour
1 scant teaspoon salt
3 scant tablespoons vanilla infused caster sugar
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon mixed spice
14g dried yeast
1 cup mixed dried fruit: raisins, sultanas and citrus peel
400ml lukewarm milk
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
1 egg, lightly whisked
For the crosses:
a paste of flour, water and sugar OR
a small piece of shortcrust pastry cut into thin strips
For the glaze:
1/2 cup maple syrup, warmed
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a kitchen mixer and make a small well in the centre. Whisk together the milk, melted butter and egg. Add to the dry ingredients and, using the dough hook attachment, mix to a soft dough. Knead for two minutes. If the dough feels too dry, add just a little extra milk.
Cover the bowl with a clean tea towel and place in a warm place, free from draughts, for an hour or so until the dough has doubled in size.
Punch down the dough and place it onto a lightly floured bench, knead it into shape. With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 16 portions and roll each one into a neat ball-shaped buns. Place the buns onto a baking sheet lined with baking paper, cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm spot for a further 20-30 minutes until the buns have doubled in size.
Place or pipe the crosses over the top of the buns and bake in a preheated oven at 200 degrees C for 20 minutes until they are golden brown and sound hollow when gently tapped. Brush with warmed maple syrup cinnamon glaze and serve immediately.
Makes 16, which is plenty for you and your neighbours!
How are spending your Easter weekend? What good things are you baking? Do you prefer to use fresh yeast or dried?
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.