One a penny, two a penny…

Spicy Hot Cross Bun with Cheddar

It’s not Easter yet, but sometimes a Hot Cross Bun – toasted, buttered and layered with mature cheddar – can be a girls’ (second) best friend. Today was just one of those days. 

For most people, Hot Cross Buns have got a biblical connotation. For me, the Hindu-Agnostic Girl at the very Catholic school, they didn’t bear quite the same meaning. My deepest thought surrounding this time pertained to the nursery Rhyme that chimed “if you have no daughters, give them to your sons”. Baring the ever-competitive spirit of young lion cub and having a brother myself, I was just chuft to know that I would get first preference. 

Truth be told, I have never made my own buns, but I do find the Extra Spicy variety from “The Mothership”  (Woolworths) to hit the spot perfectly! I love the way the sultanas, spice and cheese mingle on the tongue to produce this sweet-savoury flavour, which is my favourite! 

I’m still tucking into Neil Roake’s book, Happy Shiny People, which actually does have a recipe for this childhood treat. Roake’s book does not unfold in a series of courses, but is rather told through the voices of his friends that he has shared moments and meals with. I think I’ve enjoyed this book so very much because  he experiences food in a similar way to myself – as the sensory element that connects people. 

So here is Camilla’s recipe for Hot Cross Buns told to me by Neil Roake. 

For the buns:
1½ cups (375ml) milk
1½ cups buttermilk
1½ cups sugar

¾ cup (180ml) water
200g butter
3 eggs (organic, if you dare)
9 cups (1¼L) cake flour
6t mixed spice
2t salt
1 cup (250ml) sultanas
2 cups (500ml) raisins
zest of 2 oranges
zest of 1 lemon
2pkts (20g) yeast

For the crosses
1pkt puff pastry, defrosted, but cool

For the glaze
mix 1 cup (250ml) sugar with a little cold water to make a sugary paste

Heat the milk, buttermilk, water, sugar, zest and butter over a medium heat until the butter has melted. Set aside to cool until luke warm. Beat in the eggs. Sift the flour, mixed spice and salt into a bowl and add the sultanas and raisins. Sprinkled the yeast over the top. Add the milk mixture and mix until it comes together to form a dough. Leave to rise over night. Knead on a floured surface until the dough is smooth. Divide into two and keep dividing until you have 36 pieces. Roll and shape and place on a greased baking sheet. Roll out puff pastry lightly on a floured surface and cut into strips – these will become the crosses. Brush the buns with water and lay the crosses over the buns tucking in the ends on the side of the bun. Preheat oven to 160˚C, and mix  together the ingredients for the glaze. Bake the buns for 15 – 20 minutes. Turn the over up to 180˚C. Remove the buns an brush with the sugary glase and return to the oven for a further 15 – 20 minutes until the crust is hard and sugary.

Makes 3 dozen


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