American Easter [in the lead up] and my recipe for Australian Hot Cross Buns

American’s are crazy about holidays. You can buy greeting cards in this country for holidays that I didn’t even knew exist, or at least I didn’t think were worthy of greeting cards. I mean, really, people send greeting cards for St Patricks Day?

So American has Christmas, obviously. They also have Thanksgiving, which is more widely celebrated here than Christmas, due to it’s non-religious nature. Thanksgiving is like the Australian Christmas – you spend a day gorging yourself, and then the next day you head out at ungodly hours to hit the sales. In American they call this Black Friday (since Thanksgiving is always on a Thursday). In Australia, we call it Boxing Day.

Now, I see America as a fairly ‘Christian’ country. I understand that there are some very ‘Christian’ parts, and some not-so ‘Christian’ parts, but I mean, in the Pledge of Allegience they say “one nation under God”. Anyway, so I see America to be a fairly Christian country. I mean, Australia, I guess, is a fairly Christian country. And, as such, Australia acknowleges the most significant event in the Christian calendar – the death and ressurection of Jesus, by giving everyone not one, but two extra days off. Yes, the moral of the story here, is that America is ripping people off on their public holidays. PEOPLE IN AMERICA WORK ON GOOD FRIDAY! (For those of you who aren’t aware, Good Friday in Australia is the one day that even most McDonalds’ are closed until 1pm. NOTHING IS OPEN.)

America is also ripping off it’s children (and adults, for that matter) in the way of CHOCOLATE. Attention anyone who is even the slightest bit attached to Red Tulip Bunnies or those cardboard cartons of Cadbury easter eggs wrapped in the coloured foil: do not come to America at Easter time. Easter is not a ‘chocolate holiday’ here. It seems (from what I have been told, and what I have seen in every store I’ve set foot in for the last 4 weeks) that Americans celebrate easter with a strange mix of plastic eggs filled with assorted candies, toys, tattoos (and anything else that appeals to a child that you can fit into a 6cm long plastic egg), Easter baskets filled with toys and candies, with fake grass (made out of paper or plastic, depending on how much money you want to spend) padding out the bottom, and jellybeans (which my Host Dad proposed symbolise rabbit poops…) And don’t get me started on the lack of real Hot Cross Buns.

So anyway, the moral of the story is, I am severely depressed because my easter will be lacking in Red Tulip Bunnies this year (although I still have fond memories of the 2 I received last year) and I am dying without Bakers Delight Hot Cross Buns, so today, I got Miss 3 into the kitchen (she loves to bake) and we whipped up a batch of Hot Cross Buns.

I know a lot of the Aussie Au Pairs have been trying to find a good recipe, and I managed to make some pretty good  ones by mixing up a few recipes, which I am going to share below 🙂 Some people are scared of using yeast, but if you follow the instuctions then you shouldn’t have too many problems!

Cyndi’s Hot Cross Buns

1 sachet yeast (2 1/4 – 2 1/2 teaspoons)
1 teaspoon sugar
310ml warm water

3 1/2 cups plain white flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup raisins
1 teaspoon salt
2-3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
2 tablespoons butter/margarine, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup plain white flour
1 tablespoon sugar
50-80ml water

2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons white sugar

1. Put 310ml warm water in a measuring jug/bowl etc.Read the back of the yeast packet, it will tell you what temperature to use. Above 140F and you will kill the yeast. Below 80F and it won’t work. I think you are supposed to use water that is around 110F, but check the yeast packet. Put the sugar into the water and mix. Then sprinkle the yeast on, and mix. The yeast should froth a little bit. Leave it for 5-10 minutes.

2. Put all the dry ingredients from the 2nd list into a large bowl (flour, sugar, spices, salt). You can either mix it with a wooden spoon and then by hand, or you can use a mixmaster with 1 or 2 bread/dough hooks (that’s what i used). When the yeast has been sitting for 5-10 minutes and it a little bit frothy, make a well in the dry ingredients and pour it in. Add the melted butter and egg, and mix.

3. When the dough comes together use clean hands to finish kneeding it into a smooth dough. Put the dough into a large greased metal bowl (you can use butter, or I used Pam spray) and cover it with glad wrap. Put it in a warm place and leave it for 30-60 minutes, it should double in size.

Dough Rising

4. When it has doubled in size, turn the oven on to 390F (200C). Remove the glad wrap and punch the dough down to get the air bubbles out of it. Then put it onto a lightly floured surface (I used a piece of baking paper with a little bit of flour on it) and knead it until smooth. Divide evenly into 12 portions.

Miss 3's favourite part, punching and kneading the dough!

5. Line an oven tray with a piece of baking (parchment) paper and arange the buns in 4 rows of 3, making sure they are touching each other.

Miss 3 arranging the buns on the tray

6. To make the crosses, mix flour, sugar and water together in a bowl (I used a whisk to avoid it getting lumpy) and then put this mixture into a ziplock bag. The recipe I used said to use 80ml of water to 1/2 cup flour, but this was too runny and the crosses spread as they cooked, and I’d suggest only using about 50ml water. Cut the corner off the bag (a small hole) and pipe the crosses on the buns.

Buns ready for the oven, post-crossing. The paste was a little runny.

7. Bake for 10 minutes at 390F/200C and then turn the oven down to 320F/160C and continue baking for 20 more minutes.

8. After you have taken the buns out of the oven, let them cool slightly and then move them onto a wire rack. To make the glaze, put the sugar and water into a small saucepan, and bring to the boil. Make sure you mix it otherwise the sugar won’t melt and may stick to the bottom. When it’s boiling, turn it down to medium and simmer until it thickens (think like if you were making toffee for toffee apples). When it has thickened, use a pastry brush to brush it over the cooked buns.

Ready to eat! Out of the oven and glazed!

9. Serve warm or at room temperature, with or without butter!

Notes: I have upped the amount of spices from the original recipe. This recipe should give you a good amount of spice, but if you like more cinnamon go ahead and add more. You can also add different types of fruit, like currants or mixed peel. (Also, if you are making this in Australia, you can sultanas rather than raisins).

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This entry was posted in Au Pairing, Baking, Holidays, Photos, Recipes, USA 2011/2012 and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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