Hot Cross Buns are an age old recipe traditionally eaten at Easter in Great Britain, where an old law permits their sale only at Easter and Christmas. They are now eaten in many parts of the world. They are basically a spicy, glazed, currant bun with a pastry cross piped on the top... Not strictly pastry, it's often, simply flour and milk made into a firm batter so that you can pipe a cross shape.
Hot Cross Buns, however, don't seem to be available in this part of France, indeed I suspect they are not available in any part of France as the French people I have talked to didn't know about them. Now I'm usually happy to adopt my French life and go without whatever is not available, except, that this year I have been invited out to lunch on Easter Sunday and thought, "wouldn't it be nice to take a traditional British thing with me"... So, none available in the shops, I decided I would simply make some.
Well, that was my first error. There is nothing simple about making Hot Cross Buns. If you have the choice between making them yourselves, or buying them from a bakery, choose the bakery! I have spent the entire afternoon baking about a dozen hot cross buns.
First I had to find a recipe. As usual, I turned to the Internet.
There was a recipe with a beautiful photo on a site from a British magazine called Woman's Weekly. Woman's Weekly launched in November 1911 and is still being published today. It does what the title says, a weekly magazine for women and cookery has always been a strong part of it's subject matter so I thought they could probably be relied on to give me a good traditional recipe. And they did!
Next I assembled all the various ingredients, , nothing very unusual, flour, sugar, spices, milk, an egg, bakers yeast, all of which I had in my cupboard.
Then to start making the buns. First start the yeast in a milk and sugar solution.
As soon as that was happily going I mixed the flour, sugar and spices and and then added the yeast mixture and the beaten egg, formed all this into a dough and left it to raise for an hour and a half.
Next I added the cross that gives them their name, then off to the oven.
As they were baking, I started to get the idea that I had chosen well and the recipe was going to be delicious. The smell from the oven was mouth watering....
The recipe called for the hot buns to be glazed as soon as they came out of the oven which is what I did next.
So, several hours after deciding, I have about 16 Hot Cross Buns. They look and smell great and I'm struggling to wait till they are cool to try the first one.
For the full recipe, go to the Woman's Weekly Hot Cross Bun recipe
Things I did differently:
I varied the recipe a little. I made my own mix of spices using Ground Nutmeg, Ground Ginger, Ground Cloves, Ground Cinnamon, Ground Mace, 1/2 tsp of each and then added another tea spoon of Ground Cinnamon. I mixed strong white flour (300gms) and wholemeal flour (200gms) and I substituted whatever fine brown sugar I had in the cupboard.
And yes, having succumbed to temptation, they were delicious.