Handmade Irish Crafts and Treats

Monday, April 6, 2009

Irish Easter Traditions - Handmade Hot Cross Buns

A little Piece of Easter Traditions in Ireland brought to you by lovelambie - Your one stop shop for - Handmade Funky Irish crafts, Handmade Irish knitted items, Handmade gifts for St Patricks day, Springtime and Easter, Blarney, Shamrocks, Luck of the irish, Handmade Irish cooking, Handmade Irish Cakes, Handmade Irish jewellery, Genuine Handmade Irish gifts for a modern world.

For me, one of the unmissable parts of the Irish Easter Tradition is the making of (and eating) homemade hot cross buns. For those who arent familiar with the notion, hot cross buns are soft, doughy spiced buns made with mixed fruit and topped with a dough cross. As part of a (lets be frank, Irish Catholic) Easter celebration they are eaten toasted with a little butter (or just plain) throughout the easter period, in particular on Good Friday.

The symbolism of the cross on the top of the bun, in Christian countries, is of the cross and the cruxifiction, and they are eaten on Good Friday as a rememberence of this. Some say that the idea of eating small crossed cakes dates back to pagan roots, when Saxons ate them to celebrate the moon goddess Eostre.

Make your own hot cross buns using our simple recipe below! Yum!

Irish Easter Traditions - Handmade Hot Cross Bun Recipe (Make your own!)

Use our simple recipe below for making your own scrumptious handmade irish hot cross buns just in time for Easter Sunday:

You will need the following ingredients:

For the Dough:
15g/½oz fresh yeast
1 tsp sugar
55g/2oz strong white flour
1 beaten large free-range egg
215ml/7½fl oz warm water
450g/1lb strong white flour (and a bit for dusting)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground mixed spice
85g/3oz unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
85g/3oz sugar
1 zest of a lemon
170g/6oz mixed dried fruit

For the "hot cross" topping
2 tbsp plain flour
vegetable oil, for greasing
1 tbsp golden syrup, gently heated, for glazing

Now for the Making!
1. Mix the beaten egg with enough warm water to make up approximately 290ml/½ pint of liquid.
2. Whisk in the yeast, sugar and flour until the mixture is smooth and well combined, then cover and set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes.
3. Sieve the flour, salt and ground mixed spice into a large mixing bowl, then rub in the butter using your fingertips. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, then add the sugar and lemon zest to the well and pour in the ferment starter.
4. With your hands, gradually draw the flour at the edges of the bowl into the well in the centre, mixing well with the ferment starter, until the mixture comes together as a dough.
5. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly until smooth and elastic.
6. Carefully work the mixed dried fruit into the dough until well combined.
7. Grease a large, warm mixing bowl with butter. Shape the dough into a ball and place it into the prepared bowl, then cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for one hour to prove.
8. Turn out the proved dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knock back the dough. Shape it into a ball again and return it to the bowl, then cover again with the tea towel and set aside for a further 30 minutes to rise.
9. Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten slightly into a bun shape using the palms of your hands. Cover the buns again with the tea towel and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes.
10. Grease a baking tray with butter and transfer the buns to the tray. Cut a cross in each bun, almost cutting all the way through the dough, so that each bun is almost cut into quarters.
11. Wrap the tray with the buns on it loosely in greaseproof paper, then place inside a large polythene bag. Tie the end of the bag tightly so that no air can get in and set aside in a warm place for a further 40 minutes to rise.
12. Preheat the oven to 240C/475F/Gas 8.
13. Meanwhile, for the topping, mix the plain flour to a smooth paste with two tablespoons of cold water.
14. When the buns have risen, remove the polythene bag and the greaseproof paper. Spoon the flour mixture into a piping bag and pipe a cross over the cuts in each bun.
15. Transfer the buns to the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until risen and pale golden-brown. As soon as you remove the buns from the oven, brush them with the hot golden syrup, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.

Voila! Gorgeous Hot cross buns ready just in time for Easter - these would make a perfect easter gift for someone special.