6 April 2007

Hot Cross Buns: Easter for Two

I've never celebrated Easter before I came here. I got all my impression of Easter through many old American kid's movies. It mainly includes colourful eggs and cute little bunnies. I spent my first Easter here in Sydney, travelling with an American exchange students, hurrying to experience as much as we can of the city. We even went to the St Mary's on the Easter Sunday, and stayed for the whole mass. It was good to see the ray of sunshine coming through the stained glass windows but I'd have to say that's pretty much all I like about religious gatherings.

I spent the second Easter here hunting for chocolate eggs in the yard of my college. It was fun, during the game. But as soon as it finished, I felt even more lonely and left out. So what went back to my room and did my spectroscopy assignment.

This Easter, I've got this boyfriend who havr planned us a trip to Sydney. We're gonna stay at this apartment next to the Darling Harbour. We're gonna go to Bills for breakfast. And we're gonna go to the Easter Show, which - although sounds a bit silly - will be a lot of fun.

The boyfriend loves Easter. Hot cross buns the best. He started buying them for morning tea as soon as they showed up in the bakery's shelves a month before Easter. He was so excited to hear that I'll try baking them that he even told his folks. So when I was really getting ready to start this morning, he was smart enough to know to disappear for a couple of hours to give me some undisturbed baking time.

I have never baked bread before. The kind that you have to use some sort of yeast. When decided that I'm gonna do this, I really just wanted to see his happy face when he smells the fresh bread from the oven. It's such a simple and joyous moment in life.

The buns turned out alright. Not as bread-tasting as I thought. A bit denser. It could be that I didn't leave the dough to rise long enough, as I was in such a rush to see the end result. It was alright. The boyfriend liked it a lot though. But who knows if he was just saying this to comfort me. But then again, who cares. I've got a man who can appreciate my effort. What more can a gal ask for?

Hot Cross Buns

Adapted from Australian Table April 2007

4 cups plain flour
1 tsp mixed spice (I don't have it. So I mixed a tsp of cinnamon and about 1/8 tsp of nutmeg)
1 tsp salt
60g butter
1/2 cup castor sugar
1 x 7g sachet dried yeast
1/2 cup sultanas or currants (I used sultana)
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup lukewarm milk, plus extra to glaze
1 egg, lightly beaten

1/4 cup water
1/3 cup self raising flour

Sticky Glaze
2 tbsp warm water
1 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp gelatine

1. Sift plain flour, mixed spice, and salt into a bowl. Rub in butter using fingertips, just until mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in sugar, yeast and sultanas or currants.

2. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Stir in warm warter, milk and egg, gradually incorporating flour mixture until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead dough until smooth and elastic. Shape gently into a ball and place in a greased bowl. Turn over once so top of dough is greased.

3. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and a tea towel. Set aside to rise in a warm place for 1 - 1.5 hours, until double in size.

4. Lightly grease a baking tray, two 20 cm cake pans or a larger round cake pan. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently pat out to 3cm thick. Cut into 14 pieces and gently shape each into a ball, keeping tops smooth as you shape. Place on prepared tray or pans. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and a tea towel and set aside to rise in a warm place for 20-30 minutes, until double again.

5. Preheat oven to 200 C. Brush buns with extra milk or a beaten egg. Combine self-raising flour and water in a small bowl and mix until smooth. Spoon into a plastic bag, snip corner off and pipe crosses on buns.

6. Bake buns for 15 minutes, until golden brown. Meanwhile, to make sticky glaze, stir together warm water, sugar and gelatine, until sugar dissolves. Brush hot buns with glaze and stand near open, turn-off oven for a few minutes, until the glaze dries. Serve warm or toasted.

Happy Easter!

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