Hot Cross Buns (& Easter Traditions)

my beautiful Aunty Pam as a girl, circa 1940

I miss Easter in Australia. I really do! It is one of my favourite times of year. The Autumn coming and the smell of burnt leaves, or something (do people even burn leaves in Australia? I think maybe not, but you know that burnt smell, right?). And a 4-day holiday, which involves food and going down south, and relaxing, and chocolate (of course the chocolate!). 

I guess much like Thanksgiving here in the States, but I am not as familiar with the traditions, they're not ingrained in me even though they are there. They're a funny thing, traditions - I am not a religious person at all, and yet I follow my family's traditions over Easter, and miss them if I don't. We always have Hot Cross Buns on Good Friday, (and Saturday, Sunday & Monday unless they have already been totally devoured by then!), and always have a fish meal. My Grandma would turn in her grave if I ate red meat on Good Friday, - although I never knew her as a particularly religious person either, - it was just the proper thing to do. (Or maybe she was religious, I don't know - we definitely had to say our prayers every night and learn the Lord's Prayer by rote with her. But, she never went to church..). My friends used to laugh at me when I was younger, - I remember going to a burger joint on one Good Friday and I had to change my hamburger order to a fish burger, just so I felt right. (Lucky I remembered last second, and saved myself!).

Why do we get so attached to these things? Especially when the traditions are of a religious nature, and we may not be religious? I don't think it even matters. I think, as much as I like change and adventure, I also love tradition and nostalgia - they ground me and remind me of my family. I wonder, when I am older if I will have made any of my own traditions? Right now, I don't see any - but I am sure there are some, already planted and just sprouting.

Until then, I will make some Hot Cross Buns (sans icing, - as much as I love icing, for me they should be plain!), and think about a fish dish for Friday, perhaps a lamb roast and a chocolate Humpty Dumpty egg - or something chocolatey - for Sunday .. (I can't seem to find these, - am I imagining them?)..

I don't have a family recipe for Hot Cross Buns, so had to find one.. sorry family! But, I am sure they were made much like this! 

No icing, lots of butter - that's our tradition!

What are your favourite family traditions? 

Hot Cross Buns


2 tsp dried instant yeast
500g plain four
90g sugar
300ml milk
1tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp ground all spice
¼ tsp fresh grated nutmeg
60g butter
1 large egg 
140g sultanas (or a mix of currants, sultanas and raisins)
30g mixed peel (optional)

Note: Remember, with all spices ‘more or less’ is up to you. You might also want to add ginger, ground cloves or star anis in a ratio to suit your tastes.

2 Tbs self raising flour
2 Tbs cold water

4 Tbs of sugar 
¼ tsp cinnamon 
150m boiling water

~ Sift flour, spices, salt and yeast
~ Gently heat the milk over a low temperature and melt the butter into it.
~ In a separate bowl beat the egg
~ Add the milk & butter mixture to the flour and mix thoroughly. Add the egg and mix well to form a dough.
~ Work in the dried fruit and peel.
~ Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it feels smooth and is no longer sticky (approx. 10mins).
~ Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover and place in a warm spot to prove.
~ Leave for an hour or until doubled in size.

~ Punch the dough down and then separate it into 12 equal portions.
~ Place the buns close together on a lightly greased baking tray.
~ Cover and allow to rise until doubled in size and very light (approx another hour).

For the crosses:

~Mix the flour and water thoroughly to form a thick paste.
~ Spoon into a zip-lock bag, cut a little hole out of the corner of the bag and use it to pipe the mixture in crosses on top of the buns.

~ Bake the topped buns at 220°c/430°f for 15-20mins.

For the glaze:

~ Mix together all ingredients, dissolving the sugar in the boiling water
~ Brush over the buns lightly while still hot.

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