Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Mom's Hot Cross Buns

Last year, I made my mother's Hot Cross Bun recipe for the first time, and I'm ashamed to say that they came out hard, almost like hockey pucks.

So this year I resolved that I would follow the recipe more closely, even taking time to sift the flour, and then use the scoop-and-level method of measuring it...
Well, lo and behold it really worked well! These were light and fluffy, just like I'd remembered when my mother made them. As one who has been cooking now for more than 30 years (I started when I was very young), I should know by now that sifting flour can really make a difference.

Another comment I could make about this recipe, which I made for our dinner on the day we celebrated our Lord's Resurrection, is that I think this recipe originally came from my maternal grandmother, who immigrated from Denmark with her family when she was seven years old. So she was old enough in the "old country" to remember Danish traditions, at least one of which involved these Hot Cross Buns.

As I remember Grandma telling us one year, the children in her village would take willow branches and wrap them with colored crepe paper, shaping them like a shepherd's crook. Then, they would knock on the doors of friends and neighbors and shout something like "Fah-stah-lahton rays" (written phonetically as well as I can remember it). Basically, it was like our modern-day traditional of trick-or-treating, but Grandma told us that they never did any tricks to anyone. They probably knew which houses would have hot cross buns to share with them, and wouldn't go there unless they knew they would be welcome.

I still miss my maternal grandmother. Actually, I miss all of my grandparents, but I'm so thankful that there are recipes and stories to help me to remember.


1 cup milk, scalded
2 Tbsp. shortening
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 pkg. rapid-rise yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1 egg, well-beaten
3-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2/3 cup currants

Combine scalded milk, shortening, sugar, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Cool to lukewarm. Soften yeast in lukewarm water and add to lukewarm milk mixture. Add egg. Then gradually stir in flour to make a soft dough. Add currants and mix to distribute evenly. Place dough in large greased bowl; cover; put in warm place to rise until double in size.

Form dough into small buns, flatten slightly and place about 2 inches apart on greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until double in size. Just before baking, cut a cross into the top of each bun with a sharp knife or kitchen scissors. Bake 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

A minute before the buns are done baking, brush top of buns with milk, sprinkle a little sugar and return to oven to glaze. After cooling, fill cross on top of each bun with confectioner's icing.

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