It won’t happen to see you in the surroundings at 7.30 am, but if it happens, and you meet a girl with gray Notting Hill sweatshirt, a cap pulled down over her head,n a mp3 player into her ears and a smiling face, well, that’s me, is neither a sad imitation of Rocky nor a walking unleashed mad singer humming Abba, Bon Jovi, Bruce Springsteen … that’s just me, catched by a spring delirious. Since the diet does not work, in fact, I decided to give a shock to my metabolism doing a fast walk (I like to call it power walk, isn’t it more stylish?) every morning (ah ah ah ah ah every ah ah ah ah ah! sleep, rain, fog and schedules permitting!).
All of this, because as every year, I’m catched again by this spring delirium, which makes me willing to improve what can be improved, to move and to live closer to nature. As for example, yesterday morning I met, in order, a pheasant, a hare and four fawns, but who am I? Snow White? no, it’s just that those things happen when you go walking in the countryside in the morning, it’s an experience that leaves a good feeling all day.
On the basis of this new spring thrust, I leave you for a few days with an Easter cake, typical of the English tradition, which smacks of morning sun and holidays: they are the hot cross buns.
Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One ha’ penny, two ha’ penny,
Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons
One ha’ penny,
Two ha’ penny,
Hot Cross Buns!
The hot cross buns are typical of the Easter period, specifically of Good Friday. The cross drawn on the bun recalls the crucifixion even if there is someone who thinks they have pre-Christian origins and says that they were eaten in honor of the Saxon goddess Eostre (whose name closely resembles the English word for Easter). In this case the cross would symbolize the four quarters of the moon.
There are also many superstitions related to Hot Cross Buns, like the one that says that the buns served on Good Friday will not spoil or become mouldy during the subsequent year. This recipe comes from Donna Hay Modern Classics Volume 2, with slight variations. I replaced the raisins with cranberries – I had them in my cupboard, and this has proved to be a very good choice – and I’ve added grated lemon peel instead of candied citrus, a good solution to give freshness to the buns. Candied lemon peel is an American influence, since the original English recipe calls only only raisins.
Ingredients for Hot Cross Buns:
- fresh brewer’s yeast, 1 cube – 25gr
- sugar, 110 gr
- warm milk, 375 ml
- sifted flour, 570 gr
- sweet mixed spices, 2 tablespoons (cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, cloves)
- powdered cinnamon, 2 tablespoons
- melted butter, 50 gr
- egg, 1
- dried cranberries, 250 gr
- grated peel of 1 lemon
- more flour, 70 gr
- water, 80 ml
Ingredients for icing:
- caster sugar, 110 gr
- water, 60 ml
- gelatine, 1 sheet, previously soaked into cold water and squeezed
Put yeast in a bowl, add milk and 2 tablespoons of sugar and keep aside for 5 minutes. It’s active when it becomes frothy. Fold in flour, spices, cinnamon, butter and sugar. Mix with a knife until it forms a sticky dough. Knead with your hands on a floured work surface for 8 minutes or until it is elastic. Put in a bowl greased with olive oil, cover with a cloth and let rest in a warm place for an hour until doubled in volume.
Now divide the dough into 12 parts and form balls. Butter a 23 cm square mold and line with parchment paper. Place buns into the mold, cover them again with a cloth and let them rise again in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 200°C. Mix flour with water, put the mixture into a pastry bag or a cone of baking paper and draw crosses on the buns. Cook for 35 minutes or until they are golden and springy. Brush with icing.
For the icing. Heat sugar in a saucepan with water, stir until the sugar dissolves and combine gelatin. Let it melt and cook for one minute. Let it cool. Brush the bun with the icing until they are warm and allow to cool.
Tasting proof. They’re excellent the same day they are baked, but they are so good either the next day and the day after. A special breakfast on Good Friday but perfect for any other happy day, with a little butter spread over it and lots of jam, a cup of steaming black tea and maybe a book, why not!?