Hot Cross Buns for Easter

Happy Good Friday to you!  Lent is almost over (we should all have given up pandemics…) and the resurrection is upon us, so time for a warming, homey, traditional holiday recipe.  Hot cross buns are typically British.  A wonderful nautical bit of lore: The Widow’s Son pub in Bromley-by-Bow had a Royal Navy sailor hang one in a net above the bar every year for hundreds of years, carrying on the tradition of the original widow who lived on the site and hung one each year waiting for her seafaring son to come home.  I used my standby Parker House rolls recipe from Joy of Cooking, but may have overheated the dough on the first rising because they turned out a bit denser and chewier than normal.  Call them Hot Cross Bagels, in solidarity between London and New York this difficult Easter.  Still delicious!

Hot Cross Buns

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1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup currants or raisins
2 tablespoons fine lemon zest
2 tablespoons butter
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons hot water
1 egg
2-2/3 cups flour

This is why they are delicious…combine the sugar, spices, fruit and butter…and then  add  warm milk and yeast and tell me there is anything that reminds you more of mom!

Scald the milk, then add to the fruit and spice mixture and stir until sugar and butter are dissolved.  Sprinkle the yeast over hot water and swirl to submerge all the yeast particles.

Add milk mixture to yeast when it has cooled to lukewarm.  Beat in the egg.

Stir and knead in the flour until the dough pulls away from the bowl into a ball, but is still a bit sticky.

Place in a greased bowl and brush the top with melted butter.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, probably about 90 minutes.  (Maybe not quite as warm as the back of a stove going full-tilt making Eggs Sardou!)

Shape into 18 balls (okay I only made 14) and place in rows on greased baking sheet.

Cover and let rise again until doubled in bulk or they fill your cookie sheet!  This rising will take about half the time of the first. Bake at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes until golden brown.

Let the buns cool completely, then decorate with the traditional cross made from 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 2 teaspoons hot milk, and 1/4 teaspoon vanilla.  This can be piped on using a small baggie with the corner cut out.

Count your blessings as the bayou offers you an Easter bouquet of wild lilies and iris.  Happy Easter, Scallywags.

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