hot cross buns
Photo by Omafan

By Tom Reynolds

Easter is the perfect time to indulge in delicious sweet treats, from sticky hot cross buns to smooth, velvety chocolate eggs. If you fancy doing a little baking over the Easter period, here are two of our favourite British Easter recipes to try out at home.

Hot Cross buns are usually served with warm butter on Good Friday

Hot cross buns

One a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns! We all know the rhyme but did you know that hot cross buns were originally eaten by the Saxons? Yes, they believed that eating hot cross buns was a way of honouring their goddess Eostre. The round shape of the buns symbolised the moon, which was divided into its quarters by the cross on top. Today it is customary to eat hot cross buns on Good Friday, as for Christians, the cross on the buns symbolises the crucifixion.

Ingredients to make twelve buns:

·       500g strong white bread flour

·       55g muscovado sugar

·       100g mixed dried fruits

·       25g candied mixed peel

·       7g dried yeast

·       1 tsp. salt

·       2 tsp. mixed spices

·       1 tsp. ground cinnamon

·       2 oz. butter (cut into little pieces)

·       300ml warm milk

To make the crosses:

·       75g plain flour

·       1 ½ oz. cold butter (cut into pieces)

To make the glaze:

1 ½ tbsp. warm apricot jam

First you will need to mix together the bread flour, sugar, salt and mixed spices. Next add the butter pieces, rubbing them into the flour, until the mixture looks a little like sand. You will then need to stir in the dried fruits and the mixed peel. Sprinkle over the yeast and pour in the warm milk, using a spatula to mix the ingredients together until they turn into a sticky dough mixture.

Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for around ten minutes. The dough will have a smooth texture once it has been kneaded for long enough. You will then need to place it in a large, lightly oiled bowl, covering it with a clean tea towel, before leaving it to rise in a warm place. Your dough should take around two hours to rise.

Whilst you are waiting for your dough to rise, preheat your oven to 425°F / 220°C / Gas mark 7 and begin making your crosses. To make your crosses you will need to rub together the butter and the flour, adding half a table spoon of cold water. Stir the mixture until it makes a thick doughy mixture. Roll the mixture into a ball and then section off twelve pieces. Place them in the fridge for at least thirty minutes.

Once your dough balls have hardened in the fridge, roll them into long thin sausage shapes and then split them in half to make each part of the cross. Firmly press them into your hot cross buns, without deflating the mixture. You can then bake them in the oven for around fifteen to twenty minutes, or until the buns are golden brown. Once baked, remove the buns from the oven and lightly brush them with apricot jam.

simnel cake
Photo by Jeremy Tarling

 

Simnel cake is a typical British Easter recipe that your family are sure to love!

 

 Simnel cake

This spicy fruit cake is often eaten at the end of Lent. If you fancy trying it out yourself, follow our simple recipe below.

Ingredients:

·       560g of almond paste / marzipan

·       450g dried currants, raisins, sultanas and cherries

·       80g candied chopped peel

·       225g plain flour

·       Pinch of salt

·       1 tsp. ground cinnamon

·       1 tsp. grated nutmeg

·       175g butter

·       175g caster sugar

·       3 large eggs (beaten)

·       Milk

·       2 tbsp. apricot jam

Pre heat oven to 325°F/170°C/Gas 3

First take a sheet of greaseproof paper and line your cake tin. Next, divide your almond paste or marzipan into three portions, rolling one of them roughly into the size and shape of the tin.

The next step is to combine the dried fruits and candied peal with the plain flour and spices in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the butter with the sugar until it has a light and fluffy texture. Slowly add in the beaten egg, a little at a time, whipping the mixture well so it does not curdle. Fold in the flour and fruit, one half at a time.

You will then need to split the cake mixture in two, placing one of the halves into your tin. Smooth it over and cover it with the rolled marzipan. Put the rest of the cake mixture into the tin and smooth the surface carefully. Lower the temperature of your oven to 300°F/150°C/Gas 2 and then bake your cake for three hours. Once it is golden brown, remove it from the oven and leave it to one side to cool.

Whilst you are waiting for your cake to cool down, roll another portion of your almond paste or marzipan to the size of the cake tin. Then make the remaining portion into eleven small balls. Once the cake has cooled down, remove it from the tin and lightly brush the top with apricot jam before covering it with the other circle of almond paste. Next place the eleven tiny balls around the edge of the cake and brush the paste with a little apricot jam. Finally finish off the Simnel cake by placing it under a hot grill to brown the glaze.

About the Author:

Tom Reynolds, luxury-kitchen designer at Nicholas Anthony, follows design ideas and trends across the year so that his experience can help the firm’s clients pick the proper look for their dining room. He also researches culinary trends focusing on wine tasting and related food.

 

 

Geraldine Jensen

Publisher and Editor of Families Online Magazine. Our experts provide warm, loving, and generous advice for you, your family and children, no matter their age -- infants, school age, 'tweens, and teenagers. Features include:Parenting, Ages and Stages of Child Development, Child Support, Cooking, Health, Children's Books, Nutrition, Christian Parenting, Relationships, Green-living, Education and School

Ms. Jensen is a leading advocate for families and children and was the founder and president of ACES, The Association for Children for Enforcement of Support.
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