Monday, March 21, 2011

Anna Sultana's Hot Cross Buns

Last Sunday I wrote about the Catholic Church customs that ruled our meals during Lent.  

Hot Cross Buns are a Maltese Lent staple.
Yes, they are.

Okay, it's originally an English recipe.
But the English had been in Malta since the time of Napoleon.
Thanks to Napoleon, I was born a British subject.
Long story.  Google 'Malta'.

Even though Malta became independent in 1964, some English folks stayed.
They'd been in Malta since the time of Napoleon.
That's quite a long time.

The English weren't going to live on bread and water alone.
Maltese bakers cooked for their English customers, too.
Maltese folks tried the buns.
So, we have Napoleon to thank for Hot Cross buns.
Every cloud, even an invasion by Napoleon, has a silver lining.

There's a little nursery rhyme:
One a penny, two a penny... hot cross buns;
If you have no daughters, give them to your sons.

Yeah, right.  
Try getting 2 buns for a penny.  
Okay, these will cost more than a penny, but they're cheaper than store bought, 
and you can serve them fresh and warm from the oven.

                        Hot Cross Buns
Makes 2 dozen buns
Grease a large cookie pan         
preheat to 400º           
Bake 25 minutes 

Combine in a large bowl
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons yeast
1/2 Cup warm water
Let sit 10 minutes
Stir in
2 Cups warm water
4 Tablespoons margarine
2/3 Cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
Beat in
4 eggs
1 Cup raisins
1/2 Cup currants
1/2 Cup diced citron
8 - 9 Cups flour

Knead on a floured board 15 minutes. 
Place in a greased bowl, cover.  
Let rise 1 1/2 hours.

Punch down dough.
Divide dough into 24 balls.
Shape into buns.
Place on prepared pan.
Cut a cross on top
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon water
Brush buns
Let rise 35 minutes
Bake 25 minutes
Combine for sugar icing crosses:
1 Cup icing sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon extract
enough water to make a firm frosting
Spoon icing in cross grooves on buns.

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