At the start of Easter I have followed the tradition and bakes some hot cross buns. These are essentially spiced buns with a cross on the top. I did some with the original incised cross, some with a pastry form of the cross and some with the more recent pastry full cross.
Two centuries ago, spiced buns were still a luxury that most people could not afford. They are now found in every bakers shop and supermarket at this time of year.
450g strong white flour
50g castor sugar
7g dried yeast
teaspoon ground cinnamon
teaspoon ground nutmeg
200ml milk and 3 eggs
Rub together the flour and margarine to a fine grist and mix in all of the other dry ingredients.
Whisk the eggs into the milk to make a custard and blend into the dry ingredients to make the dough. Kneed and then leave to rise in a warm place for an hour.
Knock down and kneed the dough well - leave for a second rise until doubled in size.
Knock down again and kneed thoroughly. Form into small round buns and place on baking trays. Incise a cross on the top and allow to rise and double in size (or add a pastry cross - see below). Bake for 15-17 minutes at 200°C. Immediately the buns come out of the oven, glaze with a mixture of water and sugar. The water will evaporate leaving a crisp and fine glaze to the buns. Cool for an hour before eating.
If you want to form a pastry cross, make a pastry using 4 parts flour and 1 part margarine, rub together and mix in a small amount of water to make a stiff pastry. Roll out and cut into long thin strips. Before the buns go into the oven, paint them with water and place on the pastry.