Taming the Yeast Beast

Kids aren’t the only ones out of control when fed lots of sugar. Yeast, an organism used to leaven bread, also gets a little wild when left too long feeding on sugar. I half expected this to happen but when I decided to replace all the flour in my hot cross bun recipe with spelt I thought the earthiness of this ancient grain would tame it. Apparently not.

Bread making by hand is a long process. It requires handling, then resting and rising time. This sequence usually happens at least twice and can turn homemade bread making into an all-day activity. While satisfying to have created something from scratch, not everyone has the time to do so, hence the invention of bread machines which do it all for you.

Fresh from my bread making course I decided to put my newly learned techniques into action and spent Good Friday making hot cross buns.

Hot cross buns are spiced buns with dried fruit and candied peel. They are like the spring version of Christmas cake sans alcohol. Traditionally served on Good Friday these buns have a characteristic cross design on  top said to represent the cross of Jesus. Despite the widely believed religious significance of this design, it is actually tradition to mark one’s buns with a design, be it cross or other. This was done for two reasons: to prevent bread from over expanding and then exploding in the oven and to distinguish an individual’s bread when bread from several people was baked in a communal oven. Below are the (dried) fruits of my labour:

Tightly knit and baked as one: pull-apart hot cross buns.
Tightly knit and baked as one: pull-apart hot cross buns.
Sugar cookies made with spelt flour and topped with chocolate, dried blueberries and coconut.
Sugar cookies made with spelt flour and topped with chocolate, dried blueberries and coconut.
Buns and bunnies...
Buns and bunnies…
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