It’s Easter time and that means chocolate eggs and hot cross buns! Traditionally eaten on Good Friday, hot cross buns are enriched bread made with spices and citrus zest/peel. They are marked on top with the symbol of the cross, made from either a flavourless flour water mix or a mix of powdered sugar and milk.
This weekend I undertook a hot cross extravaganza and made hot cross cookies, scones and my signature buns known as hot cross bunnies; obviously made in the shape of a (Easter) bunny.
Previously I have made hot cross brownies and plan to make hot cross pancakes and muffins for next year.
Many recipes for hot cross buns call for ‘mixed spice’. So what exactly is in this blend?
Hot Cross Bun spice mix:
2 teaspoons of true cinnamon
½ teaspoon allspice
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ teaspoon clove
This quantity will be more than sufficient for one full batch of hot cross buns. Use the leftover spice blend to make cookies, scones, cake or whatever else you can think of to ‘hot crossify’.
*For best flavour, grind the spices fresh just before using in a recipe.
*For more pungency double the amounts of allspice, nutmeg and clove.
It’s interesting from a culinary perspective why some people travel. To experience the local cuisine, try something new or simply eat what you are used to eating at home?
In Europe, I overheard Americans on many occasions ask if the dining establishment served hamburgers and in Ethiopia one of the British tourists in the tour group requested fish and chips at every restaurant where we ate. Europe, particularly France, is known for tasty food that doesn’t include beef and buns and the pulse and vegetable based cuisine of Ethiopia is flavourly spiced and nutritious. The hamburgers and fish and chips will be waiting for them when they return home.
However, there is something to be said about enjoying comfort food on the road. A sensitive or tentative stomach may appreciate something familiar to digest while the mind in culture shock is somewhat placated by familiar flavours. Wherever I go, I seek out bread and chocolate. What’s your go-to comfort food when travelling? And why? Feel free to share in the comment section.
The ginger love is well underway! Scones, decorated cookies and ginger lemon curd to name but a few creations. (Although the ginger is not so pronounced in the curd. Note to self: next time use fresh ginger and infuse it into the curd while it cooks. Strain out afterwards.)
botanical name: Zingiber officinale
where it originated:
South East Asia
where does it grow now:
Jamaica, India, Fiji, Indonesia and Australia
Anti-inflammatory, digestive, useful for nausea
Other spices of the holiday season are clove, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Clove pairs well with cranberry, orange and mulled cidre/wine. Nutmeg is the signature flavour in eggnog while cinnamon goes well in mulled drinks, hot chocolate and apple desserts.
All four (ginger, clove, nutmeg and cinnamon) make a great spice blend for a variety of seasonal treats eg mincemeat tarts, cakes and cookies. Make sure to use minute quantities of clove and nutmeg. Your pinches and dashes will come in handy here. These are potent spices and a little goes a long way. Be generous with the ginger and cinnamon. A 2:1 ratio is a general guideline when using both spices depending on which flavour you want to dominate.
In gingerbread, use at least twice as much ginger as cinnamon.
Stay tuned for individual posts on clove, nutmeg and cinnamon….