Lively up your shelf! Hot cross Friday

I don’t officially celebrate Easter unless eating chocolate Easter eggs and making hot cross buns counts as devout recognition of this holiday. And I consider Good Friday a day off from work and a day in the kitchen to bake hot cross buns rather than a day strictly for religious observance.

For those not in the know, hot cross buns are sweet yeasted buns imbued with spices, currants and sometimes candied fruit. They are typically eaten on Good Friday in a number of countries around the world (G’day mate, Kia Ora, Cheerio, Namaste, Eh!). I consider them to be a more sophisticated, toned-down and amiable version of the fruitcake.

For a number of years I have been making my hot cross bunnies but this year, inspired by an apple cinnamon hot cross bun from Cobs bakery, I was inspired to up the creative ante of my annual hot cross bun extravaganza. (Featured photo is my carrot cake hot cross buns with cream cheese icing crosses.) The spices, however, will remain the same.

Many recipes for hot cross buns call for ‘mixed spice’ and cinnamon. The blend that I particularly like is: ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon and ¼ teaspoon each of ground allspice, nutmeg and cloves. The cinnamon lends warmth and sweetness, the allspice and nutmeg round out the spice profile and the ever so subtle hint of kapow! from the clove makes sure the overall taste is not boring.

The spices are said to represent the spices used to embalm Jesus’s body while the crossed lines on top of the bun supposedly represent the cross or the traditional lines used by bakers’ in Pagan times. But that’s a history discussion for another time.

This combination of warming spices is a great complement to citrus peel and dried fruits, ingredients often found in hot cross buns. They also pair well with carrots, parsnips and pumpkin. Perhaps you can make a batch of this spice blend and use in the following: hot chocolate mix, ice cream, scones, muffins, cake, cookies. I certainly intend to experiment with my preferred blend of hot cross bun spices. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some pumpkin, cranberry, orange hot cross buns to make…

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Lively up your shelf! Spice a-peel

Kimberley’s holiday kitchen 

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.

Hot cross scones
Hot cross cookies

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.