Sarah and I will both be away for Easter – on separate road trip adventures – we realised we will be covering the whole east coast from Cairns to Melbourne. I’m driving FNQ and Sarah promises to stop and admire every headland from Lakes Entrance to Byron Bay (by headlands I actually mean op-shops). There are so many things I love about the north: green frogs in toilets, truckers wearing tiny shorts with tattoos all up their thighs, the constant fear of crocodiles/jellyfish, the crater lakes that are so clear and deep I think that I might be able to dive down and swim to the centre of the earth.
So we’re having an early Easter. We have been eating these Hot Cross Buns every day for both breakfast and afternoon tea. Sarah baked them until 2 in the morning (with all the proving and baking in batches it takes about three hours) and when I came home the house was fragrant with spice. Warm from the oven (we recommend warming them always) and spread with salty butter, they are better than a chocolate egg and worth the long process.
We need to bake another batch for sustenance on our long car journeys. Something healthy (and Easter-y) to subsidise the diet of service station bacon and egg rolls (the only thing that’s OKAY to eat from a servo – they’re not OKAY) that we will be forced to eat. Trucker food. Bring it on. We might even return to Melbourne with a couple of thigh tattoos and some Hard Yakka short shorts.
Hot Cross Buns
Adapted from The Baker by Leanne Kitchen
4 tsp active dried yeast
80g (1/3 cup) caster sugar
5 cups flour
1/2 tsp cloves freshly ground
1 tsp allspice freshly ground
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp nutmeg freshly ground
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup milk, warmed
100g unsalted butter, melted
2 free-range eggs
1 1/3 cup currants
1/2 cup raisins
1tbsp orange zest, very finely grated
2tbs caster sugar
1/2 cup plain flour
Pour 1/4 cup warm water into a small bowl. Sprinkle with the yeast and a pinch of the sugar and leave in a draught-free place for 10 minutes, or until foamy.
In a bowl, mix together the flour, ground spices, salt and set aside.
Put the milk, butter, remaining sugar, eggs and 1 cup of the flour mixture in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Mix for 1 minute, or until smooth, then add the yeast mixture, currants and zest and stir to combine. Add the remaining flour mixture 1 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. As the dough becomes sticky and more difficult to mix, set the mixer to the lowest speed to knead for 5 minutes. Alternatively, mix the dough by hand using a wooden spoon, then turn out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a large oiled bowl, turning to coat in the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a draught free place for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Knock back the dough by punching it gently, then turn out onto a lightly floured work surface. Divide the dough into 16 even portions. Roll out each portion into a ball, then place on two greased baking trays about 4cm apart.
Cover with a damp tea towel and leave for 30 minutes, or until doubled in size. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
To make the glaze, combine the sugar and 2 tablespoons water in a small saucepan. Slowly bring to the boil over high heat, then remove from the heat and set aside.
To make the crosses, put the flour in a small bowl and gradually add 1/4 cup water, stirring to form a dough. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface to a 2mm thickness. Cut into 5mm wide strips, about 12cm long. Brush the strips with water and place two strips over each bun to form a cross.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and brush the hot buns with the glaze, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool.