I really don’t like Good Friday. For me, it’s a forced reminder of how cruel people can be to each other. I do not believe in the death penalty and I do what I can to alleviate human suffering. But I do like hot cross buns. Confused by the presence of the buns in shops for months before Easter, a few years ago I forgot which was the traditional day to eat them. Well, hot cross buns are for Good Friday, the day Jesus was killed on the cross, and Easter eggs are for Sunday, to symbolise the day he rose again.
A few years ago I was in America for Easter and made an American version of the classic, with cranberries, maple syrup and blueberries. This year, I was inspired to do a truly Australian version with native fruit and herbs. So this recipe uses cinnamon myrtle as the only spice, muntries as the only fruit and honey instead of sugar. Cinnamon myrtle is a rainforest plant, in the same family as the more famous lemon myrtle. The leaves have a wonderful spicy flavour and aroma. Muntries are a tiny little, delicious fruit that grow in south eastern Australia. They are about the size of a blueberry, but with a pretty two tone green and burgundy colour. They taste remarkably like stewed apples but with the richness closer to sultanas. I thought them a perfect candidate for hot cross buns. In this way, you only need to buy two new ingredients to make these wonderful hot cross buns.
|1||free range egg|
|2||teaspoon||cinnamon myrtle powder|
Heat the milk and butter together till melted. Leave to cool to blood temperature and stir in half the honey then add the yeast.
Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Crack in the egg and yeast mixture. Combine the wet ingredients before folding through the dry ingredients. Mix to combine then knead for about five minutes or until the dough is smooth and silky. Place the kneaded dough in a bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for an hour or until it doubles in size.
Add the remaining honey, cinnamon myrtle and muntries to the dough. Tip it onto a floured surface and knead for another five minutes before returning to the bowl to rise again, doubling in size.
Divide the dough into 20 equal portions. Knead each portion into a ball and arrange them on a lined baking tray. I lay mine in fie rows of 4 in a rectangular dish. Leave them to double in size.
Preheat the oven to 220oC
For the crosses, mix the milk and flour together and transfer to a small piping bag. Pipe this across the buns to form the crosses.
Bake for 20 minutes in the pre-heated oven or until the tops of the buns are golden brown. Brush the tops of the buns generously and thoroughly with the remaining honey. Allow the buns to cool a little, before turning them onto a wire rack.
If you can hold onto the buns long enough for them to cool completely, store in an airtight container or in the freezer. They are delicious toasted and served with butter.