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contributed by Sharon
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp yeast
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
5 cup flour
1 1/3 cup currants or raisins
1 egg white
Glaze (you can use this one or your favorite)
1 1/3 cup confectioner's sugar
1 1/2 tsp. finely chopped lemon zest
1/2 tsp. lemon extract
1-2 Tbsp milk
This may be difficult for younger children to do themselves, but they'll enjoy helping to mix and measure the ingredients, helping to knead the dough, forming the dough into balls and adding the glaze.
In a small saucepan, heat milk to very warm, but not hot (110'F if using a candy thermometer).
Pour warm milk in a bowl and sprinkle yeast over. Mix to dissolve and let sit for 5 minutes.
Stirring constantly, add sugar, salt, butter, cinnamon, nutmeg and eggs. Gradually mix in flour, dough will be wet and sticky. Continue kneading until smooth, about 5 minutes. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let the dough "rest" for 30-45 minutes.
Knead again until smooth and elastic, for about 3 more minutes. Add currants or raisins and knead until well mixed. At this point, dough will still be fairly wet and sticky. Shape dough in a ball, place in a buttered dish, cover with plastic wrap and let rise overnight in the refrigerator. Excess moisture will be absorbed by the morning.
Let dough sit at room temperature for about a half-hour. Line a large baking pan (or pans) with parchment paper (you could also lightly grease a baking pan, but parchment works better). Divide dough into 24 equal pieces (in half, half again, etc., etc.). Shape each portion into a ball and place on baking sheet, about 1/2 inch apart. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
In the meantime, pre-heat oven to 400' F.
When buns have risen, take a sharp or serrated knife and carefully slash buns with a cross. Brush them with egg white and place in oven. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce heat to 350' F, then bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack. Whisk together glaze ingredients, and spoon over buns in a cross pattern. Serve warm, if possible.
Hot cross buns are typically eaten on Good Friday and during Lent
Stories abound about the origins of the Hot Cross Bun. Yet, the common thread
throughout is the symbolism of the "cross" of icing which adorns the bun itself.
Some say that the origin of Hot Cross Buns dates back to the 12th century, when an Angelican monk was said to have placed the sign of the cross on the buns, to honor Good Friday, a Christian holiday also known as the Day of the Cross. Supposedly, this pastry was the only thing permitted to enter the mouths of the faithful on this holy day.
Other accounts talk of an English widow, who's son went off to sea. She vowed to bake him a bun every Good Friday. When he didn't return she continued to bake a hot
cross bun for him each year and hung it in the bakery window in good faith that he would some day return to her. The English people kept the tradition for her even after she passed away.
Others say that Hot Cross Buns have pagan roots as part of spring festivals and that the monks simply added the cross to convert people to Christians. Even if this is the case, I think it was rather bright of the monks to be able to so readily tie existing traditions to Christianity!
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