By the time you read this, I will have eaten 3 hot cross buns writing this post – would you believe I actually don’t like the things? Well, I don’t. Except these…These are the worlds best hot cross buns from Delicia Bakery – 298 Willoughby Road, Naremburn NSW 2065 – 9438 1330.
I don’t know where my dislike for these easter treats comes from, usually I love a baked good. Perhaps a bad experience of a flavourless doughy bun with the odd sultana and piece of candied fruit rind when I was younger… I don’t know. The only thing that appealed to me was the cross – I’d pick it of, examine it, and wonder how did they do it??
Then about 6 years ago I was introduced to the hot cross buns from Delicia, and now I’m seriously addicted. They’re darker in colour, light-as-a-feather, spicy and full of plump juicy sultanas. I have been known to eat close to half-a-dozen in one sitting alone.
There are so many different types of hot cross buns available these days, aside from the traditional ones, there’s; mocha, choc-chip, gluten-free, fruit-free and Woolworths have just introduced a white chocolate and cranberry version this year. Pastry chef extraordinaire, Adriano Zumbo, even has a chocolate-dipped hot cross cake that’s filled with cinnamon and raisin mousse, orange gel, and a bread and butter pudding insert… too much?
By definition, a hot cross bun is a sweet, spiced bun made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top which is traditionally eaten on Good Friday. In many historically Christian countries, the cross stands as a symbol of the Crucifixion. The first recorded use of the term “hot cross bun” was in 1733 although there are claims by the Greeks that they marked cakes with a cross, much earlier. It is believed (or Wikipedia tells me) that buns marked with a cross were eaten by Saxons in honour of the goddess Eostre (the cross is thought to have symbolised the four quarters of the moon); “Eostre” is probably the origin of the name “Easter”.
Sharing a hot cross bun with someone is supposed to ensure friendship throughout the coming year, particularly if “Half for you and half for me, Between us two shall goodwill be” is said at the time… and you can bring yourself to share yours.
This foggy early morning I’m at Delicia Bakery to pick up a cheeky dozen ($15). I can smell them as I walk down the street, but they haven’t yet come out the oven. My dozen quickly turns into three…
As I wait for them to cool and be glazed, I share my story with one of the bakers about how I made my own hot cross buns over the weekend, and really shouldn’t have bothered. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy with how mine turned out… but they don’t even compare.
Although I’ve been buying hot cross buns here for years, it wasn’t until they made an appearance on the Today show a few years ago that things went “crazy” for the little bakery.
Woolworths and Coles alone will sell an estimated 90 million buns across Australia over Easter and although Delicia can’t tell me just how many buns they’ll turn out, they did say, “We sold over 10,000 in one day alone.”
Working out how I’ll carry my swag to the car (they’re still hot), I tell the bakers that they really are the best hot cross buns in the world, but they’re quick to correct me, “in the universe”. There are no stats to back up this claim – there used to be a sign out the front that said it – but I believe them.
By the time I get to work, the windows have fogged up and I’m completely drunk on the smell of sweet spices that’s filled my car. There’s not even time to put the kettle on before the first one is gone.
In keeping with the theme of this blog – to always try something new – I decided to attempt to make my own hot cross buns. My Tall Friend and Baby O are due for a visit, so I’m making them for our morning tea.
This recipe comes from the Blue Ribbon Recipes – Prize Winning Recipes from the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Paranoid of creating the flavourless bun, I added a few extras things to my mix; currants and lemon and orange zest. I asked the bakers at Delicia what made their buns so dark and spicy, but of course they weren’t giving away any secrets.
These hot cross buns were easier to make than I thought – although they do take a little time to let the yeast work it’s leavening magic. Then end result was a lovely fruity bun and there’s no trickery involved in creating those crosses that fascinated me as a child – just flour and water.
If you’re wondering why they’re a little pink in colour – I didn’t have gelatine for my glaze, so I made do with some strawberry jam.
I definitely think they need the added zest and extra currants but I won’t be making them again, not for as long as I can buy the best in the universe from Delicia.
Hot Cross Buns (by Wailyn Mar from Blue Ribbon Recipes – Prize Winning Recipes from the Sydney Royal Easter Show)
Serves: 15; Prep time; 1 hour; Cook time; 1o-15 minutes
1 tsp dried yeast
1/4 cup sugar
4 cups plain flour
1 1/2 cups luke warm milk
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sultanas
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
Zest of 1 lemon and 1 orn
1/2 cup flour, extra
1/3 cup water, extra
1 tsp sugar, extra
1 tsp hot water
1 tsp gelatine
– Lightly grease 18x28cm lamington tin. Cream yeast with 1 teaspoon each of the sugar and flour, add milk and mix well. Cover and stand in warm place 10 to 15 minutes or until mixture is frothy.
– Sift sugar, flour, salt and spices, rub in butter, add egg, sultanas and yeast mixture, and knead lightly to ensure ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and clean cloth and stand in a warm place 40 minutes or until dough doubles in bulk.
– Punch dough down, turn out onto floured surface and knead well until smooth and elastic. Cut into 3 equal pieces then cut each piece into 5, making 15 buns in all. Knead each into a round shape.
– Preheat oven to 220C. Put buns on tin and stand in warm place 10 to 15 minutes or until they reach top edge of tin.
– Make paste by mixing 1/2 cup extra plain flour and 1/3 cup water, fill piping bag and pipe a cross on each bun. Bake 10 to 15 minutes.
– Remove from oven and immediately brush with glaze made from heating extra sugar, hot water and gelatine in a saucepan and simmering for 1 minute.
– Cool buns on a wire rack.