“Happy Easter. May happy thoughts and springtime flowers brighten all your Easter hours.”
So what are you making for Easter Mr PAB asked, referring to the ever ‘hungry’ blog! Moi? I had no plans but he talked me into some. Having studied in convents all my life, I’ve been charmed by hot cross buns for long, long, but never baked a batch. Maybe this was the time! Soon enough, the sweet aroma of Hot Cross Strawberry Chocolate Chip Buns wafted gently through the house!
A hot cross bun is a sweet, spiced bun made with currants or raisins and marked with a cross on the top, traditionally eaten on Good Friday. In many historically Christian countries, buns are traditionally eaten hot or toasted on Good Friday, with the cross standing as a symbol of the Crucifixion. Sharing a hot cross bun with another 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. Because of the cross on the buns, some say they should be kissed before being eaten.
My version is non traditional yet quite delicious! I bookmarked a few recipes including one in my Thermomix cookbook, but eventually went for an oft used basic recipe. It’s the one I adapted for Apple Cranberry Almond Olive Oil Pull-Apart Loaf & Popovers from The Pioneer Woman, a ‘light as air’ flavourful dough, one that can take a stuffing, and is quite a fun dough to play with!
Stuffing? Yes indeed! I had a small idea creeping into my head as I had strawberries calling to be roasted yet again. I wanted to try adding a small ‘heart‘ of that roasted goodness into my hot cross buns. I cooked the syrup to a thick reduction to ensure the filling stayed ‘stuffed’ in! Also, instead of traditional currants I opted for chocolate chips.
The recipe never fails. For the ‘cross’ on top I piped some thick stirred plain flour and water. The buns were delicious and disappeared pretty soon. The red heart of roasted balsamic strawberries was a nice surprise as you bit through the bread flooding your palette with flavour and balsamic sweetness. It paired well, as does the chocolate, with an otherwise not too sweet bread.Buttermilk keeps the dough light, and the vanilla bean adds gentle, beautiful flavour. If I had placed the buns apart on a large baking sheet I’d have managed individual hot cross buns, but since I used a smaller baking pan, they rose into each other and resulted in a pull apart bread. No regrets however!!I like this dough recipe, and keep simplifying it as I use it more and more. The basic dough is eggless, butter free and light. Yeast, soda and baking powder combine to make sure it rises well. Its versatile too as I’ve used it in Savoury Chili Cheese & Garlic Olive Oil Pull-Apart Bread some time ago. More recently it popped up on PAB as the base of Sweet Orange, Roasted Strawberry and Chocolate Buttermilk Rolls.It’s one those recipes you can keep returning to, experiment with and enjoy in different avatars. I might try using the dough for a slow overnight rise sometime soon. So many ideas to keep the hungry PAB and kids happy, but often the lack of time!
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