J’accuse! A small storm rocked the fragrant world of hot cross bun making a few years ago when nationally beloved cook Jo Seagar called out the Edmonds Cookbook over the poor quality of its recipe. Shockingly, this staple Kiwi household recipe bible had proven unreliable! Many people, myself included, had tried using this recipe and come to the conclusion that hot cross buns were too difficult and we lacked the secret to make them work. Of course that was bollocks.
Lots of people lack confidence in using yeast, which is a shame as it’s really not that hard as long as your yeast is active (i.e. working and not too old) and you give it sufficient time to prove (or ‘rise’).
Happily Jo Seagar came out front and centre with her own glorious recipe which you can find via the link at the bottom of this post. Thanks to Jo and a wet Easter weekend, I restored my hot cross bun mojo. A couple of hours and some hands on dough time and I had thirty substantial and delicious hot cross buns. They were brown and glossy, with a lovely yeasty, spicy flavour. Thumbs up – would trade again!
Next time I think I would just ice the crosses rather than using the recommended flour and water mix which was lumpy and not easy to apply.
And lets just say that again: thirty buns. One of the things I like most about Jo Seagar’s recipes is that the quantities are always very generous. This is a major consideration when you have a tribe of hungry boys to feed and still want a little to freeze for lunches.
Weirdly, hot cross buns have been appearing in the local supermarket from February this year in the same venal sort of seasonal creep we’ve seen with Easter eggs. Generally those hot cross buns are pretty disappointing too, soft pale flabby things with an unpleasant aftertaste. I guess someone’s buying them, but I find it devalues the tradition when seasonal trappings are available all year around. Surely the way to maintain the special nature of our traditions is to respect them and not to exploit them. One way to do this is to make them yourself. It’s just once a year after all, and thanks to Jo Seagar they’re not only achieveable but rewarding.
You can find Jo Seagar’s hot cross bun recipe along with many other truly delicious and reliable edibles here: http://joseagar.com/recipes/category:baking-and-treats/seagars-hot-cross-buns/