I have always loved Easter time. The daffodils are usually in full bloom, the spring is ushering in warm days that make the birds sing and the sun wake me up earlier than normal each morning. And there is so much hope, so much joy tied up in the traditions and beliefs of Easter for me and my family.
Since getting married, we’ve spent Easters away visiting family – whoever doesn’t get us for Christmas, gets us for Easter. So we’re either in Oxfordshire or on Bornholm. I love being with family for this special and important celebration, but I also sometimes miss the chance to decorate and create new rituals of our own at home.
This year though I had decided on one new one that I could do while we were in Denmark: baking hot cross buns. These sweet bread buns are on sale everywhere in the UK, usually from the beginning of Lent, but they’re not a tradition anywhere else I have lived. I’ve always just bought them from the shop or baker before, but this year wanted to try them myself.
They are actually very easy. It’s a basic bread dough that you leave to rise twice, the second time in bun shapes. Then simply cut a cross into each bun and pipe on a flour paste into the cut cross and bake for 15 minutes. I used James Martin’s recipe from the BBC Good Food website, but added some grated orange zest because I’d seen it in a different recipe.
I was a wee bit sceptical while they were baking. They looked good, and nothing had gone wrong, but would they really be like the ones I were used to? I know basing my knowledge of a baked good on the ones that come in sixes wrapped in plastic is not necessarily the right way round, but that’s the taste from my memories, so they needed to match up.
And luckily they did. When they came out the oven looking and smelling delicious I did a little surreptitious dance around my mother in laws kitchen and then handed them around calmly (I’d already embarrassed myself once that day when Rasmus made me cry-laugh – you know, when you lagh so hard you stop making any noise and just cry and spasm a bit?!)
These are really good. It’s only Easter Monday so it’s not too late for you to bake them. And likelihood is, if you’re even a little bit of a baker, you’ll have all the ingredients in your cupboard. You’ll not be sorry.
I love these because they’re sweet and warm and soft and full of yummy flavours, with a sticky glaze on the outside that just demands that you enjoy them.
And because they are a little unique amongst sweet treats in reminding me of the real reason I celebrate at this time of year. Many people in Europe celebrate Easter as a cultural festival rather than a religious one nowadays and that’s fine. But as a follower of Jesus, all the rabbits and chicks decorating everything can make me feel ungrounded. Hot cross buns are my own way of taking back Easter from the bunny. And if they taste amazing at the same time, all the better!