Happy Easter to those who celebrated Easter this past week.
Eventhough I am not a full time employee this year, but I enjoye celebrating both holidays. I am a Greek Catholic, and our holiday was last month. I like the traditions I grew up to especially when I was a devout church boy and the leader of our church choir. I love the chants from Good Friday; sad, melancholic, and glorious at the same time. I attended both celebrations. Can’t get more Easter-y than this 😋
Last Friday, I went to the Good Friday celebration at Choueir village up in the mountains where they have united the Eastern and Western celebration for the 9th year in a row. How wonderful is it for people to be all gathered in a unified ceremony combining rituals and chants from all the participating sects.
Earlier that day, and for the second Good Friday this year, I made Hot Cross Buns. It is not traditional in Lebanon to see it, and it is not yet adopted. Maybe in a few years to come. Yet, it will never overshadow Maamoul and my favorite Kaak Asfar traditions we have in the family and in the Middle East. Having not tasted Hot Cross Buns before, I only relied on the recipes I read. After some research, I decided to go with Jamie Oliver’s recipe from his site. I replaced a few ingredients with things I’ve had around the house. The recipe yields 12 beautiful buns that are aromatic, slightly sweet with hints of spices to balance things out.
Don’t do easy on the kneading part. This is the most fun. Stretching the dough, flipping it, folding it again, sprinkling some flour and repeating. Did I mention how sexy watching a man kneading a dough with his bare hands is?
P.S. I am testing a new way of taking photos on the porch. It is producing wonderful photos that require little to no editing at all. The first trial was with these photos and now this post. Let me know what you think
Jamie Oliver’s Hot Cross Buns
This is Jamie’s recipe, tweaked a little bit and written in my words
Makes 12 buns
- 14g (1 3/4 tbsp) yeast
- 200ml skimmed milk
- 50ml water
- 55g unsalted butter
- 55g sugar
- 455g strong bread flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- half a whole nutmeg
- 1 large knob of ginger, grated
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 cup mixed dried fruits, chopped. I used dried apricots and raisins
- 2 tbsp orange zest
- 1 tbsp nigella seeds
- 3 tbsp flour
- Liquid honey for glazing (I put it next to the oven to soften)
- Heat the milk and water until they’re barely warm. Heat can kill the yeast It should be warm enough to keep your pinky in it. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the yeast and some sugar to proof the yeast
- Melt the butter and set aside
- Sift the flour in a large bowl and mix in the salt, spices. rest of the sugar, and the grated ginger
- Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add the yeast milk mixture, the melted butter and the beaten egg
- With a fork, mix until you get a rough dough then transfer to a floured surface and knead well. You should get a soft springy dough.
- Sprinkle the bowl with flour and return the dough, cover and let it rise for an hour
- Punch the air out of the dough and transfer to a floured surface, spreading it down with your fingers. Sprinkle the dried fruits, zest and nigella seeds and knead to combine the ingredients well
- Divide the dough into 12 portions and roll them into balls arranging them on a lined baking sheet. Cover with a kitchen towel and proof for 30 minutes
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC
- For the cross print, in a bowl mix the 3 tbsp of flour with enough water to create a thick paste. Spoon it into a piping bag and cut the tip. Once the dough is ready, draw a cross on the centers of each bun and bake for 20 minutes on the middle rack until they are golden
- Take them out and immediately brush them with the liquid honey
- Serve with butter and jam, or on their own