Posted 9th April 2010
Weather a little like the opening half hour of The Day After Tomorrow; that's not what I signed up for this Easter weekend. As everybody knows, the only two proven antidotes to dismal spring days are either a cab directly to the airport or a leisurely baking session. Unfortunately, only one of those was a possibility this Easter. And so on Good Friday I found myself printing off the Real Food recipe for hot cross buns.
Personally, I find it hard to respond to the presence of dried fruit in baked goods with the enthusiasm that I know I should. Whenever I come across raisins, currants or sultanas in scones my default response is to pick them straight out, even if it means that I end up loading butter, clotted cream and strawberry jam onto 50p-sized fragments of disintegrated scone, as if I'm preparing a cream tea for Liz Hurley during one of her Dolls House Diet phases. But I know that hundreds of dried fruit devotees will say that I'm wrong, and even I accept that, for hot cross buns, dried fruit is part of the deal; removing them is as unthinkable as it would be to evict Edward from Jedward.
So the dried fruit stayed in, joined by some finely grated orange zest (not in the recipe, but I reckoned it couldn't do any harm). Kneading was harder work than I remembered (it's been a while), the 1½ hour proving time was a bit frustrating (I was too impatient for the pay-off of seeing the dough double in size - it still feels like a bit of a miracle when it does) and my flour and water crosses noticeably failed to respect the recipe's request for them to be piped ‘neatly'. But when I took those 12 heat-bronzed beauties out of the oven, I didn't care. They smelt fantastic. They tasted... they tasted good.
Not so good that I could take care of all 12 myself, though - even I don't love my own baking that much. Which is why the leftovers are heading for our recipe for bread and butter pudding made with stale hot cross buns. If any hot cross buns in your household have, by some Easter miracle, managed to escape being hoovered up, may I suggest you give them the same suitably delicious end.