Hot cross buns (or hot x buns, as I call them, in honor of my rudimentary decorating skills and slightly twisted Catholic school girl days) are delicious breakfast food, full of warm spices, juicy raisins, and whatever else you happen to want to throw in with the dough. They’re a relatively quick yeast bread, though they would do well with a little rest in the fridge. Fresh-baked breakfast treat, anyone? They also happen to be ubiquitous in Australia, especially around Easter-time.
This is my first go at making hot cross buns, after years of hearing James suggest we should try and make them. Clearly, I don’t know what I’m doing. My Easter memories are limited to cheap chocolate and countless hardboiled eggs, carefully decorated and gathered in the morning dew. But trying out new traditions is kind of fun, especially when I have to ask James to translate the ingredient list for me. Caster sugar? Sultanas? You get the picture.
This one’s a new one for me, so it’s not quite right yet. It’s good, but it’s not “correct,” as James would say. But I did get to taste an authentic (and delicious) version of these just this morning, thanks to some friends of ours. So I’m kind of hoping I can help you skip this initial awkward phase and get straight to the good stuff.
So, Happy Easter, even if your celebration is limited to a Cadbury creme egg or two. And since I’m in a curious mood, I’ll leave you with a question: what are your favorite holiday foods?
James always works late on days when I have overnight shifts. I hear him come in quietly, grab some food — something simple, usually involving cheese on toast — and slip out into the twilight, back to work, just as I’m settling into bed for a nap. When I wake up, the house is quiet, and sunlight no longer peeps around the curtains, taunting me with its brightness. On nights like these, I wake up in time to make something light but filling — something to get me through until morning.
Usually, this breakfast / dinner / midnight snack involves pasta. It’s funny, because it kind of feels like I’m reverting to when I lived by myself. I think I ate pasta almost every day, tossed with a few vegetables and a bit of spice. Since James and I moved in together, pasta’s taken a backseat to protein; typically, there’s some sort of meat involved. Yah, me, the ex-vegetarian for who knows how many years. I’ve become a serious omnivore.
Not that I’m complaining, of course.
But on nights like these, pasta’s all I want. Especially when I have gorgeous farmer’s market spinach and eggs on hand.
This recipe is really simple, and can be prepared in the same amount of time it takes to boil the pasta. I didn’t want to mess with the spinach much, since it tasted lovely and fresh as is, and I wanted creaminess without the cream. That’s where the eggs came in. Beyond that, I did the usual — tried a little of this and that, until I had a dish worth blogging about.
This weekend was supposed to be filled with all sorts of fun projects: a new loaf of bread, a wonderful meal, the start of a new gardening season, and perhaps a bit of relaxation on the side. But these idyllic pictures of what I might do with my “spare time” must have deluded me into thinking that Spring Break would bring anything but trouble.
Yesterday, we took the car out to pick up supplies for our garden, and do a bit of grocery shopping in preparation for all the gorgeous dishes I had planned. We had a trunk full of all sorts of good stuff — organic soil, seeds, fruit, vegetables, milk, and the like — and were on our way back from a neighboring town, making our way on the rain-streaked monstrosity otherwise known as I-95. Things were clearly going a bit too smoothly. We had barely stood in a line, despite making our way through four different shops, and eerily enough, traffic had slowed to a decent pace for the weather. People were being polite for once. This never happens, unless 1) someone’s already been pulled over or 2) you’re starring in an episode of The Twilight Zone.
I think option 2 was more appropriate, given what happened next. My car (a classy Ford Escort) decided it was high time I recognized it was nearing 100,000 miles and started acting like it had been possessed by some sort of alien force. And so, one tow truck ride from the Better World Club later, with mechanic visits and potentially large bills looming, I decided to cut down my long list of complicated recipes and just make something that might get me through the next week in one piece.
Energy bars have been on my list of things to try making from scratch for a while, since James and I are both total bitches when we get hungry and nevertheless tend to pack too lightly for some of our biking / hiking treks. These bars pretty much meet all my criteria for yummy energy food: they’re compact, delicious, and not greasy at all. If you’re looking for something to take on a hike, or just want to get through a long day at work, these little bars will quickly become a weekly habit.
I have been craving raisin bread for weeks now. I finally got my act together and bought some raisins, and now I kick myself for waiting so long. This bread is moist, luscious, and just sweet enough to make a dreary morning bearable. And the best part? It’s probably the easiest bread I’ve made to date, despite its multiple steps and stages. You don’t need a mixer; in fact, I think it’s easier to make by hand. And it takes a relatively small time commitment, spread over two days.
My recipe is adapted from Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads, which is a book I haven’t really gotten into until now. The mash, soaker, biga, and bread stages all seem so complicated, but really, I think I’ve just been intimidated by the “difficulty” of making whole grain bread. This recipe proved me wrong, and I hope it will be just as easy for you.
Filed under bread, raisins