For the first year, I made my own hot cross buns. Tradition and myth has it that those hot cross buns baked on Good Friday won't go mouldy. However, mine didn't have chance to go mouldy, they were all eaten quite quickly and weren't given a chance to turn to penicillin.
I made them using my Kitchenaid mixer, which I have to admit I'm not sure worked very well. The kneading part seemed more dramatic than I anticipated for a simple bake... the dough kept creeping out of the mixing bowl, trying to lift the arm of the mixer up... I was scared of the dough. In the end I hand-kneaded it for a while. I'm not convinced that it had enough kneading in the end (it kneaded more, ahaha). The final resulting buns were quite heavy, although tasty.
12g dried yeast
500g strong white flour
50g caster sugar
2 tsp salt
1 egg beaten
2 tsp ground spice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
50g candied peel
For the paste crosses
2 1/2 tsp water
(I think this part went wrong... Perhaps the paste needed more water, perhaps I rolled the paste too thin, but the crosses once baked were very crunchy, almost to teeth-breaking point)
Stir the yeast into the milk and set aside. Combine the flour, sugar and salt. Work in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Stir in the beaten egg, water, spices, currants, and apple, and yeasty milk with a wooden spoon and mix to a soft dough. Leave to rest for 5 minutes until it’s less sticky.
Using dough hook in food mixer, knead for about 8 - 10 minutes.Place dough into large clean bowl. Cover with damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for 1 1/2 hours, or until double in size. Knock back and knead again for 2 – 3 minutes, then leave in the bowl to rest for 5 minutes.
Divide into 12 pieces and roll into balls. Place on a baking tray.
Make the paste, roll into thin strips, and drape over the buns while they’re on the tray. Leave in a warm place again for another hour, until doubled in size.
Brush egg wash over the buns. Bake in the oven at 200C (180C fan)/gas mark 6.
When cooked, brush over a glaze of 2 tbsp water and 3 tbsp sugar.
They looked good on exit from the oven, although I wasn't expecting them to be so round. The taste was lovely and spicey, even if my scary dough was too heavy. But not bad for a first attempt, and it certainly felt nice to have home-made efforts for Easter.
Next on my Easter baking list were some simnel cake-type cupcakes. I experimented with half of the batch by placing a slice of marzipan in the middle before baking (place a teaspoon of mixture in the paper case, followed by a circle of marzipan, then another teaspoon or so of mixture on top). This was in honour of my old next-door neighbour, Mrs Lambert, who used to look after me after school. She used to make a lovely fruit cake with a layer of marzipan in the middle. However, she must have sliced the cake in half after baking and placed the marzipan inside, rather than baking it - I didn't think of that. Baking it obviously made it go nice and melty and chewy, which tasted yummy even though it wasn't the effect I was after.
250g mixed fruit
200g light brown sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
200g self-raising flour
60g ground almonds
2 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Not sure how much marzipan I used inside the cakes, but it was 6 circles big enough to get in the cases, at about 5mm thick...
Cream together the butter and sugar until paler and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, with a little flour if necessary if they start to separate.
Sift in the flour and spices.
Add the ground almonds, followed by the fruit. Mix until all incorporated but not overmixed.
Spoon into paper cases, with or without marzipan, whichever you fancy.
Bake for about 20 minutes (I think - I lost track of time, and just judged by the smell in the end!)
I topped all the cakes with rolled icing. For those that didn't have the marzipan baked inside, I used marzipan underneath the icing. Use a little warmed apricot jam to sandwich the marzipan and icing to the top of the cake.
I then topped 11 of the cupcakes with a ball of marzipan to represent the apostles, minus Judas. The recipe made 18 cupcakes, but I kept 12 separate to act as the simnel part.
Eat. Celebrate Easter. Enjoy.