What do soft fluffy bunnies, multi-coloured eggs, and decadent chocolate have to do with Easter and the resurrection of Jesus? To be honest, I don’t really know! I guess it’s like how Santa Claus has pretty little to do with Christ’s birth during Christmas. Hot cross buns, on the other hand, are traditionally eaten on Good Friday. The cross marked on top of the raisin-studded, cinnamon-laced sweet buns, represents the cross on which Jesus died. In fact, Queen Elizabeth I deemed them so special she decreed in 1592 that hot cross buns were only to be eaten on Good Friday, Christmas or at burials. That drove many people to bake the buns illegally at home simply because they wanted to eat them! Today, hot cross buns are sold and served any time of the year and if you’d like to try baking a batch, here’s a recipe I posted last Easter. Well, rest assured that no one’s going to arrest you for making these. In fact, not making them would be criminal.
But if you want to enjoy the flavours of Easter, yet don’t want the fuss of proofing and baking bread, here’s a super quick and easy idea: hot cross biscuits. American biscuits crossed with a sweet cream cheese icing after they are baked. They can be whipped up in less than an hour and are good for Easter breakfast or tea. Biscuits are best eaten on the same day they are baked, but can be kept in an air-tight container at room temperature for a day till Easter Monday! Have a blessed Easter!
Hot Cross Biscuits
(Recipe adapted from Joy the Baker)
Yields: 8 to 12 biscuits
3 cups (360g) all-purpose flour
2 tbsp (30g) granulated sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon powder
3/4 cup (180g) unsalted butter, cold, cut into small cubes
1 large egg
3/4 cup (180g) buttermilk, cold
2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup dried currants
1. Preheat to 200C/400F.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Add lemon zest.
3. Add cold butter and rub the butter into the flour mixture using fingertips. Add raisins.
4. Whisk together egg and buttermilk, then pour into dry ingredients, leaving about ¼ of buttermilk mixture. Use a fork to incorporate the ingredients. Add a little more buttermilk if necessary, until a dough is formed.
5. On a lightly floured surface, pat dough into a 1 inch thick disk. Use a 2 ½ inch round biscuit cutter to cut into circles. Gently knead the remaining dough scraps together and repeat until all the dough is used up.
6. Place biscuits on baking sheet and brush biscuit tops with remaining buttermilk mixture.
7. Bake in preheated oven for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned on top. Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting.
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
4 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1. In a medium bowl, use a firm spatula to blend all the ingredients together.
2. Fill a piping bag or ziploc bag with a corner cut off. Pipe crosses onto completely cooked biscuits and serve.