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Hot Cross Buns

The date of Pasch ( Easter ) is that of the Jewish Passover, which, in turn, coincides with the great pagan festival that celebrated the Spring Equinox - thus Easter is the season of renewal in nature. In pagan times, offerings were made to the Goddess of Spring. The Scandinavians called her Frigga; the Saxons, Eastre or Ostara, whence the English name Easter. In Scots, however, Easter is called Pasch or Pesse, a derivative of the Hebrew pesach, passover, and in Gaelic,Caisg.

Like the Passover, Easter was a lunar date - that of the first Sunday after the full moon, following the Spring Equinox, hence the old Scots rhyme -

First comes Candlemass,
Syne the new mune;
The neist Tyseday aifter that
Is aye Fester Een.
That mune oot
An the neist mune fou,
The neist mune aifter that
Is aye Pasch true.

The custom of baking cakes in honour of their gods and goddesses was widespread among the pagan peoples; the Egyptians made a cake marked with a cross in honour of the Moon; and in Greece and Rome bread similarly marked was used in the worship of Diana, the round bun representing the full moon and the four quarters. After the introduction of Christianity, the cross became a Christian symbol and the Hot Cross Bun became a feature of Good Friday - this year 14 April. In Scotland the Hot Cross Bun is usually more highly spiced than the English variety and has a kenspeckle cross of pastry on the glossy brown surface. Marilyn's recipe makes twelve Hot Cross Buns in readiness for Good Friday.

Hot Cross Buns

1/2 level teasp sugar: 5 tablesp lukewarm water: 3 level teasp dried yeast: 1 lb strong plain flour: 1 level teasp salt: 1 level teasp mixed spice: 1/2 level teasp cinnamon: 1/2 level teasp nutmeg: 2 oz butter: 2 level tablesp castor sugar: 4 oz mixed dried fruit: 2 oz chopped mixed peel: 5 fl oz lukewarm milk: 1 large egg, beaten: a little extra milk: 2 oz shortcrust pastry: Glaze - 2 tablesp milk: 2 level tablesp sugar.

Method:  Dissolve sugar in the water, sprinkle yeast on top. Leave in a warm place until frothy, about 20 minutes. Sift flour, salt and spices. Rub in fat lightly. Stir in castor sugar, fruit and peel. Hollow the centre. Pour milk, egg and yeat liquid into hollow. Mix to soft dough. Knead on floured surface until smooth and no longer stickie, about 10 minutes. Cover and  put  in a warm place until double in size - about 2 hours. Turn on to floured surface, knead until smooth. Cut into 12. Knead each piece into a smooth ball, place on greased baking sheet, cover and leave until almost double in size. Preheat a hot oven ( 220 deg C, 425 deg F, Gas 7 ), centre shelf. Roll pastry out thinly, cut into narrow strips 2 to 3 in long. Brush buns with milk, place pastry crosses on top. Bake 20 - 25 minutes until they sound hollow when tapped on base. Dissolve sugar in milk, boil 1 minute. Brush hot buns with glaze. Cool. Eat and enjoy on Good Friday.



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