Spicy Pumpkin Hot Cross Buns
Easter is upon us, and I haven’t prepared anything! For some reason I thought Easter was miles away. But it’s here now. Today, in point of fact, is Easter Sunday. Not that we’re huge Easter people. In fact, we might just be the opposite of what “an Easter person” might be. But hey, I’ll take any excuse to bake a batch of hot cross buns. I don’t know why I only make them at Easter time.
I must be a stickler for tradition, as the decree to bake spiced buns only on certain days is no longer enforced. As soon as the New Year has passed, hot cross buns line the shelves of supermarkets everywhere. There are such scores of them, that they seem to leap into your shopping trolley even as you’re trying to put them back. I actually think it’s this overkill, this excess long before it’s due, that takes so much of the pleasure out of the whole experience of hot cross buns. I really enjoy eating these dense little things, but I feel I have to almost force myself to make a batch, simply because by the time Easter actually arrives, I’m sick to death of looking at them. Still, my stomach wins out, as it does every Easter, and I find myself making a batch or two yet again.
Coming from a Finnish background, hot cross buns are not something I grew up eating. The first time I tried a hot cross bun was during a home economics class in year 8. I made a batch and I was hooked.
Hot cross buns are sweet, yeast leavened and spicy, traditionally made with currants or raisins, and marked with a cross on the top. The cross can be made in a variety of ways, but it’s usually a mixture of flour and water. I’ve made a few versions of our basic adopted family hot cross bun recipe over the years, including choc chip, raisin and nutmeg, and chai tea flavoured, but this year, with our abundance of pumpkins to use up, I thought I’d try a spiced pumpkin version. I kept the recipe quite plain, simply adding pumpkin pie spice and crushed pistachios. I’ve nothing against the traditional use of fruit in the buns, but alas, my partner, bless him, has the constitution of most children when it comes to the use of fruit in baked goods. Not that I mind terribly. The spiciness of these buns and the hint of pumpkin, not to mention the beautiful golden colour, more than make up for the lack of fruit. Besides, you can always eat them with jam!
For me, hot cross bun fail as often as they succeed. One batch will be wonderfully spongy with just the right amount of spring, and at other times, I could use the buns as weapons in the event of a burglary, they are so hard. I’m not quite sure why this happens, but I’m not too bothered by it, and you shouldn’t be either, if your buns don’t turn out perfectly. I find hot cross buns quite forgiving. Even if they turn out a bit too hard, or they haven’t risen the way they were meant to, you can simply heat them up and slather them in butter and you have yourself a pretty tasty little treat. Luckily, the two batches I made today turned out brilliantly! We gobbled them up warm from the oven for breakfast, while we were outside relishing the late afternoon light, and we'll no doubt enjoy a few more for dessert! I hope you enjoy them too and that you are having a lovely Easter!
Love and light!