SO, HERE we are on Good Friday, and Easter is upon us.
I wish all of my Christian readers the very best at this time.
Passover has just begun as well, so warm felicitations to all Jewish readers, too.
Of course, being a Godless heathen, my interest in these holy days extends only as far as the delicious range of special foods that appear around this time.
Ah, if only one could braise the Easter bunny!
Seriously, though, there’s an enormous amount of wonderful dishes to consider at Easter time, from the traditional Simnel cake loaded with marzipan to the wonderful spiced breads of Eastern Europe, and of course, the modern chocolate Easter egg in its many forms.
One of my very favourite Easter treats is the traditional hot cross bun.
Not just a delightful sweet spiced bread roll, studded with tasty dried fruits and peel, the hot cross bun has deep spiritual significance, and even caused religious quarrelling in the 1500s when Elizabeth I banned their appearance except for Easter and Christmas, fearing that their Catholic origins would cause religious rumblings.
In actual fact, she needn’t have worried, as it’s now widely accepted that the humble bun pre-dated Christianity, and instead was of Saxon origin, the four quarters of the bun representing the phases of the moon.
Traditionally, the sharing of a hot cross bun ensures mutual health and lasting ties, and that’s something we could all do with, so let’s share our buns in a thoroughly modern way.
Two recipes this week, one for a sweetly-spiced take on the traditional bread and butter pudding, and another for a newly-discovered breakfast treat.
Hot Cross Bun Bread & Butter Pudding
7-8 fresh hot cross buns
100g butter, melted
7 egg yolks
¾ pint milk
¾ pint double cream
A pinch of freshly-ground nutmeg
Firstly, you will need a suitable oven-proof dish for the pudding, and a larger dish in which it can sit, filled to the brim with water.
This is to make a ‘bain-marie’ or waterbath, which cooks the pud gently, ensuring a smooth, set custard, bubble-free and fragrant.
Heat the oven to Gas 4 / 180°C. To make the custard, whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar together, then pour in the milk and cream.
Slice the buns, and tuck them neatly unto the baking dish, then slather them with the melted butter.
Pour the custard over, allowing the buns to soak up as much as possible.
Dust with a little nutmeg, and place on top of a tea towel in the larger dish, filling the outer dish with warm water as close to the rim of the pudding dish as possible.
Bake for about an hour until golden and wobbly. It may need a little longer.
Test this with a skewer; there should be no liquid left. Allow to cool slightly, then serve.
Hot Cross Bun Bacon Butty
I recently discovered the wonders of the bacon butty, transformed into a sweet-savoury delight by using a lightly-toasted hot cross bun.
To give your taste buds an Easter treat, simply grill a few rashers of local dry-cure bacon, and pop between a lightly toasted bun, preferably with a lick of butter.
Serve, of course, with a mug of piping hot tea. Bliss. Happy Easter everyone!