Anneka Manning, a food author, mum of two and passionate baker behind BakeClub, joins us each month to share some of her industry tips, tricks and 25 years worth of experience. Today, she shares her Hot Cross Muffin recipe which is the perfect Easter treat for bakers like me who can’t be stuffed mucking around with dough and just want to get to the good part – eating tasty little morsels as fast as possible!
Traditionally eaten on Good Friday, Hot Cross Buns, are one of those Easter treats that are hard to avoid in Australia. No one really knows their true origin – they have been linked to Jewish Passover, Roman, Saxon, Christian and pagan customs – but there is no denying their Christian symbolism is strong.
Bread linked to communion, spices to represent the spices Jesus was wrapped in when entombed and the obvious cross on top (which was originally cut into the bun) are possibly the main reasons for being claimed wholeheartedly as an important part of Christian Easter celebrations.
Early traditions surrounding these sweet, spiced fruited buns included only being baked on Good Friday (unlike the large retail stores who have them for sale months in advance!) and were often grated and kept to use as future medicine. Buns baked on this holy day were also believed to never go mouldy and were often nailed in doorways as a good luck charm for the household!
I love making Hot Cross Buns during the Easter period (my favourite this year is a dried cherry & chocolate version) but if time is short or your looking for a simple home-baked alternative, these muffins which are studded with dried fruit and sweetly spiced, are perfect.
Happy Easter everyone!
Hot Cross Muffin Recipe
Even though less fuss and time is required to whip up these delicious Easter muffins, they are surprisingly similar to traditional hot cross buns. For a chocolate variation, simply add 100g chopped dark chocolate with the sugar.
Preparation time: 20 minutes (+ 25 minutes standing and cooling)
Baking time: 20-25 minutes
What You Need for the Muffins:
150g (1 cup) currants
130g (3/4 cup) raisins
150g (1 cup) white plain flour
150g (1 cup) wholemeal plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
11/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
11/2 teaspoons mixed spice
200g (1 cup, firmly packed) brown sugar
185ml (3⁄4 cup) buttermilk
125g butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs, at room temperature
11⁄2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract or essence
What You Need For The Glaze:
2 tablespoons sugar
11/2 tablespoons water
What You Need For The Icing:
90g (¾ cup) pure icing sugar
31/2-4 teaspoons water
What You Do:
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line 12 x 80ml (1⁄3 cup) muffin tray holes with muffin paper cases.
2. Put the currants and raisins in a heatproof bowl and add enough boiling water to just cover. Set aside for 10 minutes to soak. Drain well.
3. Sift together both the flours, baking powder, cinnamon and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl, returning any husks from the wholemeal flour to the bowl. Stir in the sugar and then make a well in the centre.
4. Use a fork to whisk together the buttermilk, melted butter, eggs and vanilla in a bowl. Stir in the drained fruit. Add to the flour mixture and use a spatula or large metal spoon to fold together until just combined. (Don’t over-mix – the batter should still be a little lumpy.)
5. Spoon the mixture into the paper cases, dividing evenly. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the muffins are golden and cooked when tested with a skewer. Stand for a few minutes in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack.
6. Meanwhile, to make the Glaze, stir the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer. Brush the hot syrup over the warm muffins and then set aside to cool.
7. To make the Icing, Sift the icing sugar into a small bowl and add enough water to mix to a thick, spoonable consistency. Spoon the icing into a resalable plastic bag and cut a small hole in the corner. Pipe crosses on the tops of the cooled muffins and then set aside for about 15 minutes for the icing to set.
These muffins are best eaten the day they are baked, however they freeze well – wrap individually in plastic wrap and then seal in a plastic bag or airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw at room temperature.
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