Thursday, 5 April 2012

Magnolias and Hot Cross Buns

I’ve been enjoying the budding blossoms and pretty magnolias lately. 

The sun has been shining brightly and Mother Nature has been teasing us with the possibility of a long and lovely summer. Lighter days bring fresh air and a sense of renewal. I feel as though a sheet has been lifted from me and is freeing unresolved thoughts which  have been rising to the surface pretty rapidly, a bit like the dough in this recipe I’m sharing with you today! On the menu are Hot Cross Buns!!!

This Friday is Good Friday, and traditionally these delights are to be made on this day. I love cooking with the seasons and recommend marking this Holy day with some simple and healthy baking. I’ve added a few Feeling Food twists to these traditional delights. Hot cross buns are not nearly as difficult to make as you may think, best of all, the light and fluffy spiced dreamy scent that sweeps through the home while they bake, is like a fragrant spring promise. An Easter time promise, that brings the destined peace we all deserve, a great reminder that Love begins with the simplest of things.
My Dad’s Birthday was on 3rd of April. I sent up some prayers and made a batch of these, whilst reflecting on many happy memories. He loved Hot Cross Buns and my Mum loved baking, so there was never a shortage. Afterwards I shared one with my son and we talked about Eddie/ Dad/ Granddad. It was lovely and lovelier still is that I felt closer to my Dad in the process. 
My son, whose not a fan of Hot Cross Buns loved this version. They are seriously yummy and nutritious - treats don't have to leave you feeling bloated - theses darlings certainly won't.

Cooking at its beautiful best brings love to a table in abundance, lifts spirits and nourishes mind and body. Hot cross buns are beautiful for so many reasons. I wonder who or what you may be thinking about whilst baking a batch? The rising takes time... a bit like me waking up in the morning!

I’ve included Stevia in this version, which is now widely available; it is a naturally sweet herb from South America and has been used for centuries. Stevia has very few calories and makes sweet treats healthy – if you can’t find it muscavado sugar will be just as delicious, though not as healthy.
Baking is almost a dance like experience. There is flow to be found, and to ensure a tripping free tango do some of the following
·     buy all ingredients the day before, if possible
·     take care to buy whole wheat bread flour, plain just wont do
·     measure all ingredients beforehand and have surfaces clean and clear
·     stick recipe on a cupboard door, I’ve added a print button below to make it easier to print, thank you Julia for the good idea!
·     Pop on some of your favourite relaxing music and make magic like sweet laughter…
Let the dough dance unfold! And if you trip, who cares? It's all about the fun and dancing!
Kneading dough is wonderfully relaxing, there are so many techniques and there are a few tips I’d like to share that will give you a soft and smooth dough with bounce!  
·     No perfume on wrists please when baking! I love Cocoa Channel though in this instance it simply won’t do! Who needs perfume anyway? The sweet scent of baking fills a house with a scent more pleasing than any perfume I know.
·     Wear flowers in your hair! I mean have floury hands! This will stop dough sticking to them.
·     Knead with the heel of your hands, until the dough is lovely and smooth, this happens when the water has mixed with the gluten in the flour and it feels lovely and elastic, silky even, with a pleasant spring to it.
·     Press your finger lightly into the dough and it should bounce back, the dough is ready.

Above all, relax, this is supposed to be fun and the only person who may change that is you. The various stages of this recipe are very simple. You may prefer to make these in two stages. At the end of the first stage the dough resembles a Christmas pudding. If you like, leave the dough to prove overnight in the fridge, see recipe for a clear explanation.
This week I reached 2,500 likes on my Facebook page! Thank you to all who pressed the like button and share my posts, it means a lot and helps me to spread Feeling Food love! The warm happy feelings brushed my brow and I then read a message on my blog and discovered I’d been nominated for a blog award by a fellow blogger. Happy days!!! Thank you Vanessa Rubens from Mango-Ginger, I will follow this up in a couple of weeks time, after a week away by the sea.
I wish you all a very Happy and peaceful Easter.
Lots of Love,
Hottest Healthy Cross Buns


Wholemeal bread flour, 450g
Ground cloves, ¼ tsp
Ground cinnamon, ½ tsp
Ground ginger, ¼ tsp
Stevia, 30g (Alternatively, muscavado sugar 40g)
Easy blend yeast, 1 packet, 7g
Mixed dried fruit, 100g
Dark chocolate chips, at least 70% cocoa solids, 60g
Butter, 50g
Milk, 200ml
Cardamom pods, 2 bashed
Orange, 1 the zest only
Sweet freedom/ maple syrup 1 tbs
Eggs, 1 lightly beaten

Rice flour, 50g
Water, 3 tbsp
Apricot Jam, ½ tablespoon, warmed
MIX the bread flour, spices, salt, chocolate and dried fruit in a large bowl.
HEAT the milk in a small pan with butter, orange zest and cardamom pods, until the butter has melted and the gorgeous buttery citron laced cardamom scent ruffles the senses.
LEAVE milk mixture to cool for a few minutes, allowing the flavours to infuse and the yeast.
REMOVE cardamom pods, their magic is complete and add the sweet freedom/ maple syrup followed by the yeast.
BEAT eggs into the milk mixture.
MAKE a well in the flour and pour in the milk mixture and stir lovingly to make a soft dough, if it is a little dry add a drop of warmed milk.
TIP dough onto a floured surface and knead for 5 minutes.
PLACE in a lightly buttered bowl and cover with cling film.
A little trick is to place cling film on top of bowl and then butter, gently remove and switch over! Easy peasy!
LEAVE to rise in a warm place for 1 hour.
ALTERNATIVELY leave to prove overnight in the fridge, which simply means, you let the dough double in size. Allow dough to adjust to room temperature before the next step.
TIP risen dough onto a floured surface and knock out the air pockets, this is a great exercise to release any tension.
DIVIDE into fourteen even shaped balls.
PLACE 2cm apart on a baking tray lined with parchment.
SCORE the tops with the imprint of a cross, using the back of a knife.
LIGHTLY cover with greased cling film.
LEAVE to rise for another hour, they should now be looking fairly cosy.
BRUSH with a little egg wash.
PRE-HEAT oven to gas 7/ 220’C.
MIX the cross ingredients to form a thick paste.
PIPE crosses over the buns, the scoring earlier will make this a breeze.
If you don’t have a piping bag, not to worry, simply make a small cut in the corner off a plastic food bag and squeeze with gusto.
PLACE a tray of hot water in the bottom of the oven to create steam, this will give your buns a lovely crust/ this is optional and whether you  like a crust or not.
BAKE for 15 - 20 minutes.
HEAT jam in a pan and brush over buns as soon as they come out of the oven.
COOL a little on a wire rack before serving.
BUTTER generously and enjoy the gift of right now.
These buns are best enjoyed warm and fresh from the oven on the day they are baked. The next day, if there are any left over, doubtful, cut in half and toast lightly, then spread with butter, for a fresh and lovely teatime treat.


  1. So sweet that you say a prayer and bake for your Father! He is smiling down so thankful for those tasty smelling hotcross buns! Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Thank you Serena!! Maybe heaven smells of hot cross buns this time of year: ) I hope you have a lovely, peaceful and calm Easter weekend. FFXOX

  2. Sinéad that is a great recipe for hot cross buns and a nice picture of you and your Dad/my brother Eddie. I remember my mother's hot cross buns very well. Eddie, John, Anne, Geraldine, my Dad and myself used to devour them with relish. They looked like yours from the picture. Happy Easter to you, Ali, Max, Leo, Oscar and Pauraic.

    1. Thank you Uncle Pierce: ) Hot Cross Buns were a definite favourite of my Dads, along with Battenburg and Chocolate Eclairs. My Dad often spoke of your Mums delicious baking. In December uncle John showed us the summer house in Rush, where you used to stay as children. It was lovely to see Orbey Cottage, my Dad talked fondly about those summer's often too. Happy Easter to you all and a special hug to the lovely Oisin. xx

  3. I love the fact that these are really healthy and they still contain some chocolate! Happy Easter.

    1. Thank you Corina, me too! Good quality chocolate is good for you: ) In moderation of course: ) I hope you have a lovely Easter, with lots of chocolate eggs too: ) FFXOX

  4. These look so good! The spring blossom puts a smile on my face. Hope you had a lovely Easter, it's nice that you can remember your Dad with these.

    1. Mine too: ) Hope the breeze is gentle and the sun is shining where you are! FFX

  5. Mmmm. Your buns are looking so yummy.I wanna taste it. Thanks for recipes. sell my house


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