21 March 2008

Hot Cross Buns: Good Friday

Just as fresh vegetables and fruits mark certain seasons, hot cross buns mark Good Friday as strongly as any food/holiday combination. Even though it's snowing hard and four or five inches of snow cover the ground and each tree branch, spring is here. Last night, as I ground cloves in my mortar, and as I kneaded the egg-rich dough laced with cinnamon and nutmeg, the zest of lemons and oranges, I felt like a kid again. Easter is almost here! I put the dough in the large stoneware bowl I always use for dough, covered it and let it rise overnight. I woke up early this morning and punched down the dough. A few spice aromas lingered in the air as I kneaded and then cut the dough into smaller and smaller pieces.

The kids hovered by the oven to see them come out and to claim the one that looked just right for them. We quickly put them onto a cooling rack and put the next batch into the oven. Our glaze was enhanced with a little more lemon zest and a bit of lemon juice, and enough confectioner's sugar to make a decent cross on each bun.

And that's how I end my Lenten abstinence of sweets and baked goods. The kids and I ate a few together, and then I put on my boots and winter coat, and walked to work eating a still-warm harbinger of spring.

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