Easter time always brings with it some charm entrenched with tradition. It’s a time for chocolate bunnies, soft colours, dyed eggs, pretty Easter baskets, bright flowers, Easter egg hunts, chocolate Easter bunnies in all flavours and Easter bonnet parades. But it wouldn’t be Easter without delicious breads. Hot Cross buns are one of the favourites at this time of the year. Although they are traditionally served on Good Friday morning, they are just too delicious to pass up baking a batch any time you feel like a treat.
CHEDDAR CHEESE BRAID
• 1 tbs active instant yeast
• 2 1/2 to 3 cups all purpose flour
• 1 cup milk
• 1/4 cup butter, melted
• 1 tbs sugar
• 1 cup grated cheddar cheese
For the filling:
• 1/2 tbs butter
• 1 cup grated cheese
In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, salt, and yeast and sugar. Add one cup cheese.
Warm milk to 115 to 120ºF, add melted butter, and combine; add beaten egg.
Add milk mixture to flour mixture and knead to a soft dough, add as much as the remaining flour as you can to make a soft but pliable dough. Cover and let rise until doubled in volume, about 45 minutes.
Roll dough to an eight by 16-inch rectangle.
Divide dough into three portions equal sections, braid dough, tuck ends under.
Cover and let rise until double in volume, about 20 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Bake for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for a further five minutes until nicely browned.
Makes one braid.
CHALLAH (Jewish Egg Braid)
This is a holiday bread, steeped in tradition and history enjoyed by Jews around the world. It is so delicious that it has become a popular bread worldwide.
• 1 tbs instant dried yeast
• 3/4 cup warm water
• 1/4 cup sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 tbs vegetable oil
• 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• Vegetable oil
• 2 egg yolks
• 2 tbs cold water
• Poppy seeds for top garnishing.
Combine yeast with 1 1/4 cups flour.
Combine water, sugar, eggs, one egg yolk, and one-tablespoon oil.
Add to flour mixture and beat until smooth.
Stir in enough remaining dough to make the dough easy to handle, soft but not sticky.
Knead dough on a lightly-floured surface for about five minutes.
Place in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, 45 mins to one hour.
Punch down dough and divide into three equal parts.
Roll each part into a rope like length about 14 inches long.
Place ropes close together on a lightly greased cookie sheet.
Braid ropes gently and loosely. Fasten ends and tuck under braid securely. Brush with oil and let rise until doubled in size 30 to 40 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 375ºF.
Mix the other egg yolk with two tablespoons of water and brush braid with egg yolk mixture.
Sprinkle with poppy seeds and bake for 25-30 minutes until deep golden brown.
Makes one braid
HOT CROSS BUNS
• 1 tbs instant dried dry yeast
• 1/4 cup warm water
• 1 cup lukewarm milk
• 1/3 cup sugar
• 1/3 cup butter, melted
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp ground cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp ground cloves
• 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
• 1 egg
• 1 egg yolk
• 4 to 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
• 1 cup raisins
• 1/2 cup mixed peel (optional)
•1 egg white slightly beaten
• 1 tbs water
In a large bowl, combine yeast with two cups flour, combine water, milk, sugar, butter, salt, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, egg, and egg yolk. Beat until smooth. Stir in raisins and mixed peel add enough flour to make the dough easy to handle.
Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about five mins.
Place in a greased bowl turn greased side up. Cover and let rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Punch down dough, divide into four equal parts. Cut each part into 6 equal pieces.
Shape each piece into a ball, place about 2 inches apart on a baking sheet. With a scissors, snip a cross on top of each ball.
Cover and let rise until doubled in size, about 30 mins.
Preheat oven to 375ľF Mix egg white with 1 tablespoon water, brush top of buns with egg white mixture.
Bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes. Frost crosses on buns with powdered sugar frosting.
Makes 24 rolls.
POWDERED SUGAR FROSTING
• 1 cup icing sugar
• 1 tbs water or milk
• 1/2 tsp vanilla/almond extract
Mix sugar with water and vanilla until smooth.
Add a little more water if needed 1/2 tsp at a time.
Place in a piping bag and pipe crosses onto buns in line with the crosses cut previously with the scissors.
Let dry before serving.