How many of us haven’t wanted these buns as kids? The popular rhyme – one a penny… hot cross buns – made it a favourite with me instantly. Also, it is probably the only bread that got dedicated a whole rhyme and sung a zillion times.
I got tagged recently by Arundathi for a blog event, baking for Africa, and I am hoping that this very small act and share on my part could help the event get noticed. ‘Breadline Africa’ is a South African based charity organisation that seeks to put a lasting end to poverty in Africa. You can find out more about them here.
When she was really young, a little girl of seven and when Jr. P was around four, I started reading out a book that meant a lot to me as a child – Mary Poppins – to my kids. Mary Poppins is amongst my favourite characters and story books and if you have read it I am sure you know what I mean. The one thing the kids kept telling me was – “Mummy, if only you were Mary Poppins.” A young mom then, it left a slightly sad feeling. I knew exactly what they meant. I too used to feel that when I first read Mary Poppins when I was 14, and these two were 7 and 4. For a long time I have been hunting for books by P.L.Travers but unfortunately these are not available easily. I had the first and second volumes specially gifted by H (Not I, but the one who gifted the OTG) along with the audio rendition by Sophie Thompson (5 Stars). I got the first one by luck – someone gifted it to H, and since he would not bother to read it out to his son he gave it to me knowing I will put it to good use!
Mary Poppins is the story of a couple, Mr. and Mrs.Banks who are both a little careless, and are on the hunt for a nanny for their children Michael and Jane. Mary Poppins arrives in their house with the East Wind and she is just a wee bit magic. The story revolves around her and the children and how she takes them on lovely adventures, and leaves them in the end, a little sad but expectant, when she goes off with the West Wind. Michael and Jane, are two children who are not really well taken care of until her arrival and she fills their days with joy as long as she is with them. There comes the connection to the bread. It is sort of haphazard but this is the joy that went into the bread, and I believe the magic in it will remain in the post and since this is going for a good cause what better way to pack and send it with, then a little bit of magic – which we could all do with every once in a while especially if it brings some good tidings.
If you haven’t read the book yet – go grab it. It is available only in UK and the US, and that too limited editions. I am still looking for the rest of the series. Believe me, this is one book you will enjoy as much as your child. Don’t miss the broadway versions if you have access to it.
I am sure you must have heard or seen the movie – the story differs a bit from the book but Julie Andrews and Dick Van Dyke are memorable as Mary Poppins and the Matchstick Man. See ‘Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious‘ on You tube and decide for yourself.
That’s what the recipe is all about – a lot of good feeling, healthy ingredients and that little magic called hope.
Recipe: Hot Cross Buns
Recipe adapted from ‘The Bread Book” by Sara Lewis(Pg.120)
500g – Whole wheat flour (I used Ashirwaad Atta)
3 tbsps – Margarine
1 tbsp. – Stevia syrup
1 tsp. – Salt
1 + 1/2 tsps. – Spice powder (Mix of more cinnamon powder, little black pepper, and little nutmeg)
30g – Fresh yeast cake
275ml – Natural unsweetened soymilk
25g – Firm tofu beaten with a little soymilk from above to a smooth paste
For the cross:
5 tbsp. – APF beaten well to a thick custard consistency with 2 tbsps soymilk
4 tbsps. soymilk + 2 tbsp. sugar heated till syrupy.
Place flour in a non-reactive bowl. Add the margarine, stevia, salt, spice powder and crumbled yeast. Add the tofu eggnog, and the warm soymilk.
Bring everything together and knead the dough. Mine became very sticky, so I dipped a finger in oil and kneaded for a minute more to make a smooth soft and elastic dough.
Place in a greased bowl and cover with a clingfilm for about 45minutes or till doubled. Mine was fast due to the fresh yeast.
Tip on your worksurface and knead again deflating it. Divide into 12 equal pieces and shape into spheres. Place them apart on butter paper in your baking pan. I put in 6 at a time.
Leave in a warm place to rise for 30minutes.
Bake for about 15 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 200 deg. C.
Remove and pipe the flour paste like crosses on each bun. I simply used a spoon and dragged the paste which is why it is uneven.