Nostalgia and Hot Cross Buns

‘ Nostalgia – it’s delicate, but potent. Teddy told me that in Greek, “nostalgia” literally means “the pain from an old wound.” It’s a twinge in your heart far more powerful than memory alone. This device isn’t a spaceship, it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, and forwards… it takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel, it’s called the carousel. It let’s us travel the way a child travels – around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know are loved.’
                        Don Draper (Mad Men)

If Nostalgia was an indeed an ache you went back to where you felt loved, one of the places that Dave has wanted to go back to, is the Good Friday Mass that he was taken to when he was a kid. Not because he was a religious boy, but because his parents bought him these hot cross buns from a bakery (who baked them only on Good Friday) close to the church right after. It was their Good Friday ritual and the memory of those buns has remained intact in his mind, unlike all the other associated things that seemed to have changed with time. I know this because last year he had asked me to ice a Cross over a cake I had made (that was another era when baking bread at home hadn’t even occurred to me).

This year, I began my research on recipes a few days before Good Friday, and every time I showed him some pictures of the hot cross bun recipes, he looked unimpressed. And even though Don Draper mesmerized me with his spiel on nostalgia I decided he was wrong and nostalgia is overrated. It makes people live in the past, cling to a ghost while letting beautiful moments in the present slip away.

After damning nostalgia, my reason for baking HCBs changed. They were going to be the  true test of my bread-baking skills (which seemed to be improving with every new bread I baked). So I found the perfect recipe (read, the most complicated one) and modified it just a wee bit to bake my first set of Hot Cross Buns.

What you will need:

For the buns

  • 625g All-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp ground mixed spices (I used cinnamon, all-spice and dry ginger powder)
  • 45g unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 85g Castor Sugar
  • 1/4 cup lukewarm water
  • 1tsp – sugar to activate the yeast
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 2 tsp fast-action yeast
  • 1 egg
  • 275ml of lukewarm milk
  • 200gms mixed dried fruit (I was feeling a little generous since my SIL had sent a new stock of dried-blueberries and cherries from the US, so I dug into my older reserves of  dried blueberries and sour cherries and added a few raisins for tradition’s sake)

For the Crosses

  • 2 tablespoons. flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Castor sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons of cold water

For the Glaze

  • 2 tablespoons of Golden Syrup


    My secret to baking great bread!

How you make it:

  1. Add the yeast and sugar to the water and set aside
  2. Sieve the flour, salt and spice mix together
  3. Rub in the butter with your finger-tips
  4. After the yeast has bubbled into a froth, add it to the flour mix
  5. Make a well in the center and add the egg (beaten) and milk and knead to make a pliable and smooth dough
  6. Add the mixed dry fruits and knead till all of them have combined into the dough Shape the dough into a round and place in a greased bowl. Cover with a clean moist towel and set aside to prove for an hour
  7. Knock the air out of the dough after an hour and knead again for 5 minutes, shape the dough again into a circle, cover with a clean moist towel and set aside for 30 minutes
  8. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll each of them into a ball
  9. Place them a few centimeters away from each other, on a greased baking sheet and cover with cling film
  10. Next, place the baking-sheet into a big plastic cover and tie the ends of the cover to prevent air from getting in and place aside for 40 minutes in a warm place
  11. Preheat the oven to 200 degree C
  12. Add the water to the flour and sugar, spoon into a piping bag
  13. Remove the clingfilm and pipe crosses on to each of the buns


    The piped crosses on the HCBs

  14. Once the oven is heated, place the baking sheet into the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes till the buns brown on top


    Buns in the Oven

  15. Remove from the oven and brush with warmed Golden Syrup and leave to dry on a wire rack


    The Glazed HCBs

I had to rush to my gym right after. Hours later, when I returned home after midnight, my house was still swimming in the heady aroma of the freshly baked buns mixed with a whiff of the spices and the sweet smell of the Golden Syrup. And sitting pretty on the dining table under a glass dome were those pretty little babies I had created hours ago! They made me so proud!

You can eat these plain or with butter and fruit conserves. We had them plain for breakfast with coffee, everyday since Saturday morning. The last two got over today.

I don’t know if the HCBs took Dave him back to a place when he was loved, but I hope they showed him that he is loved in the present!

Nostalgia or not this picture makes me ache for HCBs.


I am going to listen to the Soundtrack of Mad Men now (if there is such a thing).


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