Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Treats

When you were a child, did you ever sing the nursery rhyme:

Hot Cross Buns,
Hot Cross Buns,
One a Penny,
Two a Penny,
Hot Cross Buns

Did you wonder what it was about? Probably not. Hot Cross Buns are spiced yeast rolls traditionally made on Good Friday. They are thought to have originated in England, sometime around the fifteenth century. They are soft, only slightly sweet, and studded with golden raisins or other dried fruit. A white cross of frosting tops each bun. Delicious with a hot cup of coffee or a cold glass of milk for breakfast. You can find a great recipe at King Arthur Flour's blog, Bakers' Banter

I wanted to serve these for Easter breakfast, but being yeast rolls, the buns have several hours of rising time. Not wanting to rise myself at 3:00 in the morning, I started the dough yesterday. I've wanted to experiment with this method for a long time. Cinnamon rolls, coffee cakes and all kinds of yeast breads are great for breakfast, but time-consuming. I've heard several theories on the overnight rise; some say to put the dough in the fridge after the first rise and form the dough in the morning. Others say to completely shape the dough, put it in the baking pan and put it in the fridge without a second rise, letting it rise slowly overnight in the cold. I went with the second method, then took the buns out in the morning, set them on the counter to come to room temperature and then baked them. They came out perfect!

On to Easter dinner. We're making a leg of lamb, although our foodie 5-year-old thinks rabbit stew would be more appropriate! I've got a ton of mint growing in the sun room, so I'm going to make a mint butter, with some tarragon and fresh thyme and oregano thrown in for basting. We'll serve it with sauteed baby carrots (the real ones, not the ones shaped to look like babies).
Then, I'll throw whatever vegetables I have left into a puff pastry, maybe add a little goat cheese, and bake a tart. I think we have a couple of bottles of Pax Syrah in the cellar, though I'm not sure of the vineyard or vintage. But getting down into the cellar is a bit of an effort, so we may have to settle for the Reynolds Family Winery Los Carneros Pinot Noir, 2006. Settle? Life's tough....

Happy Easter!

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