When we became Anglican and my husband found out that a pancake dinner was incorporated traditionally into the church year, he knew we had come home. Something like “The Prayer Book, Church Year AND Pancakes: What More Could You Want?” would somewhat convey his exuberance at the discovery. And this year, my (almost) three year old is also pretty excited about the prospect of pancakes and getting to play with her little friends while we set up for our church’s party tonight. (Read more about Shrove Tuesday at Full Homely Divinity).
Meanwhile, for the first time, we made hot cross buns to eat for Ash Wednesday tomorrow. Nevermind that my daughter was still in her pajamas/pull-up and my house was falling to pieces around us, I’m feeling fairly happy about this. They aren’t traditional, since my daughter dislikes raisins. But, our main fare tomorrow will be the hot cross buns and cheese (since we have children and I’m a nursing mother). I know that some people only eat the hot cross buns on Good Friday, but I am going with both Ash Wednesday and Good Friday (as I read in this post from Like Mother, Like Daughter).
For some reason, I felt kind of overwhelmed with the multitude of hot cross bun recipes on the internet and decided to go with the cookbook version (from Just Like Mom Made, given to me by my mom for my wedding. This was a sweet gesture, but I’ve barely used it since my early-organic-food-adopter mom actually never cooked comfort food like this.). Nonetheless, here is the recipe I used in case you would also not like to search around.
Hot Cross Buns
- 2 packages active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water (110-115 degrees)
- 3/4 cup warm milk (110-115 degrees)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/3 cup butter, melted
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 3 eggs
- 3/4 cup raisins
- 1 Tablespoon grated lemon peel
- 1 Tablespoon grated orange peel
- 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 Tablespoon cold water
- 1 cup confectioners’ sugar
- 1-1/2 teaspoons butter, softened
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3-4 teaspoons milk
In a large mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add milk, sugar, butter, salt, cinnamon and allspice; mix well. Beat in 2 eggs. Stir in the raisins, lemon and orange peel and enough flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Place ina greased bowl. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, around 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and dived into 24 pieces. Shape each into a ball. Place 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 30 minutes.
Beat remaining egg with water; brush over rolls. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes or until browned. Remove from pans to wire racks to cool.
For icing, in a small bowl, combine sugar, butter, vanilla and enough milk to achieve a piping consistency. Pipe an “X” on top of each bun.
In preparing for Lent this year, I’m thinking about we don’t have to do any grand, heroic acts; the point is not to impress others or to impress ourselves. The point is growing in virtue and more so, growing in our hunger for God. And, as St. Augustine said:
“The reward of virtue will be God himself, who gave the virtue, together with the promise of himself, the best and greatest of all possible promises. For what did he mean when he said, in the words of the prophet, ‘I shall be their God, and they will be my people?’ Did he not mean, ‘I shall be the source of their satisfaction; I shall be everything that men can honorably desire; life, health, food, wealth, glory, honor, peace, and every blessing?’ For that is also the correct interpretation of the Apostle’s words, ‘so that God may be all in all.’ [God] will be the goal of all our longings; and we shall see him forever; we shall love him without satiety; we shall praise him without wearying. This will be the duty, the delight, the activity of all, shared by all who share the life of eternity.”