What happens on Boxing Day in Australia? Yes, you guessed it, the hot cross buns show up in the supermarkets, a good three or more months before Easter. I have not succumbed to a single premature Pasquale bun to date, despite the array of warm specimens offered to me by my extended family on camping weekends. Good humoured accusations fly, about being a born- again hypocrite, as I, a non- Christian, patiently wait for the traditional bun eating day. I am rather fond of tradition and religious rituals of many persuasions. Now is the time to make and eat hot cross buns.
This year’s offering is a traditional Tuscan Easter bun recipe- Pan de Ramerino– a recipe that has been around since medieval times although adapted over the years. They were once eaten on Holy Thursday so I am eating mine tomorrow, though I may sneak one today as they cool on the rack. It is interesting to note that these buns are now popular all year round in Tuscany, not just at Easter. Just goes to show, it’s hard to keep a good bun down.
The recipe comes from Carol Field’s The Italian Baker, who attributes the recipe to a Florentine baker, Giovanni Galli. It is very lightly sweetened: the combination of rosemary oil and raisins is a delightful and aromatic combination. The buns are not as cloying as the ones I know.
Pan di Ramerino, Rosemary and Raisin Buns
Makes 12 buns
The ingredients are listed in cups/spoons OR grams.
- 3 ½ teaspoons/10 g active dry yeast
- ¾ cup/180 g warm water
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- ¼ cup/55 g olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 2/½ tablespoons/35 g sugar
- 3¾ cups/500 g unbleached plain flour
- 1 teaspoon/5 g salt
- 3-4 sprigs rosemary
- 2/3 cup/100 g golden raisins
- 1/3 cup/75 g apricot glaze
In a large bowl of a stand mixer, stir the yeast into the warm water. Let stand until creamy. Add the eggs, the egg yolk, 2 tablespoons of the oil, and the sugar and mix thoroughly with the paddle. Add the flour and salt and mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl. Change to the dough hook and knead at low-speed for two minutes, then at medium speed for 2 minutes more. The dough should be elastic and supple.
First Rise. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover tightly with plastic wrap or a plastic bowl cover and let rise until doubled.
Shaping and Second rise.
While the dough is rising, sauté 2 rosemary sprigs very briefly in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil. Toss the rosemary out after it has flavoured the oil. Add the raisins and sauté very briefly in the oil. Remove from the heat and add 1 chopped fresh rosemary sprig to the mixture. Cool then add this mixture to the dough and knead, using the mixer, until well incorporated.
Cut the dough into 12 pieces and roll each piece into a ball. Place on a baking paper covered baking sheet and cover with a towel. Let the rolls rise until doubled, or about 1 hour.
Reshape the buns, which will have slumped a little, into definite balls. Brush the tops with oil. Slash a deep double cross or tic-tac-toe pattern in the top of each bun. Let the buns rise again for another 10-15 minutes.
Baking. Preheat the oven to 200º. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove the buns to a wire rack and brush the tops with an apricot glaze.
Glassa di albicocca/ apricot glaze
- 2/3 cup good quality apricot jam
- 2- 3 teaspoons water or fresh lemon juice
Heat the jam and water in a small heavy saucepan over moderate heat until the mixture comes to a boil, then strain through a sieve. Use the glaze while still warm.
Buona Pasqua a Tutti.