Richard Bainbridge of Norwich’s Benedicts Restaurant shares a hot cross buns recipe

Richard Bainbridge says eating hot cross buns reminds him of his childhood. He favourites are from B

Richard Bainbridge says eating hot cross buns reminds him of his childhood. He favourites are from Bread Source. Picture: Katja Bainbridge - Credit: Archant

Richard Bainbridge's best Easter memory is stuffing his face with spiced buns on Good Friday.

To me, Easter is a great time of year. It's the first holiday we can enjoy with the family.

The end of Lent is a time for people to really gorge themselves on chocolate and the rich variety of food Easter brings.

For my family it's about getting together and spending time outside on an Easter egg hunt. The butterflies are everywhere. My daughter is giggling, running around the garden trying to find eggs. The sun's beating down warming my face. I love it.

At Easter my mother comes over. My German grandfather comes over. My sister comes down. It's quite a big thing in our family and it's a great celebration.


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Easter is always associated with the hot cross bun, and with chocolate and all those goodies.

The buns are that thing probably when you're younger you're like 'oh a spiced bun – I want an egg!' But as you get older they give you a warm feeling of nostalgia – more so than a chocolate egg because you can get chocolate any time of year.

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Hot cross buns were always a treat for me growing up. We were always off school on Good Friday and we'd spend all day eating the buns and watching telly. I loved them just-toasted with warm salted butter trying to drip through. With that hint of spice, they're wonderful.

The history of the hot cross bun (according to theory) goes back as far as the 12th century when they were created by a monk in St Albans and called the Alban Bun. They were always made on a Good Friday to give to the poor.

The essence of what they are is a traditional bun recipe lightly spiced with sugar and finished with currants or raisins. At the moment I'm teaching my daughter the nursery rhyme Hot Cross Buns and we made these buns last week with a recipe from Steven Winter at Bread Source. He does amazing baked goods. From what I've tasted around these are so simple with a little bit of spice. And the honey glaze he does on top is perfect.

He thinks this recipe is a good one for families and children to make at home. It's easy to associate this time of year with chocolate but with more people baking thanks to the Great British Bake Off, we should start a new tradition of being able to bake hot cross buns at this time of year, filling the house with the scent of cinnamon for Easter.

Another top tip for something we do at Easter is to blow eggs. We always make an Easter tree in our garden. We take a twig off a tree and put it in water and the buds open up and we blow eggs and hang them around it. Katja and I have made about 16 in the 11 years we've been together and now, with our daughter Holly, she's making them as well. It's a great family tradition. All you have to do is stick a pin through each end of the egg, get a straw, blow out all the egg, put a little matchstick on the end of a string and thread it through, then paint or mark it all over and hang on your Easter tree. It's so simple.

Bread Source's hot cross buns

(makes about 12)

Ingredients: Stage 1: 1.5 7g sachets of dried yeast, 450g strong bread flour, 8g sea salt, 250ml milk, 60g unsalted butter, 60g caster sugar, 1 large free-range egg.

Stage 2: 1tsp each mixed spice and cinnamon, ½ whole nutmeg, 55g sultanas, 55g raisins, 20g mixed peel

Stage 3: 50g plain flour, 50ml water, dash of water

Stage 4: Runny honey to glaze

Method

Activate the yeast in warm milk for 10 minutes. Mix all of the stage one dry ingredients with the milk and yeast in a large bowl. Knead to a nice soft, strong dough (about 10 minutes). In another bowl mix together stage two ingredients. Mix stage one dough with stage two fruit, incorporating evenly. You'll need to fold and chop it many times until the fruit is thoroughly dispersed. Leave in a bowl for at least an hour to double in size. While waiting, mix together all the stage three ingredients to form a batter. Push the dough down and divide into 90g pieces. Roll into rounds and place on a baking tray for one hour or until doubled in size. Pipe your crosses over with a piping bag.

Bake in a pre-heated oven at 210C for 15 minutes until golden brown. As soon as they come out of the oven, brush with the honey glaze.

My top three Easter goodies

1. The best hot cross bun (in my eyes) in East Anglia is from Bread Source in Aylsham.

2. The best chocolate egg you can buy, which is made in East Anglia, is from the Penny Bun Bakehouse. They sell beautiful eggs which come in a beautiful bag. They're like something you'd see in a London patisserie and they're great value for money.

3. I think the best egg hunt I've found that I like going to with my daughter is at Blickling Hall Estate from Good Friday to Easter Monday. It's £2 for children and £6 for adults. The great thing about Blickling is the gardens. Children can run around everywhere. It's quite magical.

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Richard and Katja Bainbridge own and run Benedicts Restaurant in Norwich.

Twitter, Facebook and Instagram @RestBenedicts

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