I introduced Night Owl to my parents for the first time last weekend – can you believe it? I have never introduced a person I’m dating to my parents before.
It’s a little scary letting go of certain feelings that you have felt for a long duration of time. For example, I entered into my current relationship a little over two years ago. After a few years of searching for that elusive emotional combination of head-over-heels contentment and joy, I found it in a package that I had not been expecting – i.e. a woman. Love can be found in the most unexpected of forms, and when I realised that it didn’t seem to fit the traditional expectations that I had been raised with, I more or less panicked. Cue a very rough first few months of dating.
My emotional turmoil managed to level out as I was committed to making this relationship work; something very new to me after a few years of ‘sowing my oats’ shall we say. But that underlying fear of how my parents would react always lurked just under the surface. Since before the relationship started, both parents were already spending their time predominantly overseas but the level of contact became even less, as I was unwilling to reveal too much about what I was doing on a day to day, weekly or even monthly basis.
Two years of stress – I probably gave myself a stomach ulcer as a result of it – and then when I finally summoned up the nerve to tell them on the first day of their return to Sydney a month ago…. it was fine. They even messaged me a couple of days after I broke the news, asking when they would be having lunch with my “new friend.” Night owl and I were off to Hong Kong for our two year anniversary, so we held a yum Cha brunch to do the official introduction the weekend after our return.
For all my fretting, my fears were unfounded, and after night owl and I returned home, I went about making these buns to knead out some of my thoughts. While I understand that it may seem incredibly bizarre that I’m talking about my same sex relationship in a post about hot cross buns, there is something amazingly remedial and therapeutic about the act of kneading – whether it be bread or pasta.
Hot cross buns are a favourite of Night Owl’s, and I found this recipe easily enough off Taste.com. The original recipe says to just add the currants as they are, but I decided to soak the currants overnight to make them deliciously plump and juicy. I really feel that it made a big difference, but it made the currants swell to a degree that they almost took over the whole recipe, meaning that it was more of a ‘currants with some bread’ rather than ‘bread with some currants’! I would probably reduce the amount of dried fruit next time round, or try the recipe with dark chocolate chips.
To make 12 buns, you will need:
- 35ml boiling water;
- 1 dash Solerno or other orange liqueur;
- Juice of half an orange;
- 3/4 cup currants;
- 4 cups plain flour (for bread);
- 2 x 7g sachets of dried yeast;
- 1/4 cup caster sugar;
- 1+ 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice;
- Pinch salt;
- 40g butter;
- 300ml milk;
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten.
- 1/2 cup plain flour;
- 4-5 tablespoons water.
- 1/3 cup water;
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar;
- Butter, to serve.
The evening prior to making, add the currants to a small bowl and pour over the boiling water, Solerno and orange juice. Stir, wrap in cling film and allow to soak overnight at room temperature.
Combine the flour, yeast, sugar, mixed spice and currants in a large bowl. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, add milk. Heat for one minute or until lukewarm. Add the warm milk mixture and eggs to the currant mixture. Use a flat bladed knife to mix until the dough comes together. Use clean hands to continue mixing to form a soft dough.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead for ten minutes or until the dough is smooth. Place into a lightly oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Set aside in a warm, draught free place for one to one and a half hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
Line a large baking tray with non-stick baking paper. Punch the dough down to its original size. Knead for thirty seconds on a lightly floured surface until smooth and divide into 12 even portions. Shape each portion into a ball. Place balls onto lined tray, about one centimetre apart. Cover with cling film and again, set aside in a warm, draught free place for thirty minutes or until the buns double in size. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees Celsius.
Make the flour paste by mixing the flour and water together in a small bowl until smooth; add more flour and/or water as necessary. Spoon into a snap lock sandwich bag, snip off a corner of the bag and pipe the flour paste over the top of the buns. Bake for 20-25 minutes , or until the buns sound hollow when tapped.
Make the glaze by combining the water and sugar in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir until sugar dissolves and bring to the boil. Boil for three to four minutes. Brush warm glaze over the warm hot cross buns. Serve warm with lots of butter!
Buns are their best when fresh, or slice them in half and wrap firmly in cling film before feeezing. Frozen buns will last up to a weekend best way to reheat them is on an open sandwich press! 😉