Another staple for the Easter holidays is the hot cross bun and here in Orange Walk, the tradition has been upheld by a few great bakers. Here the bun is a spiced sweet bun made with raisins and marked with a cross on the top, traditionally eaten on Good Friday. We visited the home of one woman who enjoys making these tasty buns for a quick lesson on how they are made.
The Art of the Hot Cross Bun, a Perennial Easter Treat
You know it’s not Easter in Belize until you’ve had a hot cross bun. The tradition of making cross buns and enjoying them around this time of the year is a part of many households; so much so, that growing up as kids, we would sing the “one a penny, two a penny hot cross bun” jingle. But perhaps what is even more enjoyable than singing the rhyme is eating the bun. Bakeries, snack shops and even homes have been busy making the buns with their signature cross. If you haven’t bought yours as yet, you can make them right at home over the Easter holiday. News Five stopped in at a local take out to learn that making cross buns is easy as one, two, three.
Andrea Polanco, Reporting
Whether you like to eat home-made cross buns plain or with cheese- one thing is for sure, it is part of the Belizean Easter tradition and something that Belizeans look forward to every year. We stopped in at Carmen’s Takeout where hot cross buns were making. The recipe is easy to follow and only needs a couple ingredients.
Cruzita Leslie, Owner, Carmen’s Take Out
“To start with, I put in flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, nut meg, and shortening; stick butter and carnation milk, vanilla and a little lemon essence and then I am ready to knead it with warm water. And this dah the kneading part; the mix up part.”
“So, how long you knead it for?”
“You knead it until you mix up all the flour. You put together all the flour and ingredients. Mix all the ingredients until you make a dough. You knead it good.”
“Sometimes the buns are a little soft and sometimes a little harder?”
“I make it a little harder because you know, cross buns nuh fuh be too spongy, so I make it kinda heavy. And with the brown sugar, it get kinda heavy. Heavier than the regular buns.”
Many Belizeans grew up with the tradition of making or eating cross buns for the Easter, but that wasn’t the reality for Cruzita Leslie. It has only been a few years since she started making the buns, but she has perfected the buns from the recipe she uses.
“About three years now. I just started it about three years.”
“Is it a tradition that you grew up with in your home?”
“No, no. Not a tradition. Until I came to live here at Belize then I found out about this tradition. So, some people are ordering buns and they also want some fry fish along with it. So it’s nearly ready.”
“As someone who makes cross buns, what’s the best way to eat them you’d say?”
“I say with butter and cheese or with your fry fish; tomorrow if you want you can eat it with your fry fish.
“This recipe that you use, is it something that you came up with or was it passed down to by someone?”
“Yeah. It was a recipe that was passed down to me by one of my friends.”
“So it is fairly easy to make at home?”
“Yeah. It is very easy you only need to know the ingredients and it’s an easy way to make buns.”
It’s so easy that you can make a batch right at home. Once the ingredients are properly mixed, the dough reaches a consistency. It is then separated into balls and pressed into shape, and then the symbolic cross is placed on top.
“Then we make the buns.”
“How many buns you planning to make this year?”
“Well, I have quite ah lotta orders. Mostly it will be walk-ins. My customers who come and by food they usually will pick up deh buns too. The kneading part is over and then you make the size of your buns. The size you want them and you flatten them a little and you put yuh cross. You need to leave them to raise for about half an hour when they raise and then you put them in the oven and bake them for about forty minutes and they will be ready.”
“How do you know they are ready; just the time or will they get golden color?”
“Yes, when they get brown and you feel them that they are not soft anymore then they are ready to come out.”
And after they are taken out of the oven, the cross buns are pretty much ready to eat—after they’ve cooled off, of course.
“So, this is the end product.”
“So do you put like a little sugar on top…?”
Cruzita Leslie, Owner, Carmen’s Take Out
“A little glaze, yes. You can use sugar- you melt the sugar, add butter and you can baste the top so that they look shiny and then you have your nice hot cross buns for your Easter.”
1/2 c. Warm Water 2 eggs (beaten) 4 1/2-5 1/2 c. unsifted all-purpose flour 1 tsp sugar 2 pkg. or 2 TB active dry yeast 1 tsp ground cinnamon 1 tsp ground nutmeg ½ tsp vanilla 1 c seedless raisins 1 c milk 1 egg yolk 1/4 c Blue Bonnet margarine 2 TB cold water 1 c sugar, light brown 1/2 tsp salt
1. Measure 1/2 cup warm water into a large bowl. Stir in 1 tsp sugar and active dry yeast. Let stand 10 minutes, then stir well.
2. Meantime, combine milk and margarine in a saucepan. Heat over low heat until liquid is warm and margarine melts.
3. Stir in 1 cup sugar and salt.
4. Add liquid to dissolved yeast.
5. Add ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, vanilla, 2 eggs and 1 1/2 cups flour. Beat until smooth.
6. Stir in an additional 3 1/2 cups (about) flour to make a soft dough.
7. Turn out onto lightly floured board: knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 to 10 minutes.
8. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk. about 1 hour.
9. Punch dough down; turn out onto lightly floured board; knead in raisins.
10. Divide dough into 18 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball; place balls in 2 well-greased 8-inch round cake pans.
11. Combine egg yolk and 2 TB cold water, brush buns with mixture.
12. Cover; let rise warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk. about 1 hour.
13. Carefully cut a cross on the top of each bun with a sharp knife.
14. Bake in moderate oven (375 F ) about 20 to 25 minutes, or until done. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.