Easter eggs & hot cross buns

Easter eggs & hot cross buns

Think of Easter and the first thing that comes to mind is the Easter egg. The exchange of the colourful and decorative egg is a Western concept and tradition, which is found to be practised on a small scale in Bangalore because of the British influence.

In the past, eggs were forbidden to Catholics during the fast of Lent, which was the reason for the abundance of eggs at Easter time. The precise origin of the ancient custom of colouring eggs is not known, although evidently the blooming of many flowers in spring coincides with the use of the fertility symbol of eggs — and eggs boiled with some flowers change their colour, bringing spring into homes.

 The Easter eggs which you find in some Bangalore bakeries are oval-shaped hollow shells of sugar icing and can be as large as ostrich eggs. The hollow portion is filled with chocolates, edible gems and other goodies. Children are told that the Easter Bunny hides the eggs for them to find and enjoy! Children then hunt for the eggs in the house and in the garden. Easter Bunny is to Easter what Santa Claus is to Christmas.

Legend has it that the Easter Bunny brings baskets filled with colourful eggs, candy and sometimes toys to the homes of children on the night before Easter. The Easter Bunny either puts the baskets in a designated place or hides them somewhere in the house or garden for the children to find when they wake up in the morning.

The Easter Bunny has its origins in Germany. The first edible Easter bunnies, like the gingerbread man, were made out of pastry and sugar in Germany during the early 1800s.
Easter eggs (for children)

Ingredients: 1 cup icing sugar; 2 egg whites whipped; food colour of your choice.
Method: Take a bowl, put icing sugar in it and stir it, while adding the egg whites little by little until it becomes a soft dough. Add colour to the dough. Apply a thin layer of the dough on both the halves of an egg mould. Fill the hollow portion with chocolates and gems. Close the two halves of the mould and allow it to dry and harden. Gently open the mould to get your Easter egg. Decorate the egg with traditional motifs.

Indian-style Easter eggs
Ingredients: Six boiled eggs; 1/4 kg potatoes boiled and mashed; 1 handful of palak, boiled and pureed; 1 onion finely chopped; 1 green chilly finely chopped; 1/2 tsp garlic-ginger paste; 1/2 cup bread crumbs; 1/2 tsp pepper powder, salt to taste.
Method: Cut boiled eggs into halves (lengthwise) and remove yolks. In a pan take 1 tbsp of oil and fry chopped onions. Add green chilly, pepper powder, salt and half the mashed potatoes and keep aside.

To the rest of the potatoes add a pinch of salt, pepper powder and mix with palak puree. Put this as stuffing in the hollow portion of the egg and close the egg.
Coat the egg with the fried ingredients and the bread crumbs and then deep fry it.

Hot cross buns
Another time-honoured tradition during the Easter season is the making of hot cross buns.  In many Christian countries, buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, with the cross standing as a symbol of the crucifixion. The tradition of hot cross buns came to Bangalore with the British and continues to this day. Many bakeries bake hot cross buns, which are in great demand. A hot cross bun is a type of sweet-spiced bun made with currants or raisins and leavened with yeast. It has a cross marked on the top, which might be effected in one of a variety of ways including pastry, flour and water mixture, rice paper, icing, or intersecting cuts.

Hot cross buns are believed by some to pre-date Christianity. It is believed that buns marked with a cross were eaten by Saxons in honour of the goddess Eostre. Here the cross symbolised the four quarters of the moon. ‘Eostre’ is probably the origin of the word ‘Easter’. Others claim that the Greeks marked cakes with a cross, much earlier.
 In Bangalore, many people not only eat hot cross buns, but also share them with their neighbours as a symbol of friendship and brotherhood. Because of the cross on the buns, some say they should be kissed before being eaten.

Hot cross buns are a traditional favourite for Good Friday, Easter and throughout the Lent season, but they are enjoyable year-round. If you are in the habit of baking cakes, biscuits and bread at home than you can try this recipe to make 16 buns.

Ingredients: 1 1/2 cups warm milk; 2 tsp dried yeast; 1/4 cup powdered sugar; 60g butter melted; 1 egg, lightly whisked; 4 1/2 cups plain flour; 1 tsp salt; 3 tsp mixed spice; 1 cup sultanas; 1/4 cup currants; 1/4 cup mixed peel; 1/3 cup cold water.
Method: 1. Combine the milk, yeast and 1 tbsp of sugar in a small bowl. Set aside in a warm place for 10 minutes. Combine the milk mixture, butter and egg in a jug and whisk to combine.
2. Combine 4 cups of flour, salt, mixed spice and remaining sugar in a bowl. Add the sultanas, currants and mixed peel and stir to combine. Pour in the milk mixture and then use your hands to bring the dough.
3. Knead for 10-15 minutes or until smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth. Place in a warm place for an hour or until the dough doubles in size.
4. Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Grease a baking pan. Punch the dough down with your fist. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes or until dough is smooth.
5. Divide dough into 16 even pieces and shape each portion into a ball. Arrange dough portions, side by side, in the prepared pan. Set aside in a warm place for 30 minutes or until dough has risen double in size.
6. Meanwhile, mix the remaining flour and water together in a small bowl until a smooth paste forms. Roll the dough with your hands and make thin strips to form crosses. Fix the crosses on each bun.
7. Preheat oven to 200°C. Bake in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 180°C and bake till it is done. Buns are ready when they sound hollow when tapped on the base.
8. Place the buns on a wire rack to cool.

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