Happy Easter! My family is very Polish. Think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” but with short, stout, very pale people. We’re so short that my 5’11” husband is actually considered “really tall” in our family. I am third generation Polish, so many traditions are still very present in our holiday celebrations.
Dave is Irish, so therefore Casimir is half Polish, half Irish heritage. Dave and his family don’t really incorporate any Irish traditions into their holidays, but I want Caz to have some insight into his Irish heritage. We East Coast Poles are pretty pushy and Dave is from the Midwest, so I don’t want that part of him to get lost in the craziness.
I tried to find some information on Irish Easter traditions on Pinterest to no avail, so switched to Google with some more success. I found a pretty informative website called Irish Central and found out that a traditional food on Easter are Hot Cross Buns. Food–something stout Poles like us can all agree on! The website even provided a recipe for the buns which I used with a few tweaks.
I am not much of a baker, but my mother is superb. We stayed the weekend at my parents, so I felt comfortable that Dave and I could tackle the buns under her tutelage. Actually, Dave is a pretty good baker as well, but neither of us have not really done the yeast bread type of baking.
My mom had a few tips I never would have known to do to get the best possible rise from the yeast.
First big tip: “Prove” the yeast by mixing it in lukewarm water. Setting the mixture aside and seeing if it rises let’s you know if the yeast you have is good or not. She said to touch it once it’s all puffed up. I’m not really sure what she was looking for, but to me it felt like the consistency of whipped cream, so I guess that’s what it should be like!
Second big tip: When adding flour to the yeast, egg, butter mixture, start with two cups of flour. Mix these two cups in thoroughly until dissolved. She said this is the gluten phase. It activates the gluten in flour and this helps with improving the rise of the dough.
Third big tip: Knead the dough for at least 10 minutes! Kneading helps fully develop the gluten. (Sorry gluten free people) This video shows a techique that my mom taught me growing up. Don’t forget to flour your kneading surface first!
Dave and I did all of these techniques and I think our Hot Cross Buns came out amazing!
2 cups scalded milk (Put milk on medium heat until a film forms on top)
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 packs dry yeast, dissolved in 1/3 cup lukewarm water
8 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups dried currants
1 tsp cinnamon
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Pour scalded milk over butter and sugar, stirring to dissolve. Cool to lukewarm. After proving, add the yeast mixture and beaten eggs. Mix well. Gradually add the flour and salt. Start with quickly stirring in two cups of flour until dissolved. Then add the rest of the flour a cup at a time. Use a small amount of flour to dust the currants.
Add cinnamon and floured currants to the dough and knead thoroughly for at least 10 minutes. Place in buttered bowl, cover and let rise until doubled. Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a floured surface. Shape dough into 30 buns and place on buttered cookie sheets.
Cover and let rise 30 minutes, then very carefully press the shape of a cross into each bun, using a spatula or the back of a knife. Bake in a 375 degree oven for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking until buns are browned, about 10 to 15 minutes longer. Frost.
2 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla
Beat egg white until stiff, adding confectioners’ sugar until mixture is thick. Add vanilla and lemon juice. If frosting is to thin, add more confectioners’ sugar.
Enjoy! We definitely will be adding this to our Easter Traditions in the future!