Friday, December 31, 2004

Hot Cross Buns

Credit: CJorsch Wikimedia Commons
3 3/4 to 4 cups all purpose flour
2 packages active dry yeast or 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup cooking oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
3 eggs
3/4 cup dried currants or raisins

  1. In large mixer bowl, thoroughly stir together 1 1/2 cups of the flour, the yeast, and the cinnamon.
  2. In a saucepan, heat together milk, oil, sugar, and salt just till warm (115 to 120 F.). Add to dry mixture in mixer bowl; add eggs. Beat at low speed of electric mixer for 1/2 minute, scraping sides of bowl constantly. Beat 3 minutes at high speed.
  3. By hand, stir in currants and enough of the remaining flour to make a moderately soft dough. Cover and let rise till double, 1 to 1/2 hours.
  4. 4. Stir dough down. Shape dough into 14 balls. Place on greased baking sheet, 1 1/2 inches apart. Cover and let rise till dough is nearly double, 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. Bake in 375 oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly; pipe crosses through pastry tube or bag with using white icing or a powdered sugar glaze.
My mother makes these at Easter, and sometimes, at Christmas. The recipe is originally from Better Homes and Gardens, March 1973. The original recipe suggests making 24 buns; I like them slightly larger, so I usually make 16 to 18. I tend to use a candy thermometer to check the temperature of the milk and oil solution, and I use a generous 1 and a half teaspoons of cinnamon. I also use more currants; the original called for 1/3 cup. It also called for brushing the buns with a beaten egg white before baking; I don't bother. I often use put the balls of dough into greased muffin tins.

These freeze quite well.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Shaker Lemon Pie


2 large lemons (or 5–6 small ones)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs, well beaten
1 teaspoon of vanilla
prepared pie crust for a double-crust pie


  1. Slice the lemons cross-wise (to make circles), rind and all, as thinly as possible, removing seeds as they appear. It's more important that the slices are thin than that the slices are perfect circles.
  2. Place the lemon slices in a bowl, alternating a layer of lemons with one of sugar. Mix the two. Let the sugar-and-lemons mixture stand in a refrigerator at least three hours, overnight if possible. Stir occasionally.
  3. Line a pie pan with half the pastry.
  4. Mix the four eggs and the vanilla with the lemons and sugar, then pour into the pie crust.
  5. Cover and seal the pie with the remaining pastry. Make small vents in the top crust.
  6. Cook the pie for fifteen minutes in a pre-heated oven at 450 F. then reduce the temperature to 375 F. and cook for about another 25–35 minutes, or until the blade of a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.


Thinner-skinned, sweeter lemons, work best; I prefer Persian lemons, or Meyer's lemons. Limes can also be good. A serrated knife may work best for slicing the lemons thinly. The pie is even better served slightly warm.

The "authentic" Shaker pie doesn't use vanilla; I think it adds a nice touch, but I've also used vanilla sugar. I suspect that the Shakers favored this recipe because it doesn't waste any of the lemons; only the seeds are discarded.