I live in an interfaith household, which means in spring we celebrate both Passover and Easter. That means lots of cooking.
This week Dorothy Earley from Onanole is hoping someone might have a recipe for the best hot cross buns she's ever tasted, first published in the Western Producer in the 1950s. She's lost her copy, and while she realizes this is a longshot, she hopes a Recipe Swap reader might have clipped it.
In the meantime, I have a recipe from Edna Mroz for her family's version of the traditional Easter treat.
Jill Greenwood sent in a recipe for sweet-and-sour brisket. This slow-cooked beef cut is a Jewish favourite all year round, but if you want to make it strictly kosher for Passover, you'll need to find vinegar, ketchup and Worcestershire sauce that fall under the "kosher for Passover" designation.
Meanwhile, Shirley Fillion from Portage la Prairie wonders if anyone has a recipe that appeared on the bottle of VH Sweet and Sour Sauce for breaded spare ribs. If you can help with a recipe request, have your own request, or a favourite recipe you'd like to share, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, fax it to 697-7412, or write to Recipe Swap, c/o Alison Gillmor, Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave. Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Please include your first and last name, address and telephone number.
Hot cross buns
30 ml (2 tbsp) butter
250 ml (1 cup) water
125 ml (1/2 cup) whole milk
60 ml (1/4 cup) white sugar
5 ml (1 tsp) salt
15 ml (1 tbsp) instant (quick-rise) yeast
1 egg, beaten
approximately 1.2 L (5 cups) all-purpose flour, divided
10 ml (2 tsp) cinnamon
2 ml (1/2 tsp) allspice
2 ml (1/2 tsp) cloves
175 ml (3/4 cup) raisins or currants
125 ml (1/2 cup) chopped mixed candied fruit
30 ml (2 tbsp) white sugar
30 ml (2 tbsp) hot water
250 ml (1 cup) icing sugar
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Add water and milk and heat to lukewarm (50-55 C or 120-130 F). In a large bowl, mix sugar, salt and yeast. Add lukewarm mixture, beat in egg and beat until smooth. Combine 750 ml (3 cups) flour with spices. Stir in raisins and mixed fruit. Add flour mixture to yeast mixture. Combine well. Add additional flour until a soft, not sticky dough is formed. On a lightly floured surface, knead for 8-10 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. (Some additional flour might be required.) Form dough into a ball, place in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for 15 minutes. Punch down. Let rise again for 15 minutes and punch down again. Shape dough into 24 slightly flattened balls. Place on two greased baking sheets. With sharp knife, cut crosses on top of buns. Cover and let rise in warm place for 60 minutes.
Bake in a 190 C (375 F) oven for 15 minutes and then brush with glaze. (Make glaze by stirring together sugar and water until sugar is dissolved.) Continue baking until done, about 5-10 minutes longer. Glaze buns again when removed from the oven. Crosses can be filled with white icing when buns are cool. (Make icing by combining icing sugar with just enough water to make a spreadable consistency.) Makes 2 dozen.
Tester's notes: Very satisfying to make and much better than store-bought versions I've tried. Hot cross buns can be dense and scone-like or light and feathery. I found these were in-between, with a soft, slightly chewy texture.
Edna bakes her buns at 160 F (325 F) because she finds they darken too quickly at the higher temperature. I also found my batch did better on the rack placed in the top two-thirds of the oven. Watch carefully to find the perfect spot between nicely browned and over-baked. I also found my buns spread a little too much, so I wouldn't flatten them next time.
My household is divided on the question of candied fruit, so I upped the quantity of currants and added fresh orange and lemon zest for flavour. Some bakers make the traditional crosses with a baked-on flour paste or baked pastry strips. Others pipe a plain white icing on the cooled buns.
Sweet and sour brisket
2.25-2.75 kg (5-6 lb.) brisket
2 onions, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
175 ml (3/4 cup) brown sugar
125 ml (1/2 cup) vinegar
250 ml (1 cup) ketchup
250 ml (1 cup) water
15 ml (1 tbsp) Worcestershire sauce
15 ml (1 tbsp) salt
ground pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 175 C (350 F). In a roasting dish or Dutch oven, place onions and garlic. Place brisket on top. In small bowl, mix together brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup, water and seasonings. Pour over brisket. Cover and roast until tender, approximately 4 hours. Cut meat into slices against the grain and pour sauce over top.
Tester's notes: Very easy and tasty. If the sauce becomes too thick in the last stages of cooking, you can thin with a little hot water. And brisket can be a handy make-ahead dish -- just slice the meat and reheat in the sauce.