I almost got through Lent without making Hot Cross Buns. Iâ€™ve been very excited about English muffins, and they were sort of taking care of my need to make something small and bready and wonderful before Easter. But then I read this post by Tami Weiser and since I am mildly superstitious, I had to make some. And then some more.
â€œGreat friendships are said to be sealed over a shared bun, and baking and eating them atavistically protects you from getting the evil eye,â€ she wrote on The Kitchn.
Those words got me baking, same as some other words got me baking in June 1998. My son Francis was just born, and I was reading Frank McCourtâ€™s memoir. The thought of the authorâ€™s twin siblings potentially going to purgatory because they died unbaptized made me concoct a backyard ceremony.
My husband is a multigenerational agnostic, and I am a lapsed Catholic. I wasnâ€™t interested in baptism until I read the book. Jack went along with my plan, and asked a friend who lived in a former matzo factory to bring water from the once-blessed pipes.
We invited friends, and I made loads of hot cross buns, and I said something silly and stabbing at eternity and protection. The day was sunny and there was dew on the grass.
Now my kid is almost 18. I gave some buns to friends, in gratitude and in superstition, trying to seal my pals to me: they are so dear.
Here is a hint of how I made mine from Tami Weiserâ€™s recipe: I cut the sugar to Â¼ cup, and upped the cinnamon to 2 teaspoons. I skipped the zest because I forgot it. I used Farmer Ground Flour, both high extraction and spelt, and even people who donâ€™t adore whole grain flours gobbled them up.