Easter is just about here. I know because the supermarkets have been telling me ever since they took the Christmas decorations down and started stuffing the aisles with chocolate eggs. Also, there's a large white marshmallow bunny hiding in the fridge. So in celebration of the season, I decided that this week I would make Hot Cross Bun Cupcakes. Here's the recipe, courtesy of that most esteemed of publications, Cupcakes: a fine selection of sweet treats (Murdoch Books).

For the base, you will need:
250g SR flour
3 tsp ground cinnamon
125g chopped unsalted butter, softened
125g sultanas
45g mixed peel
170g caster sugar
185 ml milk
2 eggs

For the topping, you will need:
2 tsp pectin
2 tbsp caster sugar
60g icing sugar
lemon juice

This is what you do:
1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C and line your cupcake tins with paper cases.

2. Sift the flour and cinnamon into a big bowl. Add the soft chopped butter and rub until the mixture looks like bread crumbs.

3. Add the sultanas, mixed peel and sugar. Make a well in the centre.

4. Whisk the milk and eggs together and then pour the mixture into the well.

5. Mix together until just combined. It should look a bit lumpy.

6. Spoon the batter into the cupcake cases and put in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until golden brown.

7. While the cupcakes are cooling, make the glaze. Put the pectin powder, sugar and a couple of teaspoons of water into a suacepan. Cook over the heat until dissolved.

8. Brush the glaze over the cupcakes and allow to cool.

9. To make the icing, mix the icing sugar and lemon juice until smooth. Spoon the icing into an icing bag and pipe a cross on each cupcake.

Makes about 20 cupcakes.

So I've been doing a little bit of research on Easter and something that caught my attention was this reading from Corinthians: Get rid of the old yeast so that you may be a new batch without yeast - as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb has been sacrificed.

Apparently, (according to Wikipedia, anyway), this is a reference to not allowing yeast in the house for Passover. I was reading somewhere else (a celebrity e-newsletter I subscribe to - yes I know my sources aren't great), that leavened bread represents our selfish ego, that thing which rises up, all overblown and proud, and overshadows the needs of others. By removing the yeast from our bread, we have a chance to decide what puffed-up, self-important stuff we want to remove from our lives.

I guess this reading from Corinthians struck a chord with me, not only because of the baking analogy, but because it made me realise that there's been a fair bit of yeast in my life lately. I'm obviously talking metaphorically here, and not about candida. OK, so that clarified, I hereby pledge that I am going to try to unleaven my life so that I may be a new batch, as I really am. 

Just a random thought here - someone needs to send a memo to Coles and Woolies about their hot cross buns. Those bad boys look like they have so much yeast in them they might pop as soon as you glance sideways at them.

And the random recipient is...

OK, so just to set the scene, I was attending this workshop today on how to relate to people who are grieving and other pastoral care stuff like that. This workshop was put on by the hospital for their volunteers and the speaker was the hospital chaplain.

Originally, my plan had been to hit the pavement after the workshop and find my random recipient on the street. But during the workshop, the thought occurred to me, what better person could there be to receive my random cupcake than the chaplain lady herself? I know she wasn't a random stranger, per se, although it has to be pointed out that prior to the workshop, I had never met her before. So I think she meets the criteria (which I haven't written down anywhere, but whatever). Anyway, her name is Stephanie and she's very un-chaplain like. I always imagine hospital chaplains to be crusty old dudes with lots of liver spots and thinning hair, crouched over in black robes, kind of like a cross between a vulture and the Mr Burns character in The Simpsons (but a bit less Macchiavellian). OK OK, so I'm clearly exaggerating here, but you get my drift.

When I told Stephanie about my random cupcake gig she laughed and said "God bless you!", which is kind of nice because even though I'm an agnostic, it's always good to have some spiritual insurance. She also said that I'd made her day, which is good to hear. I like that I helped make someone else's day.

Anyway, so here's Stephanie, my fifth random recipient! Happy Easter to you, Stephanie, and to anyone out there who is reading this little blog.
Chris Schwarz
31/3/2010 18:13:49

What a great take on hot cross buns.
Marshmallow bunnies-I remember getting one of these as a very small girl and crying at the thought of biting into it, it looked so real. By the time my greed overcame my qualms the marshmallow was so stale it was inedible. Not sure what life lesson I learned there-repress your qualms as quickly as possible, perhaps- but I still cringe when I see them at Easter and despite the fact I love marshmallow I have never bitten into one again.
Ha ha, enjoy yours, though, sorry about the pathos

Melanie Schwarz
1/4/2010 05:55:35

Hi Alex
Thanks for Lennox's first cupcake. Mum didn't mind giving one to him, but I had to wrestle a couple of them off her for myself. They were delicious, Lennox devoured the whole thing and we got some good photos. Great blog too, I'll keep reading.

Ralph Folds
1/4/2010 05:58:41

So good we're all fighting over them.

Chris Schwarz
1/4/2010 06:00:24

Not sure if this is in the right spirit of random acts of cupcake.
But they're so delicious we can't help it.


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