You may have eaten several hot cross buns already this year but have you tried an Alban Bun? I’ve heard lots about the Alban Bun but never tried one made to the original recipe. The Alban Bun is supposedly the original hot cross bun, first produced in the 14th century by a monk at St Albans Abbey, in England, called Brother Thomas Rocliffe. The legend goes that the buns were first handed out to the local poor of St Albans on Good Friday in 1361.
The Alban Bun is shaped by hand and a cross is made on the top of the bun by making two cuts with a knife. The cross symbolises death and resurrection and this is why the buns are eaten during Lent through until Easter Monday. The original recipe for the Alban Bun is top secret but ingredients are supposed to include flour, eggs, fresh yeast, currants and grains of paradise or cardamom.
I am no Bake Off contestant and so in my attempts to make an Alban Bun that is easy to do with the kids I have simplified things and done away with the yeast as no-one can get hold of at the moment anyway! These Easy Alban Buns (which are more like a rock cake than a hot cross bun) are simple to make and quick to bake which makes them perfect for kids who are keen to help in the kitchen. If you want to try and make my version of the Easy Alban Bun read on…
Ingredients for Easy Alban Buns
To make eight buns you will need:
- 125 self raising flour
- 60g butter
- 100g currants
- 30g caster sugar
- 1 large egg
- cardamom spice drops (optional)
How To Make Easy Alban Buns
First turn the oven on and preheat to 200°C or equivalent. Cover a baking tray with baking parchment and leave it to one side. Now you can measure the flour and the butter into a bowl. Gently rub the butter into the flour and keep going until you have a crumbly mix that looks a bit like bread crumbs. Next add the currants and the sugar to the bowl and stir the ingredients together.
Then break the egg into a bowl or a jug and add four or five drops of cardamom spice drops. Whisk the egg and cardamom together and then pour it into the bowl of dry ingredients. Gently mix the egg in and when the ingredients begin to come together in a dough you can use your hands to bring the mixture together.
With your hands, or with a knife, divide the dough into 8 balls and place them on the baking sheet. Then take a knife and press into the top of each ball of dough to create a cross.
Pop the buns in the oven for 15-20 minutes. When they are golden in colour take them out of the oven and let them cool.
Enjoy your Easy Alban Buns with a glass of milk or a warm drink. The cardamom ensures that the buns are fragrant and sweet, without the need for lots of sugar but since it’s not easy to get hold of ingredients at the moment rest assured that this is an optional extra and the buns are delicious with or without.
These buns don’t last long in our house and you can see why the humble bun that Brother Thomas created hundreds and hundreds of years ago continues to be enjoyed years and years later.
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