What to make when Purim & Easter (almost) coincide? Hot Magen David buns of course!
I’ve often noted how British Jews have adopted and adapted British (Christian) food traditions, largely without a second thought. No-one would look askance at a Jewish family tucking into turkey and mince pies in December, or making pancakes on pancake day (Shrove Tuesday). However, there’s one delicious traditional treat which has not been taken up so enthusiastically by the Jewish community – hot cross buns.
It’s not hard to see why. They can be as fruity and spicy and delicious as you like, but there’s no avoiding the massive edible symbol of Christianity piped onto the top of them. Even a not-very-observant Jew might feel a little uncomfortable, scoffing one down with lashings of butter.
And as if that wasn’t enough, hot cross buns are an Easter treat, and Easter is most usually associated with Pesach. And there’s no way on Earth you could make an unleavened HCB! These are fully leavened, all the way through.
BUT, this year, Pesach is late, and Easter coincides (almost) with Purim – a festival of joyous eating AND of mixing-things-up and playing around with them. What could be more perfect for the occasion than a hot Magen David bun?!
These buns are rich, fruity, spicy and delicious, and each one sports a magnificent Magen David on its golden, shiny top. I would be ecstatic to receive one of these in my mishloach manot! I might make another batch and arrange them into a pull-apart challah for our ‘Easter weekend’ Shabbat meals 🙂
If you have a stand mixer, these are trivial to make, although as with any yeasted bake there’s a bit of sitting around waiting for them to rise. The hardest bit is piping on the Magen Davids, but even that’s not too tricky once you get your hand in. Practise a couple on a plate before you start on the buns, and all will be fine.
These buns are wonderful hot from the oven, or warm with butter. Or cold. Or split and toasted and spread with butter and honey. Oh yum. To be honest, you can put just about anything on them, they’ll still be delicious.
I made my hot Magen David buns parve, but you can easily substitute butter and milk for the margarine and soy milk. It’s never going to hurt, is it?
One final thing – you are quite at liberty to leave the tops of the buns bare and call them “not cross buns”, or you can decorate them with the religious symbol of your choice, like these lovely multicultural buns from Kavey Eats, or, you could put any symbol you like on there. I quite fancy an ampersand bun…
Makes 12 hot Magen David buns.
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- 125ml milk or non-dairy alternative e.g. soya milk
- 125ml hot (not boiling) water
- 2 tsp dried yeast (6g)
- 500g plain flour
- 75g caster sugar
- Pinch salt
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 0.5 tsp ground cinnamon
- 0.5 tsp vanilla extract
- 60g margarine or butter
- 1 egg
- 100g dried fruit - I used a mixture of raisins and dried cranberries
- Finely grated zest of an orange
- 50g plain flour
- 50ml water
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp hot water
- Combine the milk and hot water in a jug. The liquid should be hand-hot - test this by sticking your finger in it! Once it is at the right temperature, add the yeast and whisk in to dissolve. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour, sugar, salt, mixed spice and cinnamon. Once the yeast/milk mixture is foamy, add to the bowl and set the motor running a low speed to combine. Add the vanilla, margarine/butter and egg, and continue to mix until a dough is formed.
- After about five minutes, add the dried fruit and orange zest. Continue to mix for a further five minutes, until the dough is smooth and silky. It may still be a little sticky.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead for a minute or two by hand to ensure that the fruit is evenly distributed throughout the dough. Return to the bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel, and leave in a warm place for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
- Knock back the dough and knead very briefly. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
- Divide into 12 equal pieces and form each one into a round bun. Place the buns onto the lined baking sheet, leaving space for them to rise. Cover again and leave to rise for a further 30-40 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 200C.
- To make the magen davids, mix the flour and water together to give a thick but runny paste. Spoon into a zip-lock bag or greaseproof icing bag, and snip a tiny hole in one corner.
- Carefully pipe a magen david onto the top of each bun.
- Bake the buns at 200C for 15 minutes, until risen and golden brown.
- Just before the buns are cooked, mix together the honey and hot water to make the glaze.
- Remove the buns from the oven, and quickly brush the glaze all over them.
- Allow the buns to cool on a wire rack, then serve them warm, cold, or toasted, with plenty of butter.