Beach plum hot cross buns with a cordial & nutmeg glaze
On Easter Sunday, I will be the matriarch of the holiday for the first time in my new home. My sister and two friends will travel out to our little red salt box on the tip of the Cape from Boston and gather around the table with my boyfriend and me. Our dog, Fisher, will surely hunker down underneath, praying for accidents.
It is a strange rite of passage—this first out of the nest holiday—and one focused mainly on the delights of the table. Sitting down in front of the wood stove this morning, I began composing a menu: goat cheese and leek frittata, fruit salad, curried lamb, hot cross buns. Peppermint tea, coffee, and cranberry cordial mimosas also graced the list.
It was the hot cross buns that garnered my immediate attention. I remembered running up and down the stairs of Wild Oats Bakery—where I worked as a girl—with tray upon tray of frosted buns each spring, stealing a lick or two of the delicate frosting as I carried the pans back down to the dish room. It has been a rare Easter that I have gone without the bakery’s buns; they were considered a staple on my mother’s table.
I considered calling the bakery to ask for the recipe; deciding against the idea, I paged through several cookbooks. Finally, with the variations piled up beside me I began crafting my own. The basic ingredients of the Joy of Cooking I liked: milk, butter, eggs, yeast, and flour, but the sugar and the spiced currant flavoring I could do without.
When I came upon the beach plum cordial tucked back into a dark corner of the refrigerator, I knew I had found the perfect Cape addition. The cordial—made from plums picked at Ryder Beach last fall—was well seasoned. The sugar had dissolved into the vodka, and the still intact fruit bobbed softly in the deep violet liquid. With jar in hand, I set to work dropping berries into a trial batch.
The resulting buns had a sumptuous gold crust, flecked inside with violet streaks and a rich nutmeg brown and crossed with a glaze of cordial and honey. A new Cape tradition...
BEACH PLUM HOT CROSS BUNS WITH A CORDIAL & NUTMEG GLAZE
Makes 12 buns
Proof 2 and 1/4 teaspoons yeast in 3 tablespoons warm water. When dissolved, add 1 cup warm whole milk, 5 tablespoons melted butter, 1 fresh egg, 3 tablespoons honey, and 1 teaspoon salt. Mix well.
Add 3 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour gradually. Pit and add thirty beach plums (either from cordial, or soaked for several days in a small pool of vodka and sugar). Jam may work as well, or dried cranberries boiled in spices and sugar. Sprinkle in 2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg, and knead dough well.
Let rise in a ball in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size. Punch down and knead into balls about half the size you wish the baked buns to be. Arrange on baking sheet in rows; let rise again. Preheat oven to 375 degrees; bake 15-20 minutes.
CORDIAL & NUTMEG GLAZE
Heat 2 tablespoons butter with 1 teaspoon nutmeg in a sauce pan over low heat. Add 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons honey, and a splash of beach plum cordial (substitute other cordial or sweet wine as needed). Stir until sugar is dissolved; add more to thicken. Pour in shape of cross over cool buns. Let dry and serve.