Today is Good Friday, and I’m thinking that maybe Good Friday is my most favourite day of the year. I know; it’s a big call. But think about it, what other day of the year can you spend an hour having a pot of tea in bed? Stay in your pyjamas ’till 12 o’clock and bake hot cross buns from scratch (still in your PJs)?
Life is so hectic, but I don’t want to feed that ‘I’m SO busy’ rhetoric, so I’ll just move right on. But I love that there are no shops open, no restaurants, no pubs, no supermarkets open… no reason to leap out of bed and rush out of the house – like we all do, every other day of the year.
Today, our front door stays shut (mostly).
And, I love that it is so clearly Autumn. There is something so lovely about hearing the soft patter of rain outside and knowing you don’t have to go out in it. But also knowing that if you do go out in it, the air doesn’t have that winter bite yet. Then, even better, the sun often comes out. Like it has today.
But my most favourite part of Good Friday is my annual tradition of baking hot cross buns, from scratch. Since I’ve started doing this I have been resisting the early purchase of supermarket hot cross buns. I was one of ‘those’ who would buy them in January when they first land on the supermarket shelves – such is my love for Hot Cross Buns. But now I wait. Since making my own I’ve realised how truly nasty those supermarket ones can be. So I eat them once a year, on Good Friday, and they are made by yours truly.
(I don’t want to be bossy, but seriously, do yourself a favour and don’t buy those supermarket ones. Spend an extra few bucks and get some from a proper bakery.)
So everyone was dagging around in their PJs while I baked. The process is slow, which is why I love it so much. You are forced to wait. The initial mixing and kneading doesn’t take too long – ten or 15 minutes, but then you need to prove the dough. That can take between 40 minutes to an hour. To see the dough all puffed up like a lovely cinnamon-y cloud makes all the waiting worthwhile. Then that gorgeous feeling of knocking it down, ready for the second lot of proving.
The dough feels so soft when I roll it in my hands into little balls for what will become the buns.
Each cross has to be added by hand. I love that they are not perfect. My seven year old was super-impressed. So that’s good enough for me.
Then, into the oven. The house fills with the distinctive smell of baking bread, but made even more delicious by the smell of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. The whole house smells of Autumnal gorgeousness. When they come out of the oven I paint them with a sugary syrup.
And then, of course, we eat them.
So these were ready to eat just after 12. But I when I bit into that bun, I can tell you honestly, I’d happily wait all day for that taste, texture and temperature.
I love to slow down, to take stock, savour the vast emptiness of a day stretching in front of me – with only food to worry about.