The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Easter plans?

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

Easter plans?

Just wondering what everybody is planning to do for Easter? I'm baking Finnish Pulla bread, a braided bread with cardamom and a rosewater sugar glaze on top. Not sure exactly what else is on the menu yet but sure to include some other yummies. Am considering the Blueberry cheese braid with Mascarpone cheese. For eats, perhaps ham and all the traditional stuff. We have an abundance of garden lettuce right now so I'll include a nice salad.

Anyway, just thinking that it would be nice to share some ideas about everyone's traditional holiday bakes. I'm Finnish so I've decided that the Finnish holiday breads are fun and can become part of my heritage. Plus, I can have the grandkids over and they can play in the dough, making their own little braids and rolls.


OldWoodenSpoon's picture

if I can find the time, that is.  Our daughter is flying in, and our son is driving in, so baking time close to Easter will be hard to come by. It might conflict with the traditional family pinnochle tournament!  I want to try hot cross buns though.  Yozzause has gotten me all stirred up with his baking of these buns, and I'm excited to give them a try.  If not for Easter Sunday, then during the week after, but I will get to them some time.

I think we are having pork tenderloin, fresh asparagus since the locals are harvesting now, and yes, a big green salad.  I will, without a doubt, bake Floyd's Buttermilk Cluster though for dinner rolls.


Ileen Raman's picture
Ileen Raman











RobynNZ's picture

Hi Ileen

There are a number of Hot Cross Bun recipes on this site.  I have tested three of them and been very happy with the results. In no special order:

1. Yozza's very good HCB are typical of the HCB I could buy here in New Zealand at a good local bakery , where they make their own HCBs. The dough was very easy to work with and made buns suitable to be eaten fresh from the oven. Note I used neither dough improver or liquid bun spice. See also the comments I left on his blog after I made up his formula, which provide some more details which maybe useful to you.

2. Andy's HCB formula produced very light, soft textured buns which I know will be popular with the people who come to TFL asking for ways of making soft rolls. They were delicious, personally I prefer a 'toothier' texture.

3. Foolish Poolish's sourdough version

As I have commented below to Doc Tracy I really liked these buns, but found the spice and glaze flavour profiles unfamiliar. I will be making them for Good Friday,  just changing the spice blend, and glaze to suit my preference.

Reading through FP's instructions I was a bit surprised by the bulk fermentation and proofing time guidelines. I have been maintaining a 60% starter on the counter and feeding it 12 hourly over the summer. Lean formula breads made with it take much, much less time. This was the first time for me to use sugar or egg or butter with a starter, so I was unsure what to expect. Following FP's information, proofing the buns overnight would have been the way to go, but I felt I needed to keep an eye on them during the proof stage. That would mean bulk fermenting overnight with folds at regular intervals. So I decided to start the bulk fermentation and then delay it in the fridge overnight. In the end the bulk fermentation under warm conditions took a total of ten hours (plus 7 hours in the fridge)  and the proof took 8 hours. In each case the development was rapid over the final hour or so. Next time I'll have the confidence to leave them to proof overnight ready for baking in the morning.

I purchased some HCB yesterday from the bakehouse which won NZ's 2010 HCB contest. They were made with both sourdough and yeast and are very good. Still I'm happy to take the time and follow FP's formula.

I like the following piping mix for the crosses (more than enough for 16 buns x approx 65grams, made from a final dough of about 1kg): 60g flour, 1/4 tsp baking powder, 1 tablespoon oil, 60mls water. Mix to a thick pipeable batter, pipe from a plastic bag with a corner cut off. Don't cut off too much, you don't really want wide crosses. These crosses cook as part of the bun and are tasty.

btw  I use brown sugar as I like the HCB to be 'spicy' coloured. I have also decided that I like the total dried fruit to be around 20% (baker's %) for me that's not too much or too few. When I roll the buns I remove any dried fruit from the outside and tuck it under the roll, they are inclined to burn otherwise.

There is an excellent video of Mark Sinclair shaping rolls; if you are not familar how to do it, check out his video. Many of the HCB I have seen on the internet look as though they have been rolled between two hands, not on the bench, and they look like cakes not buns.

They are all excellent formula I hope one of them will suit you.

Regards Robyn

RobynNZ's picture

Hi there Doc Tracy

Over the last couple of weeks, I have enjoyed testing a number of Hot Cross Bun recipes, several of them from TFL. Since I have been working with sourdough, I had the feeling that my favourite commercial HCB probably had sourdough in them. Using the recipe Foolish Poolish posted on TFL for sourdough HCB, I was very pleased with the resulting texture and confirmed my supposition. However I was not so fond of the flavour from the spices or the glaze.

Amongst his spice blend he uses cardamon, having only cardamon pods on hand, I ground some seeds. While I like cardamon, it is not used here in NZ in HCB (here some combination of one, some or all of the following is used: cinnamon, mixed spice, allspice, nutmeg, cloves) so whether by grinding the seeds I made it OTT or whether it was a matter of an unfamilar taste in a HCB, I'm not sure. I wondered what bakers % of cardamon you use in your Pulla?

The glaze included rosewater and it too was overwhelming to me. Again I am not familar with use of rosewater in a glaze so was interested to see you use it in your Pulla glaze. What proportions do you use in your glaze?

For Easter I will make Foolish Poolish's sourdough HCB but plan to use the spice blend and glaze which I usually use for yeasted HCB. Nevertheless I am still a bit intrigued by the use of cardamon and rosewater, and had wondered about their origin.

Here in NZ it is now autumn and HCB are more suited to the season than Easter foods with spring references.

Regards, Robyn

Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

I'm not sure I've ever had Hot Cross Buns.

Cardomom is used widely in Scandanavian baking. I also came across small references to rosewater. The rose water I use very lightly , just a hint of essence in the glaze. When adding the rosewater try adding so little that you can't even taste it, than just one more drop. As far as the baker's percent on the cardamom, I have no idea. I'd have to pull up the recipe. I used the recipe from All, which is a very nice recipe. It's a small amount of cardamom. I find too much cardamom makes it a little bitter and tingly on the tongue. I went according to the recipe this. (it seems to me this recipe might be volume measured rather than weight)

For braiding, I found a wonderful video, done by a Finnish woman (in engllsh) showing other Finnish women how to braid their Pullas. I also compared to many Jewish challahs, as the technique is identical. The Finnish video really helped with dough handling. I'm sure on a google search that this was the first (maybe only) video that came up if you type in How to braid a Finnish Pulla Bread.

I was curious as to why  Indian spices would be so prevalent  in a culture so far north but aparently when the Vikings were taking over Europe they discovered cardamom and other Indian spices down in the Roman empire and exported it to Scandanavia, where they became very popular.

When my mother was a child in Northern MN, they had Pulla at all types of Festivities. She remembers not likeing it, saying it was very bland. However, she also didn't remember the spices. When I made it she loved the spices. Thinking back, we believe that cardomom was probably far too expensive (and possibly even cinnamon as a replacement for they didn't even use much cinnamon in her childhood) so they probably made the bread without spices. They may not have even been able to get cardamom, considering how remote their town was. I'm not sure about the rosewater, perhaps they could have and maybe did in fact make this? This would be a very bland sweet dough without the cardamom.

Wow, I almost forgot those buttermilk rolls. I'm glad those were mentioned. I remember thinking that I wanted to make them next time we had a family get together.


tabasco's picture

I'm going to make the HCB recipe from FoolishPoolish too.  His photos sold me on them and I am intriqued by the use of a sponge in the dough. 

Last weekend I made Beth Hensberger's HCB recipe from her 'Bread Machine Cookbook' and they were a hit with our overnight guests and easy to make.  I've made these several other times too with a variety of changes depending on what fruits and spices I have on hand.

I also want to make the (Greek?) braided Easter bread with the Easter eggs this year.  I don't know the real name of it (will have to google) but the colored eggs have fascinated me since I was a little girl, so this year I am determined to try it. I will look for the Finnish woman's video on braiding and thanks for that tip. If anyone knows of a good authentic recipe, please LMK.  Otherwise I will just google around. 

Now, what else??  Well, we always make a Rhubarb Pie sometime around now so I have it in the oven as I write.  It's a 10 inch lattice crust pie made with 6 cups of rhubarb and 1/3 cup of Grand Marnier so we'll see how it turns out.  I kind of made up the recipe just for a big family dinner tonight.

I will be interested to hear about others' baking plans.  Nothing like a holiday for the best excuse to bake!

JLatimer's picture

Does anyone have a good kulich (Russian Easter bread) recipe? I would like to try my hand at making kulich and pascha for Pascha this year.

FoodFascist's picture

Hi there,

sorry I'm about a year late to answer your plea but I've only just joined TFL. I'm Russian and I do have several recipes for kulichi and pascha, sorry can't post them this minute as it's 2.30 am and my toddler will be waking me up at 7.30 prompt, but I promise to share them soon. I'm assuming you're in no rush till next spring tho :)

Is it just kulichi you're interested in? Have you got a pascha recipe?