Sunday, April 12, 2009
I wanted to make something different for Easter this year. Not that I remembered making anything last year, or even the year before. Growing up in the tropics mean that Easter has never been such a big deal. Sure, I remember my first Easter egg hunt---Sunday school, quite a lot of years back. But no, they did not hide the eggs in the garden or anything like that. The Sunday School teachers (do you guys call them that?) merely hid them in different parts of the classroom. Not much fun. We were told beforehand that we could only take one egg each, that no one is to take two. And I guess I was never the fastest, or the most eager kid in the room. Instead of searching high and low, like other kids, I just went up to a boy who had found two, and were holding them in his hands, and said, "Can I have one of your Easter eggs? You can't take two."
I did not remember whether he said yes or no--he might have been too stunned by my forward-ness (read: aggression)-- but I ended up going home with my first chocolate Easter egg anyway. I think I might have just taken it out of his hand without waiting for him to respond first. Hm.
Unlike the rest of the world, us folks in the Southern Hemisphere do not herald Easter as the beginning of Spring and the coming of better weather. I have to say that this Easter has been the warmest so far, but I know the warm days are numbered, so I decided to put an extra dose of spice to give these cookies some much-needed comfort. I also chose to use a combination of sultanas and raisins because, well, I just happened to have them lying around in my pantry.
Hot cross cookies
(adapted from The Australian Women's Weekly Cookies book)
125g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
120g of a mixture of sultanas and raisins
300g self-raising flour
3tsp mixed spice
apricot jam, for glazing
1/2 egg white
125g icing sugar
Beat butter and sugar together in a bowl of an electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, add the egg, and stir in the sultanas and raisins. Sift flour and spice together over the mixture, and add the milk. Mix until it just comes together. Weigh 15g of dough, and roll into a ball. Place on lined baking sheet, and flatten slightly. Repeat until all the dough is used up. Leave about 5 cm space in between each cookie, because they will expand in size when baking. Bake at 160 degree Celsius for 15 minutes, or until light golden. Allow to cool.
To make royal icing, sift icing sugar into a bowl. Whisk egg white until foamy, and beat in icing sugar in 4 additions. Continue whisking until mixture is thick. To achieve piping consistency, water it down with one tablespoon of water. You may have to adjust the amount of water required. If the royal icing feels a bit stiff to be piped, feel free to add more water. With a paper cornet or a piping bag with a very small round tip ( I used a decorator's tip, because they are generally made for finer work), pipe crosses on top of the cookies. Leave overnight to set.
Heat apricot jam in a saucepan, strain, and brush jam on the cookies.