We have a few very strong holiday food traditions in my family. Firstly, we have Christmas Biscuits. These are a traditional Estonian biscuit, sort of like gingerbread but soooo much better! They are a heavily guarded family secret recipe. And you are only allowed to make and eat them at Christmas (much to my husband’s dismay!)
And for Easter, we have Pasha. Pasha is a sweet lemon and vanilla cream cheese, designed to go on sweet yeast breads, such as Hot Cross Buns. It is a smooth and airy cream cheese, made by whipping a few types of cream cheese together, and adding the flavouring ingredients. The lemon makes it feel light and moreish, but it is so creamy and decadent still.
These buns here are the perfect base for Pasha, if you don’t want to go the Hot Cross Bun route. They are lightly spiced, soft and slightly sweet. They go equally well slathered in butter and jam. Or jam and cream. Or honey and ricotta. Or my Chocolate Halva Spread. You know, if you don’t have a secret family recipe for Pasha. Eat them warm, straight from the oven (after allowing to cool enough to handle!), or halve and toast them like you would a hot cross bun.
These buns are barely adapted from the Honey Buttermilk bread on Local Milk. I’ve merely added spices to make them more festive, and swapped out some of the flour for Rye Flour. I love rye bread, and I love the extra nutty/sweet flavour dimension it gives these buns. I also lazily use my KitchenAid to do all the kneading.
I find this dough is also good to leave the second rise overnight, and you can bake them fresh for the morning. Simple form the buns, then loosely cover with plastic wrap. Place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, remove the plastic wrap, brush with egg and place in the oven while it’s heating up. They will still take around 40 minutes from when your oven reaches temperature, but if they start to get too brown before they’re ready, cover the tray with foil for the last 10 minutes or so.
Enjoy! Happy Easter!
Spiced Honey Buttermilk Buns
(adapted from Local Milk)
(makes 12 small buns)
(makes 12 small buns)
¼ cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
2 ¼ tsp yeast
1 ½ cups buttermilk
1/3 cup honey
3 tbsp butter
1 tsp salt
1 ½ cups rye flour
3 cups plain flour
1 ½ tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp cloves
¼ tsp nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten for brushing
Mix the warm water with the sugar and add the yeast. Set aside to get frothy for 10 minutes.
In the bowl of your standmixer, mix together the two flours, spices and salt.
In a saucepan over a low heat, melt the butter, then add the honey and buttermilk. Keep over the heat until the buttermilk is warm. Not hot, else the buttermilk will separate, just warm. Take off the heat and stir through the yeast mixture.
Pour the buttermilk mix into the flour and, with the dough hook attached, start kneading into a dough. Leave it kneading for 5-10 minutes, adding extra plain flour 1 tbsp at a time if the dough is sticky. It’s ready when it forms a firm ball.
Grease a large bowl lightly, and place the dough in. Turn to coat the other side with oil too, then drape a clean tea towel over it and leave it in a warm place to rise for 1 ½ - 2 hours, or until doubled in size.
Grease a lamington tray. When the dough has doubled, punch down to remove the air. Divide into two equal balls. Re-cover half of the dough, and divide the other half into 6 equal balls. Roll into neat balls between your palms and place in the tray, spacing them a little. Do the same with the second half of dough.
Set aside to rise again, this time for 40 minutes or so, until doubled. They’ll probably all be touching now. That’s good. Brush with egg.
Heat the oven to 170C and bake for 40 minutes, or until toasty and golden on top, and hollow sounding when you tap the bottom. Allow to cool for a few minutes before slathering with butter, or pasha!