Easter is on the horizon! During the lenten season I normally spend my time watching religious films like Jesus Christ of Nazareth, listening to non-stop Gospel music and participating in special services at church. My all time favorite tradition during Easter season is making Good Friday buns. These buns (when made correctly) are one of the most tastiest treats your mouth will ever encounter. Normally on Good Friday my family refrains from eating meat and the Good Friday buns usually serve as our nourishment along with some cheese and nice steamed fish.
Sidebar: Please pardon the two toned text. I have no idea why it’s doing this lol. It should be black!
So, if you don’t know, or if you need a refresher,
“Good Friday is the day when Christians commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. This is an important event in Christianity, as it represents the sacrifices and suffering in Jesus’ life. The crucifixion was the culmination of a number of events in Holy Week, including: the triumphal return of Jesus to Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; the washing of the disciples’ feet by Jesus; and the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday” (Retrieved from: TimeandDate.com)
In other words… I have a reason to celebrate! So, since you’ve gotten a little history, how about I give you the recipe. Due to the amount of time these usually take to make I suggest starting the Wednesday night before Good Friday. It may seem like a lot at first but I promise it’s really not. I will be attempting these using my bread machine this year but there is nothing like the good ole traditional recipe.
Just look at this picture and you should get enough motivation 🙂
These are the ingredients you will need. I broke them down into sections:
3 pack yeast
3/4 cups water
1 Tsp of liquid browning
1 1/2 Tsp Sugar
5lb pack of flour (you can use all purpose but I recommend Bread Flour)
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1tbsp ground cloves
1tsp ground allspice
2 cups sugar
Dash of salt
1 1/2 lbs margarine or lard (also known as Manteca)
raisins (I add a lot…possibly a whole box)
4 Cups Warm Water (or as needed)
1 Bottle of molasses (or more if you prefer)
Tips for Ingredients:
If you are not going to use the ground cloves and ground allspice often I recommend getting the 99 cent packs. When you buy actual bottles they can get pretty pricey unless you have a quality West Indian market around.
One or two 9×13 baking pan
One large mixing bowl (metal preferred but plastic is fine as well)
Clean surface for kneading
Clean kitchen towel or peice of cloth
Add the warm water to your large mixing bowl
What is warm? So you really don’t need to get a thermometer for this. I use the back of my hand and my best judgement. If its hot to the point where you have to move your hand that is clearly NOT warm. If it’s cool and there is no existence of hot water then that’s now warm either. Generally its right in the middle but more on the red side if that make sense. If you do want to use a thermometer the water should be between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
Add about 1 tsp of browning to the water and stir it in well. It should be a dark brown color. Then Add all three yeast packets and sprinkle the mixture with a 1 1/2 tsp of sugar. Gently stir the mixture and let it rest. The yeast is active when it is doubled in size and nice and foamy. Don’t hover over it…go watch TV for 20-30 minutes then come back. The browning in the yeast extends the rising time.
When your yeast is done add all ingredients from section 2 except the water. I recommend getting these items prepped in their amounts while your yeast is rising. Mix them well together ensuring the scrape all the yeast off the pan with your hands and into the mix. Once you have a good mix slowly add warm water to your mixture. There is no exact measurement for the water. All items should be wet and well covered. The goal is for you to gather everything in a nice firm ball that is soft…not stiff.
Once you have all the ingredients together remove it from the pan and onto a lightly floured surface. Roll up your sleeves and start to knead the dough for about 8-10 minutes. Yes, your arms will get tired but it’s worth it. You want to make sure that the yeast is being evenly distributed throughout the dough. If the dough starts sticking to the surface add more flour to the surface. If it’s too stiff add a little more water.
When your kneading is done rinse out the large bowl, dry it and lightly coat it with margarine or lard. Add your kneaded dough to the pan and cover with the kitchen cloth. You can let it rest on the counter but I usually place mine in the oven (turned off).
Tips for helping bread rise:
As I mentioned earlier, the browning and now the sugar and raisins that you added to the bread will extend the rising time. So, to help speed up the process you could boil some water and pour the water in a small pan an place it on the rack below the dough pan. The steam will create a warm haven for the dough to rise. Again, don’t mess with it, there is no need to make 15 checkups on the dough. This would be a nice opportunity for you to watch 1-2 movies or step out for a few hours. When you come back your kitchen towel should look like it’s 2 months with child lol or simply when it has double or tripled in size 🙂
Now you have the awesome job of forming your buns. Generally I form anywhere from 12-17 balls around the same size. 2 rows per pan. I save the spare ball of dough to use to make the crosses on the bun. You don’t have to try and make the buns perfect. You just put the round dough shapes in the pan and as they rise they will link up together. Once you place the dough balls in the pan take small pieces from the last ball and make thin little logs with them and place two over each ball making crosses. Cover the pan with the kitchen cloth and let them rise again until doubled in size. You can repeat the same boiled water steps here as well. I usually let it rise in the oven overnight. If you do this, there is no need to implement the boiling water pan.
Once the second rise is over you turn on your oven to 275/300 and let them bake until a beautiful medium-dark brown. I can’t remember how long exactly (sorry) usually somewhere between 45 minutes to 1 hour. Just do the knife check for any goo. If your buns are turning dark before cooking inside turn the oven temperature down.
After that you remove it from the oven and add a generous amount of molasses over the baked buns and let it cool.
See first picture for final results.
I recommend grabbing some good ole fashioned Jamaican Cheese (in the tin) or some extra sharp cheddar made by Cracker Barrel or Cabbot.
Enjoy your Good Friday buns and have a fabulous Easter. Remember, Easter is NOT about a bunny.
For general baking tips visit Bread World