Baking bread at Easter is an old tradition in many parts of the world. Norma Jost Voth has gathered recipes from Europe, Scandinavia, Greece, Russia, and Eastern European countries and has put then in a charming book, "Festive Breads of Easter" (Scottdale, Pa: Herald Press. $2.95).
An Italian egg bread shaped like a dove is part of the Easter celebration around Naples. In Finland, a rich bread, spiced with cardamon and especially good with soft cheeses, is baked in milking pails in some parts of the country.
Among this collection of delicate sweet breads is the recipe for Hot Cross Buns, which are traditional on Good Friday in the British isles. At one time these currant-filled rolls marked with a cross of icing were delivered by horse-drawn bakery wagon in Dublin, just in time for breakfast. English Hot Cross Buns 3 1/2 to 4 cups flour 3/4 cup lukewarm milk 1/2 cup lukewarm water 1 package active dry yeast 1tablespoon sugar 1/4 cup sugar 1/2 teaspoon salt 1/4 cup melted butter 1/4 teaspoon allspice 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 2 eggs 2/3 cup currants 1/4 cup diced citron1 1 egg yolk 1 tablespoon water Lemon Glaze
In mixing bowl combine 1 cup flour, milk, water, yeast, and 1 tablespoon sugar. Beat well. Set this yeast sponge in warm place until frothy. Melt butter; cool.
To yeast sponge, add remaining sugar, salt, melted butter, and spices. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add 1 cup flour and beat 5 minutes with electric mixer. Gradually add remaining flour, currants, and citron. Turn out onto floured board and knead until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes.
Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top of dough. Cover with kitchen towel and set in warm place until doubled in bulk. Punch down. Turn out onto lightly floured board and knead lightly for 2 minutes.
Divide dough into 24 equal parts and shape into buns. Place well apart on greased baking sheet. Cover and let rise until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
Make a cross on each bun with sharp knife. Brush with egg yolk beaten with water.
Bake at 375 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden. Cool on wire rack. Lemon Glaze 1 cup powdered sugar 1 teaspoon grated lemon peel 1 1/2 tablespoons milk
Mix together and drizzle over buns in the cross design.