Not-cross-buns, 2016

Continuing a fine tradition in our house of subverting pre-existing festivals for our own purposes, I’ve made not-cross-buns, using the excellent recipe on Anne Else’s blog.

This year I’ve made DNA buns.

DNA buns

DNA buns

Buns from previous years:

In 2015 I made PI buns.

Pi buns, 2015

Pi buns, 2015

In 2014, I made fruity Star fleet insignia buns, and fruitless Harry Potter scar buns.

Fruity Starfleet insignia not-cross-buns, 2014

Fruity Starfleet insignia not-cross-buns, 2014

Harry Potter not-cross-buns, 2014

Harry Potter not-cross-buns, 2014

In 2013, I had a go at making Deathly Hallows buns.

Deathly Hallows Buns, 2013

Deathly Hallows Buns, 2013

In 2012, I made Darwin Fish buns.

Darwin Fish Buns, 2012

Darwin Fish Buns, 2012

In 2011, I did not make buns. I have no idea why not, but perhaps we were away from home on Good Friday. And in the years before that, I’ve made Eye of Sauron buns, Flying Spaghetti Monster buns, and Atheist-A buns.

With best wishes for a relaxing and peaceful weekend.

Not-cross-buns, 2014

As has become traditional in our house, I have made not-cross-buns for Easter. This year I’ve changed recipes. I used a recipe from Anne Else’s blog, Something Else to Eat, which Anne says comes to her from her friend Ali, who has used an Alison Holst recipe, but modified it a little. I modified the recipe a little too – I added a teaspoon of coffee powder and a teaspoon of cocoa to the spice mix, to give the buns a darker colour, and instead of using mixed dried fruit, I used a mix of raisins, currants and glace peel.

I made the designs on top using a paste of flour, icing sugar and water (about 2 tablespoons of flour, 1 tablespoon of icing sugar, and enough water to get a firmish paste). And I made a caster sugar and water glaze rather than using a brown sugar or golden syrup glaze. Because recipes are just a suggestion, after all…

As for this year’s designs:

By request from the younger busy bees, Harry Potter scar buns. These buns are fruitless, to cater for the people in my house who don’t care for dried fruit.

Harry Potter not-cross-buns

Harry Potter not-cross-buns

Fruity Starfleet insignia buns.

Fruity Starfleet insignia not-cross-buns

Fruity Starfleet insignia not-cross-buns

Served with lashings of butter and coffee.

Coffee and buns

Coffee and buns

These are the best not-cross-buns I have made so far. The recipe from Anne-Ali-Alison is excellent. The buns had a lovely texture, not too dense, not too fluffy, and the flavour was great. They were also quite easy to make – a lot less time consuming than some other bun recipes I have used.

I hope that you’re having a restful Easter.

The not-cross-buns I’ve made in previous years:
2013 – Deathly Hallows
2012 – Darwin Fish
2010 – the Eye of Sauron
2009 – Flying Spaghetti Monster buns
2008 – Atheist “A” buns

Hot atheist buns – 2013 edition

In the fine spirit of adapting festivals to suit your own needs, today I made some buns for Easter.

Deathly Hallows Buns

Deathly Hallows Buns

Deathly Hallows buns. Some with fruit and some without, to suit the varying tastes of the godless in our house.

I used this recipe: Hot atheist buns – the recipe – on paper.

Earlier posts in this (nearly) annual series:
2012 – Darwin fish buns
2010 – Eye of Sauron buns
2009 – Flying Spaghetti Monster buns
2008 – Atheist “A” buns

Hot atheist buns – the recipe – on paper

Most years, when Easter comes around (on the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Northern Hemisphere spring equinox), I make Hot Atheist Buns, because although I am not a Christian, I do like the food.

Darwin Fish Buns

Darwin Fish Buns

I’ve been using a recipe from a Melbourne blogger, but this year, the blog has disappeared. A friend who uses the same recipe from the same blog contacted me to see if I happened to have a copy of the recipe. And I do! Because even though teh interweb is a wondrous beast, sometimes, inexplicably, it breaks, and then paper is a jolly good backup. Also, my paper copy has my notes on it, with the changes I have made in the recipe so that it works better for my tastes.

So herewith my version of the recipe for Hot Cross Atheist Buns.

Mix 1 tablespoon active dry yeast, 2 teaspoons of sugar and 1 and 1/2 cups of lukewarm milk. Set aside for a few minutes, until the mixture starts to foam.

Sift 4 and 1/2 cups of plain flour and some spices. The original recipe recommends 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of mixed spice, and 2 and 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon, but I prefer to use a mix of ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and allspice, with maybe a little mace if I happen to have some. I tend to go lighter on the ginger, and heavier on nutmeg and cinnamon, because the younger atheists in this household aren’t fond of ginger. I use about 4 teaspoons of spices altogether.

Add 1/4 cup of white sugar and 1/4 cup of brown sugar and mix through the flour. The original recipe suggests 1/2 cup of caster sugar, but I like to substitute some brown sugar, so that the buns have a richer colour. I have tried using all brown sugar, but that made the buns a bit too sickly sweet for my taste.

Melt 50gm butter, and beat one egg. Add to the milk and yeast mix, and then add all the liquids to the flour mix. Use a knife to mix the wet and dry ingredients together until a sticky dough forms.

Knead the dough on a well floured surface for about 8 minutes, until it is elastic. Then knead in 1/4 cup mixed glace peel, and 2 cups of mixed dried fruit. I use a combination of sultanas, raisins and currants, in roughly equal proportions.

Put the fruity dough into a large oiled bowl, cover it with a tea towel, and leave it to stand in a warm place for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.

At this stage, you should prepare your baking tin. The recipe recommends baking the buns in a 23cm square tin, but I tend to make free-form buns. Either is fine. If you use a square tin, grease it, and then line it with baking paper. If you are making free standing buns, then line a sponge roll tray with baking paper.

Divide the risen dough into 16 pieces, and roll into balls.

Place the balls evenly in the square tin, or in close formation on the sponge roll tray, so that they will end up touching each other. Set aside to rise again for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200°C. To make crosses, or other symbols, combine 1/4 cup of plain flour, and 2 tablespoons of water to make a paste. Use an icing bag, or a plastic bag with the corner cut off, to pipe crosses, or other symbols, onto the buns. Bake them for 35 minutes until they are well browned and springy to touch.

Start preparing a glaze for the buns about 5 minutes before they come out of the oven. Place 1/4 cup of caster sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved, then add 1 teaspoon powdered of gelatine, dissolved in 1 extra tablespoon of water. Cook for one minute.

Take the buns out of the oven, and brush the warm glaze over them while they are hot.

Sometimes I don’t bother with the glaze, because it’s very sticky. I also tend to cut down on the sugar in the dough, because I prefer slightly less sweet buns. And as I do with my Christmas cake, I often add a heaped teaspoon of powdered coffee, dissolved in a tiny bit of water, to round out the flavour and improve the colour.

Eat with lashings of butter.

In previous years I have made Darwin Fish Buns, Eye of Sauron Buns, Atheist “A” Buns, and Flying Spaghetti Monster Buns. I’m not quite sure what buns I will make this year. We shall see..


This year’s Hot Atheist Buns.

Darwin Fish Buns

(Description: Tray of buns, each with a Darwin Fish instead of a cross)

I used the same recipe as I have used in previous years, except that I added a tablespoon of instant coffee to get a browner colour and a richer flavour, and per Stef’s advice one year, I made them freeform rather than squishing them up in a tin.

This is becoming a tradition of sorts in our house. Last year I had an unaccountable lapse, and didn’t make any, but in 2010, I made Eye of Sauron buns, and in 2009 I made Flying Spaghetti Monster buns. I first made sacrilegious buns in 2008, when I made atheist “A” buns. The children climbed up the fence and told our elderly neighbours about them, but they just laughed. After all, it wasn’t as though we done something terrible like support Port Power instead of the Crows (this is a somewhat obscure reference to sports teams in Adelaide).

Delicious. We had some late this afternoon, and we will have the rest for breakfast tomorrow.

Hot Darwin Fish Bun

(Description: Hot Darwin Fish bun, split in two, spread with melted butter)

Holidays on holy days

I have another opinion piece in the Dom Post today, ‘though this time, it’s not on-line. I’ve scanned a copy: click on the thumbnail to see a largish and legible-ish version of it, and then click again to increase the size so that you can read it.

The argument is quite straightforward: in order to accommodate the increasing diversity in our society, instead of having public holidays on Christian festivals, but not on other faiths’ holy days, we should change the law to allow each person to choose two ‘public’ holidays for her or himself. This would enable Christians to celebrate Christmas and Easter, and Muslims to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, and Hindus to celebrate Diwali, and so on.

And there’s a fairly standard argument raised in response by those who would like everything to just stay the same and suit them so that they don’t have to make any changes whatsoever: all those people from other ethnicities who came here knew what the rules were before they arrived, so they can just lump it.

In the column, I point out that these days, many people of other faith traditions, meaning non-Christian traditions, were born here, and in any case, many have become citizens, so they are entitled to the same rights as other citizens.

But evidently that argument was too subtle for one of my in-laws, who quizzed me tonight about the column, and raised the standard argument, even though I had addressed it already. I quietly seethed, but simply argued the point back, and suggested that given that we live in a diverse society, and that diversity is increasing, then as a matter of practical living, we simply must find ways of rubbing along together. She desisted, thank goodness.

Because otherwise, I would have had to point out that if immigrants were to simply take on board the rules that were in existence when they arrived, then we would all be celebrating Matariki. And I don’t imagine that she would have liked that at all.

I came across one interesting snippet when I was writing the column. Our Holidays Act says that the purpose of the Act is:

to promote balance between work and other aspects of employees’ lives and, to that end, to provide employees with minimum entitlements to—
(a) annual holidays to provide the opportunity for rest and recreation:

(b) public holidays for the observance of days of national, religious, or cultural significance:

(c) sick leave to assist employees who are unable to attend work because they are sick or injured, or because someone who depends on the employee for care is sick or injured:
(d) bereavement leave to assist employees who are unable to attend work because they have suffered a bereavement.

Source – Holidays Act 2003, section 3 – Purpose

The emphasis is mine.

I don’t think the Act is fulfilling its purpose. It gives employees entitlements to holidays for Christian religious purposes, but no holidays are allowed for any other faith’s religious purposes. Either the Act needs to be changed, or some consideration needs to be given to marking religious festivals in faiths other than the Christian faith.

As usual, I ended the column with a slightly quirky descriptive line about myself.

Deborah … would like to take a day’s leave each year to celebrate Darwin’s birthday.


Apparently, churches don’t want schools to offer ethics classes as an alternative to scripture classes, because then…

religious children miss out on ethics.

Source: Catholics try new tack in ethics row.

H/T: Lauredhel, on Twitter

So religion doesn’t teach values and ethical behaviour after all! Who’d have thunk…

Update: Lauredhel has a considered post about teaching scripture and teaching ethics in schools, including a bit about the pearler I’ve quoted above. You should go read it: Catholic: “Scripture kids would miss out on ethics”