“Becoming Real… It Lasts for Always”

Hot Cross BunsP I N this to pinterest

She rapped gently at the door that stood slightly ajar, the television emitting a low staccato of voices into the darkened, sparse room. Bending, she gently touched the soft flannel of the elderly man’s sleeve and asked if he was doing well and it seemed that today he was. The medications had been adjusted to allow him to enjoy a pleasant and lucid afternoon. The disorientation had lifted and there was a sense that the gentleman she knew had returned to her.

They chatted for a while and she regaled him with stories of the world “out there” where the silly and innocuous had become an eager distraction for one who had been set down at the end of life’s journey.

In the midst of the visit, the man quietly, asked, “Where are we..” sensing confusion, she hesitantly reminded him of the building and its location. “No,” he repeated insistently, “I mean.. where are we now.” Stunned, she realized only then that his vision had deteriorated since her last visit. “Next to your bed,” the young woman softly conveyed, “The window is to your left..”

So much debilitating ruin in such a short a time.

The young woman had rambled through the market that morning, bustling amidst the stalls overflowing with gorgeous vegetables and rampant with spring flowers. On impulse she had picked up a bouquet of tulips.. parrot tulips with satin ruffled edges. She knew that, in better days, he had been an avid gardener, planting a vegetable garden out back every spring. There were many afternoons when he would arrive, unannounced at her door, an overflowing pail of freshly picked red raspberries in hand, to offer in exchange for just one of the roses from her garden… a rose he would then give to his wife.

Placing the tulips in a glass vase, she asked if he had planted this sort of bulb. Indeed, he had, he reminisced, but of course he had not had a garden in a very long while. She carefully placed a feathery bulb into the weathered, frail hand and tenderly he touched each petal, he felt each ruffled curve and inhaled its scent.

They chatted on, until the late afternoon sun began to cast slanting shadows across the floor of his room.. a breeze gently stirred and lifted the curtains that framed the open window. With anguish, she prepared to take her leave, stood and placed the vase on the old chest near her friend. Standing in the doorway, she paused for a weighted moment, then turned to look back. A sense of peace quietly move through her then and she knew that although he could no longer see them, her friend would be able to sense the flowers’ presence long after she had gone.

B Bamber, April 2012

“What is REAL?” asked the Velveteen Rabbit one day… “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?” 

“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When [someone] loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” 

“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit. 

“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.” 

“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?” 

“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t often happen to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. 

“Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand… once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.” 
― Margery WilliamsThe Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real

… Katie’s batch

With both the poetic Misk Cooks and the playfully rhyming Chica Andaluza both proofing batches of fragrant hot cross buns in their kitchens.. how could I not join in the fun? I searched out a few recipes and orchestrated my own. (Thank you to The Joy of Baking and Nigella Lawson for your recipes.) The first batch turned out all different sizes and shapes, I even had one heart-shaped bun! They definitely looked a bit “shabby”, but that made them seem more “real”, I think. Our second batch turned out much prettier than the first ♥ so I used those for most of the photos. For some pretty perfect looking buns, check out Celia’s at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial.. this is how mine should have looked, lol! And you’ve got to see her Giant Hot Cross Bun! Another pretty post for Easter is over at Assia’s Kaleidoscope. She dyed some really cool eggs and her husband surprised her by whipping up a batch of Hot Cross Buns.. now how lucky is she!?

The cross on top is a Christian symbol for many, but for me it is a symbol of grace…


Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 package (8 grams) active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp white sugar
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup candied fruit mix (or more as desired)
  • 1/3 cup currants or raisins (or more as desired)
  • For the Cross on the Buns
  • 3 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tbsp confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar
  • 2 tbsp water, or more as needed
  • For the Sugar Glaze
  • 2 tbsp confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar
  • 2 tbsp boiling water
  1. In a small saucepan heat the milk on medium-low until it reaches 100F or 38C. Gently stir in the packet of yeast and 1/2 tsp sugar to combine. Set aside for about 10 minutes or until the yeast is foamy on top of the milk.
  2. Meanwhile in the bowl of your electric mixer, with the paddle attachment, combine only 3 1/2 cups flour (set 1/2 cup aside), sugar, spices, and salt. Turn on the mixer and blend all of the dry ingredients together.
  3. Once the yeast is foamy, with the mixer on a low speed, gradually pour it into the flour mixture and continue to beat until the dry ingredients are moistened. Then add the melted butter and egg and beat on low until incorporated.
  4. Clean the dough off the paddle and change to the dough hook. With the mixer on medium low speed, gradually add the candied and dried fruit and continue to mix until the dough comes together into a ball, adding any of the remaining 1/2 cup of flour as needed. Turn the dough ball off the hook and onto a counter scantly floured counter. Continue to knead and add flour as required until the dough isn’t sticky to touch and can be easily kneaded. Knead until the dough becomes silky smooth and elastic. *When making the second batch I barely added any of the remaining 1/2 cup of flour and the dough was easier to handle and lighter when baked.
  5. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning the dough once, so the top is lightly greased. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise until it has almost doubled in size (about 1 1/2 – 2 hours). *Mine took about two hours. I placed a heating pad on low, covered it with a tea towel and placed the bowl on top of this. It worked like a charm. Be sure not to have the heating pad on a high temperature!!
  6. When the dough has doubled in size, gently punch or press it down with your fingers to release the air, and divide into 12 equal pieces or 15 smaller.
  7. Form each piece into a small round ball and place on a parchment lined baking sheet (Place three buns to a row, four rows altogether. They should be spaced so they have enough room to double in size.
  8. Make an egg wash of one beaten egg with 1 tbsp milk, and brush the tops of the buns with the wash. Lightly spray a piece of plastic wrap with a nonstick cooking spray, and place lightly over the buns. Place in a warm spot until almost doubled in size (about 60 minutes). I placed them back on the heating pad set-up and covered lightly with a tea towel as well.
  9. Preheat oven to 400 F (205 degrees C). Brush the tops of the buns again with the egg wash, and with clean kitchen shears (or a a sharp, lightly greased knife), cut a small ‘cross’ in the center top of each bun.
  10. In a small bowl, stir together the plain flour, confectioner’s sugar and water until a smooth consistency is acquired, adding more water as needed. Try not to make this too runny or lumpy. Using a pastry bag with a small tip (#2) or snip a corner of a ziploc bag, pour in the Cross Glaze and pipe large crosses over each bun. *The first batch was so runny it went everywhere, I had to “open and close” the top to move from bun to bun. Had I put them closer together, I could have just “run” straight across all of the buns one way and then straight down the other! The second time around, I made the right consistency that worked well with the #2 tip.
  11. Bake in the oven for approximately 10 minutes, turn the pan and bake for 2-3 minutes more until the tops are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  12. Move the buns to a wire rack with a piece of parchment paper underneath for quick cleanup.
  13. Mix together the sugar glaze ingredients together and brush over the tops of the cooled buns. Let dry then brush over a second time.


P I N this to pinterest

P I N this to pinterest

…these “knobbly” ones were the first go ’round

P I N this to pinterest

…all ready for an egg wash and crosses

P I N this to pinterest


  • I used to love the Velveteen Rabbit. Come to think of it, I still do, except that parts of it have faded in my memory now. But the excerpt you’ve chosen is exquisite and nostalgic. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • What a great start to my day. Two very beautiful stories which really struck a chord, and bought a tear to my eye. Then an amazing recipe…wow your HC Buns look great…and a lovely mention too! I may have to make another batch and will give your recipe a go, before we officially declre Easter over. Or I could just make them without the cross! It seems it has taken us all a few goes to get them right….glad we all persevered 🙂ReplyCancel

    • My daughter wanted to make a batch.. and came home after I’d started. So it really made it easier to improve on the technique. I should do this with all recipes.. it was like getting a “second chance”:) I thought your looked gorgeous.. and I laughed when I got the crosses everywhere too!ReplyCancel

  • The velveteen rabbit is one of my most beloved childhood stories – still, your caption made me ache with need for the rabbit to be real *sad smile*
    On a different note, once more a to die for picture post with such a festive and delicious take my friend – great work 😀

    Happy Easter!
    Choc Chip UruReplyCancel

  • Wow! Stunning post as usual hon! 🙂ReplyCancel

  • They look fantastic – mine were all different shapes, but I didn’t get one that was heart shaped 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Oh, your first story was so sad! I love your hot cross buns though. How delicious they look. I’m sure they’d be amazing straight from the oven xxReplyCancel

    • It was, wasn’t it.. but I tried to give it a hopefuly ending.. I’m glad you liked these buns:) They were great straight from the oven.. two times over:) xoReplyCancel

  • A dab hand with words and in the kitchen – a wonderful combo. 🙂 Your hot cross buns are gorgeous! Thank you for the mention, and a very happy Easter to you, Smidge. xxReplyCancel

    • Thanks, Misky… the heating pad worked a charm on helping the dough to rise in my cold house:) Your buns inspired me to try!! xoxoReplyCancel

  • I still have 3 Velveteen wabbits that used to belong to the kids! You have me sitting here seriously wanting one of those buns now! They look beyond tasty. And your photos? Fab!!! Happy Easter, Smidgey 🙂ReplyCancel

    • You’re so lucky.. I would love to have just one, they’re so cute:) Thanks and Happy Birthday!! xoReplyCancel

  • Smidge – I have a set of those measuring cups. They were my moms and I love them! Have a wonderful holiday!!ReplyCancel

    • That’s so cool.. I bought these at a vintage store, they were missing 1/3 cup so no one wanted them.. they’re my favorite <3ReplyCancel

  • Time to pull out my now 18 year old sons copy of The Velveteen Rabbit! I loved being able to share a story I loved so much as a child with my own child and I look forward to one day sharing it with my grandchildren. Thanks for helping to rekindle some beautiful memories! And…lovely writing as usual!ReplyCancel

  • The hotcross buns look really delicious! Your instructions are really detailed, I think I’ll try out the recipe one day (:ReplyCancel

  • Such a wonderful, moving post, Barb. Your obvious skills in the kitchen aside, you’re a fine story teller.

    Seeing all these delectable hot cross buns just isn’t fair! I’d love to bake some but I’d end up with far too many. If I decide to settle and buy some, I’d have half of far too many. Maybe if I made 1 big one … 🙂ReplyCancel

  • I learn so much when I come here to your site, and it goes way beyond cooking…. these two texts left me fighting back tears, and wondering why would anyone fight back tears… let them flow, that’s the ticket

    Happy Easter for you, and thank you again for yet another thought-inspiring post… with the magical photos to complement it all….ReplyCancel

    • Thanks so much, Sally, it felt like a real risk writing and posting this. But my plan was to write what was in my heart.. and this was it today… Wishing you a wonderful and meaningful Easter:) xoxoReplyCancel

  • What a nice post. Great looking buns too. Just wonderful photos!ReplyCancel

  • Beautiful work – on all aspects of this post!ReplyCancel

  • What yummy buns!ReplyCancel

  • Nice buns. (Sorry — couldn’t resist: someone had to say it). Happy holiday weekend.ReplyCancel

  • The first story is very moving and beautifully told. Happy Easter xoReplyCancel

  • Grace indeed. Beautiful writing and poignant. I love parrot tulips and I love Hot Cross Buns. I just made a batch. These are my most favorite Easter taste and tradition. Happy Easter!ReplyCancel

    • Yay!! They will be my new tradition as well! I love discovering new recipes that turn into a family favorite!ReplyCancel

  • Wonderful post again… Happy Easter dear Barbara, you almost took me in a wonderful world with your amazing writing… And be sure, if I were there all these delicious buns would have been finished 🙂 Thank you, with my love, niaReplyCancel

  • Sometimes, Smidge, I feel blessed to have the privilege of reading your posts – today was one of those times. Thank you for two lovely stories. I think your hot cross buns look most fine, and thank you for the linky. Have a joyous Easter! xxReplyCancel

    • Thanks so much, Celia.. and I was happy to find your recipe to link up <3 Happy Easter to you!! xoxoReplyCancel

  • I am feeling very much like the Velveteen Rabbit, loved but worn out. Went to cash in a gift card for a facial yesterday and she used to strong of a concoction and so I have a new look! A road rash look! Arggh!
    Your buns look amazing unlike your new friend. HAHAHA! I know. I’ll heal….

    My husband loves your header!ReplyCancel

    • Oh, dear.. of course that had to happen the day before the Easter weekend when you’ll likely be socializing with bunches of family and friends! Aargh is right! I wonder if that green aloe jelly would do something, it really helps heal the kid’s sunburns.. aloe is a natural healer. On the bright side, I know you’ll turn that into some sort of funny story for your blog soon!! xoxo Happy Easter xoxo BarbReplyCancel

      • Thanks Smidge! Yep I am going to write about it, but with family still here, probably won’t go out until next week.. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • I loved your tender stories today. What gentle, loving treasures.ReplyCancel

  • I’m very moved by the first writing…tender and sad, and yes, “real”–just hard to think about. And The Velveteen Rabbit always makes me cry! Really lovely post. And those buns look scrumptious! Wish I could make them for tomorrow, but they’ll have to wait. I’ll make them before long, though, I’m sure! Hope your Easter (tomorrow) is a great day! DebraReplyCancel

    • I’m glad my story touched you.. it was actually difficult to write, it affected me as well. I used to have a Velveteen Rabbit puppet (back in teaching days) and wish I knew what became of him! I can only hope he’s in good hands:) I hope you get the chance to make these, they were much easier than I hoped and any bread that turns out in amateur hands like mine must be a good recipe! xo Happy Easter to you and yours!ReplyCancel

  • Nostalgia about the velveteen rabbit. I loved this story as a little girl and I completely forgot about it until I read your passage. Yes sometimes it does hurt to be real…. I know what your going to have on Easter morning. Your hot cross buns look so yummy and delightful- way better than the half of chocolate Easter bunny I ate this morning. LOLReplyCancel

    • Already eaten:) and I’m not so sure.. a half eaten chocolate bunny sounds mighty fine to me!! Maybe melt him down in some warm milk..ReplyCancel

  • Next year, I will be trying to make hot cross buns myself. There is so much inspiration on the blog from everyones recipes. Thank you for letting me know what to expect. Your notes are very helpful.ReplyCancel

  • A very touching story today Smidge – thank you.
    And I haven’t heard of the Velveteen Rabbit before, another thank you
    And hotcross buns – thank you again D)ReplyCancel

  • The Velveteen Rabbit was one of my favorite stories as a child, thanks for the flashback. I’m having such fun seeing all of these different variations on hot cross buns. Yours are the closest to ones I am familiar with because you use the sugar cross instead of a flour one. I think yours look divine! Happy Easter!ReplyCancel

  • Yudith

    Happy Easter Barb, thanks for sharing such a beautiful story. I was planning on making hot cross buns for Easter, but ran out of time! Yours look delicious.ReplyCancel

  • A symbol of grace…I like that a lot Smidge. 🙂 These look fantastic as usual! I’ve never made hot cross buns. Probably time we did though.ReplyCancel

    • They were easier than I thought they’d be.. even those little crosses, once I got the right consistency:)ReplyCancel

  • […] Just a Smidgen – Good grief I love this woman’s recipes and I am so jealous of her food photo skills.  I wanna grow up to take pictures like her! […]ReplyCancel

  • Sarah

    Your story is SO GOOD! I just love it Smidge, you are such a talented girl. I just love reading what you’ve written. It always makes my day….You never let me down. 🙂

    Those hot cross buns! Oh dear! They’re gorgeous! I really should try those once too. I know we’d both love them.

    It looks like you’ve had a wonderful Easter. I’m so glad! I hope your week is just as good!

  • What a sweet tale of time and tulips and congratulations on the buns, they look fabulous 🙂ReplyCancel

  • My sweet, that was a truly moving story. Deeply touching.ReplyCancel

  • Lovely, Barbara. I’ve got The Velveteen Rabbit right beside me! I’ve been meaning to blog about it! I think it will wait. For now…I’m resting in your story.ReplyCancel

  • I’ve only ever heard about the Velveteen Rabbit and it sounds just gorgeous. I must buy it for my niece’s next birthday and we can enjoy it together.ReplyCancel

  • Smidge, as sometimes happens, I nearly missed this treasure of a post. Beautifully, tenderly told, I felt it as much as heard it. Thank you for a lovely start to a day – and a reminder that Each of our days (however corny it sounds) is precious and to be held and breathed and lived heart-forward and fully.
    And your h-c buns are beautiful too! My mom makes them each year, filling her counters to over-flowing until she gives most of them away. xoxoReplyCancel

    • I think you are the sort of person who already knows all of this, already, in your heart:) xoxo I would love to see your mom’s counters laden with Hot Cross Buns.. Such a wonderful fragrance too!!! xoxoxo


  • […] Maybe I’ll take time to bake a loaf of Crescia al Formaggio or Hot Cross Buns… […]ReplyCancel

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