This Good Friday was very good indeed. The yeast dough for my hot cross buns did double in size, Nicole graciously agreed to put on her wide-brimmed Easter bonnet, Kevin managed to get us to a gas station on an empty tank, and it had finished pouring at Bedner’s just minutes before we arrived, cooling off the air and leaving behind sizeable puddles which, in all seriousness, only added charm to the overall ambience of a good old-fashioned Easter egg hunt in a muddy strawberry field on a sunny spring morning after a stormy night.
For a true old-fashioned fun of strawberry picking, Bedner’s Farm Fresh Market is your destination. There, strawberries are still grown the old-fashioned way—in the ground—and picking ripe, healthy berries is pretty much like hunting for Easter eggs: it requires a lot of walking, bending, squatting, and, of course, an inexhaustible enthusiasm of a four-year-old.
The ratio of eggs to kids at the event disappointed a slew of parents but not their offspring; those who couldn’t find any eggs settled down for strawberries, and some little ones were just quite content splashing around in the mud. As I was peeking into the Easter baskets of other kids Nicole’s age to gauge my daughter’s eye-hand coordination skills, I saw anything from a few to a handful of strawberries sitting next to the empty plastic eggs.
“Hey, the kids did get their sweet treats!” I told Kevin. “If only they were inside the eggs!”
Bedner’s strawberry is intensely rich in flavor, the kind of flavor it can develop only from the soil’s nutrients. It’s juicy, sugary, aromatic.
But the fun didn’t stop there. There was still an Easter bonnet and bow tie competition to enter, a hay ride to take, and homemade ice cream to try.
I strongly encourage you to do all of the above, especially the hay ride. It’s awesome! The carriage pulled by a tractor slowly takes you past the veggie patches so you can see and smell what the Bedners grow out there. From strawberries and tomatoes to corn, sweet peppers, cucumbers, cabbage, lettuce, and onions, the bounty of this farm seems to know no measure. The further you get away from the highway, the more the farm starts to look like a gorgeous nature retreat encompassed by a wall of majestic cypress tees and populated with wildlife species.
Bedner’s farm is truly bountiful in ways that extend beyond a long list of produce they grow, sell at their store, and distribute throughout South Florida. Its bounty shows through the way they try to stay as close to organic as possible, the way they take care of their property, and the way they give back to the community.
It’s a gem of a place where bounty of nature equals bounty of love.
A nice grand finale to a busy Good Friday morning like this would be coming home that’s filled with an irresistible aroma of freshly baked bread to a glass of cold milk and a hot cross bun that’s still warm, tightly wrapped in a kitchen towel, and taking a catnap before church. And although things didn’t wrap up that way despite the best of our intentions, that day was the closest I felt to the Easter celebration of an earlier time, the time of Tasha Tudor that was filled with family, tradition, and all things homemade.
Hot Cross Buns, adapted from the April 2010 issue of FamilyFun:
For the dough:
½ cup milk
3 tablespoons butter
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup cold water
1 large egg
1 ½ tablespoons instant or bread machine yeast
3 cups flour, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup dried currants
For the egg wash:
1 large egg
1 teaspoon water
For the icing:
½ cup confectioner’s sugar
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoons milk
1. In a glass 2-cup measuring cup or a small bowl, combine the milk, butter, and sugar and microwave on high until the butter has melted and the milk is just bubbling, about 1 ½ minutes. Whisk in the water and set the mixture aside until it’s lukewarm, about 10 minutes. Whisk in the egg until well blended and set the mixture aside.
2. In a large bowl, mix the yeast, flour, salt, cinnamon, and currants. Add the milk mixture and stir with a wooden spoon or dough whisk until the dough forms a lumpy, sticky mass.
3. Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead the dough until it’s smooth and elastic, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough is too sticky, you can add more flour as you go. Return the dough to the bowl, covet it with plastic wrap, and let it rise at room temperature until it has doubled in bulk, about 11/2 to 2 hours.
4. Punch down the dough in the bowl, then transfer it to a floured surface. Cover the dough and let it rest 10 minutes more.
5. Line a small cookies sheet with parchment paper. To form rolls, divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape each piece into a ball. Place the balls about 1 inch apart on the pan. Cover the rolls with a towel and let them rise at room temperature until they have doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes. Twenty minutes before baking, heat the oven to 375 F.
6. Make the egg wash by whisking together the egg and water in a small bowl. Brush the top of each roll with the wash.
7. Bake the rolls until brown, about 20 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
8. In a small bowl, make the icing by whisking together the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and milk until smooth. Spoon the icing into a ziplock bag. Snip a corner from the bag and squeeze an icing cross onto each bun.
Makes 12 buns.