Whilst I was going through my iPhoto the other day finding all the pictures of food and linking them to my posts, I came to realise that the hot cross buns I had once taken photos of did not have a post to call home.
I made quite a few batches last year so I don't know how I missed that one. I even brought a batch to class the week leading up to Easter.
It is not until you work for a food ingredient company do you fully realise the impact that holidays have on the food industry. I was stuck in rush hour Auckland all afternoon traffic last Friday delivering urgent cartons of fresh yeast to multiple bakeries Auckland wide. Oh and don't even get me started on mixed peel . . .
So while I'm not exactly religious I do appreciate the reason for the season. I immensely dislike how children are brought up being only aware of the chocolate and the eggs. Go and have a google about the history of hot cross buns, its seriously fascinating reading especially around the crazy laws surrounding them. Hot cross buns are a British invention and are traditionally eaten during Lent up until Good Friday and of course the cross on the top being a symbol for Christ's crucifixion.
Last year I dabbled with Rachel Allen's recipe from her book Bake. The results were sweet and soft. This year I gave the recipe in Kim Evan's Little and Friday Celebrations book and I have to say I am a little disappointed. The dough was a bit of a mare and it almost broke my Kitchenaid! I had to add extra sugar, milk and egg in order for the dough to come together. Considering there was a whole tonne of instant yeast in the recipe too, they weren't as soft and fluffy as I would have expected. So I am in a bit of a dilemma as to which recipe to put here. I am probably going to use Rachel's quantities and my own personal method because if I was to do it again that is what I would do.
Just like my focaccia method, I use a warm oven to do my rising for me. This was born out of impatience and necessity. When I lived in Dunedin you had put your milk in the fridge to stop it freezing, so there was no way a bowl of bread dough was ever going to rise without a bit of help. Heat your oven up to 100 degrees on bake. Once it is to temperature, turn it off. Voila! A warm place for your dough to rise. This way, you will only have to wait about 20 minutes for rising rather than the hour some recipes instruct.
I am probably going to have left over buns at the end of today so I a going to try experimenting with a bun and butter pudding tomorrow so keep an eye out for that!
Hot Cross Buns
Based loosely upon the recipe by Rachel Allen in Bake
100g castor sugar
300ml warm milk
1 8g packet of instant yeast
75g chilled butter, cut into cubes
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon allspice
1 teaspoon ginger
pinch of salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups sultanas (soaked in boiling water for ten minutes then drained)
1/2 cup chopped mixed peel
For the crosses
1/2 cup plain flour
1/2 cup water
For the glaze
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Warm your oven to 100C on bake then turn it off to make a warm oven. Line a large rectangular tin with baking paper.
Mix together your yeast, flour, spices and dried fruit in a large bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingers or if using a stand mixer, mix until the butter has dispersed throughout the dry mixture.
Warm the milk and dissolve the sugar into it. Whisk the eggs into the milk being sure the milk isn't too hot when you do this (you don't want scrambled eggs!).
Make a well in the centre of the dry mixture and add almost all of the egg and milk mixture. Mix until a soft dough forms. Add the rest of the liquid if you need to.
Knead the dough for 10 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth. Transfer the dough to a large bowl and leave to rise in the warm oven for 30 minutes.
Knock the dough back and portion of sections of dough (40g apparently) roll into nice smooth balls and place in the baking tin. You don't want to pack too many in but you do want them to be kind of close.
Return to the warm oven to rise again for another 20-30 minutes. Remove then preheat the oven to 180 degrees on bake.
Make a paste with the flour and water and pipe crosses onto each bun.
Bake at 180 degreed for 20 minutes until they sound hollow when tapped. While they are baking, make the glaze by boiling together the sugar and water until it becomes slightly syrupy. As soon as the buns come out of the oven, generously brush the glaze over them.
Serve immediately with a good lashing of butter.