Hi! Sorry it’s been a while with the blogging – full time work, toddler child, etc. etc. the usual excuse.Will make of an effort now though, I promise.
I’ve recently been experimenting with baking bread – not too sure what brought on this surge of baking madness. I think it’s mostly the fact that I don’t have a TV and ABC iView has been a bit crap lately – too many docusoaps rather than actual documentaries and no good food shows at all. So I’ve spent my night doing a bit of bready things – mostly because I never have enough butter on hand to make cakes!
As it’s near Easter, I have decided to try my hands at baking hot cross buns based on the ingredients I have in the pantry (I have a ridiculously full pantry) and here’s an adapted recipe that has worked well for me after trial-and-error, so I’d like to share it here. Bear in mind that this recipe takes about 3 hours in total – so don’t start this at 10pm on a school night like I did.
Hot Cross Buns (using a stand mixer)
- 1 x 7g packet yeast
- 1/4 cup caster sugar
- 1 1/2 cup milk
Place milk in a large bowl and heat on medium for about 2 minutes until hand-hot. Add sugar and yeast. Stir gently until dissolved. Leave in a warm place for about 5-10 minutes until the mixture is frothy and it begins to smell yeasty.
Dough – makes 15 hot cross buns
- 4.5 cups plain flour
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamon
- 2 cups dried mixed fruits (I use leftover random dried mixed fruits from Christmas pudding attempts from 2 years ago)
- Zest of one orange (optional – my mixed fruit contained citrus peel but if yours doesn’t, add orange zest)
- 60g butter, cut into small 1cm cubes
- 1 egg
If your butter cubes are fridge cold, warm them in the microwave using the lowest setting possible in 5 second bursts i.e. only let the microwave on low for no more than 5 seconds at a time until they are soften. Be very careful as it will take mere seconds between perfectly softened and melted butter. If you are organised, obviously you can leave your butter outside the fridge until it’s soft but really, who thinks ahead that far!?!
Add flour, spices, dried fruits and, if using, orange zest into a mixing bowl. Attach the dough hook of your stand mixer and turn it on low and let it mix the dry ingredients for a few minutes until well combined. Add the yeast mixture, egg and butter and allow the mixer to do its thing. Magic really. Didn’t even have to get my hands dirty. I have a KitchenAid artisan mixer and I had it on at speed 1 all the way but adjust according to your mixer’s instructions.
It should take about 10 minutes for the dough to come together properly before the mixer can really start to ‘knead’ it. You may need to give it a helping hand by scraping the dough mixture away from its side until a ball starts to form. The dough will look rather sticky – keep going. Allow it to ‘knead’ for about 10 more minutes (about 20 minutes in total but it is more important that the final product looks right rather than the actual time spent) – until the dough comes off the side of the bowl cleanly and springs back when pressed.
While the dough was kneading, I turned on my gas oven (much faster to heat up than an electric one) and let the oven come to about 100′c before turning it off so my dough can rise in the warm oven.
When the dough is ready. knead it a few more times by hand. Place the dough in a lightly oiled thick glass bowl (Pyrex bowls are perfect.) and cover with a slightly wet tea towel. Place it in the oven until doubled in size. It is important that if you are proofing your dough in the metallic mixing bowl, you need to ensure that the oven temperature does not exceed 50′c as metal bowls transfer heat much faster and if your oven is at 100′c in a metal bowl, it will be way too hot. Also ensure that the bowl is oiled on the side so that the dough is allowed to rise rather than gets stuck on the side of an ungreased bowl. Alternatively, you can always just leave it at room temperature. How long this takes obviously depends on the room temperature at the time.
Once the dough has doubled in size, knock out the air in the dough and knead it briefly a few more times by hand to bring it back to almost the original size. Divide the dough into 15 balls and line them on a greased baking tray against each other. Place them back in the hopefully-still-warm-but-definitely-not-lit oven to proof for another half an hour or so. Take the dough out and turn up the oven to 200′c.
Flour Paste for Cross
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 2 tbsp water
Mix the flour and water into a paste – this should a really, really thick batter consistency. Pass it through the sieve if it remains stubbornly lumpy if you have too (totally messy). Place in a piping bag, cut the tip off to make about 1/2 cm line. Once the dough has proofed the second time, pipe the cross across all the buns rather than one at a time. Bake in the preheated oven at 200′c for about 20-30 minutes until golden brown. When in doubt, just pull out the ugliest looking bun and have a taste.
- Marmalade or commercially prepared spreadable jelly
Many recipes will tell you to mix sugar, water (and optionally gelatine) and use this syrup mixture to glaze your lovely hot cross buns. You can that of course, but I was far too lazy. So I found at the back of my fridge the very end of a rose petal jelly spread – there hadn’t been enough left to do much with it but I couldn’t bear to throw it away because it wasn’t finished. I removed the lid, place the (glass) jar in the microwave for a few seconds on high until the jelly melts and bubbles. I used a pastry brush and brush this hot sticky rosy syrup on the hot cross buns right after they came out of the oven. Magic. I ended up with the shiniest, glossiest hot cross buns with very little efforts. The glaze made them look twice as good so I urge you not to skip this step. Marmalade will also work well. Simply spoon a couple of tablespoons out and warm them up in the microwave as the above instructions.
Happy Easter. Yay for super long weekend. Enjoy.