For this month’s Fresh from the Oven Challenge, we have Hot Cross Buns for a good reason. Easter and Hot Cross Buns are synonymous and I had been meaning to make these for as long as I remember. Little Loaf challenged us to make these and I jumped at the chance. I had another reason to make these; I had to salvage my image as a good baker at my workplace where I had managed to commit a severe faux pas. You could read about it here.
The Hot cross buns though wonderful to taste, didn’t look very uniform in shape despite my best efforts. By the time I got to my third batch, I even burnt some. In my oven, I can bake only nine pieces at one go. To have a uniform golden colour, I had to light ( yes I have a gas oven) the top burner for the last few minutes of the bake time.
I used a recipe from the latest issue of the BBC GoodFood Magazine. Little Loaf’s recipe seemed just as good, but it would have required me to take a print or write the recipe down, so I preferred what I had on hand – the recipe from the Magazine. There was a method nicely described to get all your crosses perfectly but I had little patience and not the best piping bag to help me. But these are cute, methinks.
Recipe for Hot Cross Buns
Paul Hollywood’s Hot Cross Buns with jam glaze.
For the buns
Milk – 300 ml full fat plus 2 tbsp more
Butter – 50 gm
Strong Bread flour – 500 gm
salt – 1 tsp
caster sugar – 75 gm
Sunflower oil – 1 tbsp
Instant yeast – 7 gm
egg – 1, beaten
Mixed dried fruit peel, raisins, dried apricots – 125 gm
Ground cinnamon – 1 tsp
Ground nutmeg – 1 tsp
zest of 1 orange
For the cross
Plain flour + extra for dusting – 75 gm
For the glaze
3 tbsp of jam of your choice – I had plum and fig on me. So I used that.
1. Bring the milk to boil, then remove from the heat and add butter. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature. It shouldn’t cool down entirely.
2. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a bowl. Make a well in the center. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, the add the egg. Using a wooden spoon mix well and then bring everything together with your hands until you have a stick dough. Mine was too sticky. I had to add plenty of extra flour to make it manageable. So be a little conservative as you add the milk into the flour and add as required.
3. Tip on the lightly floured surface and knead by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heel of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size and a finger pressed into it leaves a dent.
4. With the dough still in the bowl, tip all the fruit peel, orange zest, and anything that you want to add along with the spices. Knead all this into the dough and make sure everything is evenly distributed. Leave it to rise for 1 hour more, or until doubled in size again, covered by some well oiled cling film to stop the dough getting a crust.
5. Divide the dough into 15 even pieces ( about 75 gm per piece). Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured work surface. Arrange the buns on one or two baking trays lined with parchment, leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Cover with a clean tea towel., then set it aside to prove for 1 more hour.
6. Heat oven to 220 C/gas mark 7. Mix the flour with about 5 tbsp of water to make the paste for the cross- add 1 tbsp at a tim, so you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a cross along each bun and bake for 20 minutes on middle shelf of the oven until golden brown. If like mine, your oven heats alternately, then after 17 minutes, switch on the top burner and let the top of the buns brown to a golden hue for the last 3 minutes.
7. Gently heat the jam of your choice to melt and get rid of any huge chunks. Using a pastry brush, gently brush over the top of the warm buns while the jam is till warm
It was a wonderful experience and all of these seemingly never ending steps came together quickly. My colleagues took not one, not two but three servings and kept coming back for more. They may not be the prettiest looking buns and hence they didn’t inspire the photographer in me.
With work and responsibilities at home taking a whole lot of my time, it has become difficult to keep up with blogging and my other favourite blogs. I hope to correct it soon once I find the rhythm back.
Until then, I hope you all had a swell Easter gorging on all the wonderful chocolate laden goodies and some warm, fresh out of the oven – Hot Cross Buns.