Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

I have been searching for the last couple of years for a recipe that recreates the hot cross buns I grew up with in New England. These are as close as I have ever come. They recall the Good Fridays of my childhood and the wonderful bakeries we had. I was going to make the white cross glaze but both grocery stores were out of confectioner’s sugar so I followed the recipe. These are always best out of the oven but they can be toasted or microwaved to warm up. It looks like a lot of steps but it really was easy. From www.recipetineats.com

Ingredients

BUNS:

  • 3 teaspoons instant or rapid rise yeast (9 grams), Note 1, CHECK still active!
  • 1/2 cup (110g) caster sugar (superfine sugar)
  • 1 1/2 cups (375ml) milk, warm , full fat or low fat (Note 2)
  • 4 1/4 cups (640g) bread flour (or plain / all purpose) (Note 3)
  • 2 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 2 tsp All Spice OR Mixed Spice (Note 4)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (210g) sultanas (Note 4)
  • 1 – 2 oranges, zest only (Note 4)
  • 50g / 3.5 tbsp  unsalted butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 egg , at room temperature

EXTRA FLOUR FOR DOUGH

  • 1/4 cup (35g) Extra bread flour

CROSSES:

  • 1/2 cup (75g) flour (any white flour)
  • 5 tbsp water

GLAZE:

  • 1 tbsp apricot jam (Note 7)
  • 2 tsp water

Instructions

  • Place flour, yeast, sugar, all spice, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl. Briefly mix with stand mixer fitted with a dough hook.
  • Add butter, milk, egg, sultanas and zest.
  • Standmixer: Mix until a smooth elastic dough forms – 5 minutes on Speed 2 of standmixer. After 1 minute, add extra flour if required, just enough so dough comes away from side of bowl when mixing and doesn’t stick terribly to your fingers. (Note 5).
  • Hand kneading: Alternatively, dust a work surface with flour and knead by hand for 10 minutes.
  • Dough is kneaded enough when it’s smooth and does not break when stretched – see photos video for before/after comparison.

RISE #1:

  • Leave dough in the bowl, cover with cling wrap and place in a warm, wind free place to rise until doubled in size. This will take anywhere between 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours depending on how warm it is – see Note 6.

FORMING BALLS:

  • Line a 31.5 x 23.5 cm / 9 x 13″ tray with baking paper with overhang.
  • Remove cling wrap and punch dough to deflate.
  • Dust work surface with flour, place dough on work surface, shape into a log – this will deflate the air. Cut into 12 equal pieces.
  • Take one piece and press down with palm, then use your fingers to gather into a ball, then roll the dough briefly to form a ball. This stretches the dough on one side and that’s how I get a nice smooth surface.
  • Place the ball with the smooth side up on the tray. Repeat with remaining dough. Line them up 3 x 4.

RISE # 2:

  • Spray a piece of cling wrap lightly with oil (any), then loosely place over the tray.
  • Return tray to warm place and leaver 30 – 45 minutes, until the dough has risen by about 75% (less than double in size).
  • Partway through Rise #2, preheat oven to 180°C/350°F (all oven types).

CROSSES:

  • Mix flour and water until a thick runny paste forms – see video for thickness required.
  • Spoon into a round 3 mm piping bag or small ziplock bag then snip corner.
  • Remove the cling wrap and pipe crosses onto the buns. Go slow so it hugs the curves.

BAKING/GLAZE:

  • Bake for 22 minutes, or until the surface is a deep golden brown. The surface colour is the best test for this recipe.
  • Meanwhile, place jam and water in a bowl, microwave for 30 seconds. Mix to combine.
  • Remove buns from oven. Use overhang to lift buns onto a cooling rack.
  • Brush with jam mixture while warm. Allow to cool to warm before serving.

Notes

1.  Yeast: Use any yeast labelled instant or rapid rise yeast. I use Lowan Dried Instant Yeast (red tube, sold at Woolies/Coles baking aisle). YEAST CHECK to ensure your yeast is still active (unless you just bought/opened a fresh bottle): mix 1 teaspoon yeast with 1/2 tsp white sugar and 1/4 cup warm water (40C / 100-110F). Leave 10 minutes. Foamy and creamy, smells yeasty = yeast is good. If no foam, it’s dead. Time to get another!Normal yeast / active dry yeast – same ingredients, but start as follows:

  • mix yeast, 2 teaspoons of the sugar and all the warm milk in the bowl, then leave 5 – 10 minutes until surface gets foamy;
  • add all the other ingredients (including remaining sugar minus the 2 tsp used above), then mix/knead per recipe; and
  • proceed with recipe as written.

Fresh yeast (comes in a block that crumbles, not powder like dry yeast) – use 27g/ 0.9 oz. Crumble it into the milk and let stand until it foams up, same as using active dry yeast per above.2. Milk warmth – Scalding hot milk kills the yeast. I heat it for 45 seconds on high in the microwave. The test is this: stick your finger in. If it was a bath, would it be pleasant? Good. It’s not too hot or too cold!3. Breads are also fluffier and more tender if made with bread flour rather than normal flour. However, this recipe works great with normal white flour too.Flour quantity – differs all year round, and with different flour brands. Start with 4 1/4 cups to be safe (better to start sticky and add more flour as required), expect to add an extra 1/4 cup. DO NOT add too much flour – results in dry dough = tough buns.4. Flavourings

  • Spices – All Spice is my default, but I also use Mixed Spice too and no one would ever know the difference. Sub with: 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp each cloves and nutmeg
  • Sultanas: Some recipes say to add sultanas after the dough has been kneaded or risen. If you do this, you’ll find it very hard to disperse them evenly throughout the dough. By adding them before kneading, some do get squished. But it’s not noticeable in the end result.
  • Orange – use 2 oranges if you want a more prominent orange flavour, or switch for 1/2 cup candied citrus peel.
  • Choc chips! Use 2 cups instead of the sultanas (any more and you end up with quite a gooey melted chocolate centre!)

5. Dough: Takes ~5 min, speed 2 with KitchenAide. Add the extra flour if required so the dough comes away from the bowl – the trick is to use the minimum to keep the dough soft so it rises easily (= fluffy buns), but just enough so the dough doesn’t massively stick to your fingers (should be bit sticky though). Tough dough from too much flour = tough buns!6. WARM PLACE for dough: This is what I do all year round – use my dryer. Laugh – but try it! Run the (empty) dryer for 1 – 2 minutes, then place the bowl inside. If you do that, the dough will rise in 40 minutes. Even if it’s snowing outside!7. Jam – sub with any jam to get the glossy finish. Apricot is best because it’s clear(ish). Red jams will have more colour. OR sub with honey or golden syrup (follow same amount and directions). Maple syrup – skip the water.8. STORING / MAKE AHEAD:

  • Make today, bake tomorrow – Do Rise #1 then follow steps to form the balls per the recipe and place in tray, ready to do Rise #2. Except put it in the fridge instead. Leave overnight. Then remove from fridge and put it in a very warm place. Once the fridge chill is gone and the dough is back at room temperature, it will then start the Rise #2 as per the recipe. It takes 2.5 – 3.5 hrs to finish Rise #2 after taking it out of the fridge. Then bake per recipe! (Bonus: They are even tastier if you make ahead because the dough develops flavour overnight!)
  • Best served on day it’s baked: As with all homemade bread, it is best served on the day it’s baked. Stays fresher and softer if you use bread flour.
  • For the day after, reheating makes all the difference to make them soft and moist again – 15 sec in the microwave! These freeze great, then just defrost. To reheat batches, I pop them on a tray and cover with foil (to avoid the surface getting too crisp), then reheat at 160C/320F for 8 minutes or so.
Teatime Scones

Teatime Scones

My mom makes the best ever scones. They were always a treat with tea. The other day I had a friend text me that she would be in the neighborhood and maybe we could get together for tea and a chat. She is from the U.K. so I wanted to have a “real” tea. I got out the teapot and whipped up a quick batch of scones. These are so easy to put together. You can also add golden raisins, dried fruit, crystalized ginger or any combination of sweet or savory additions. I did not have time to get mom’s recipe so I had this one which I believe is from Southern Living.

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Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 cup whipping cream, divided

Directions

Preheat oven to 450°. Stir together first 4 ingredients in a large bowl. Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender until crumbly and mixture resembles small peas.
Freeze 5 minutes. Add 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp. cream, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.

Turn dough out onto wax paper; gently press or pat dough into a 7-inch round (mixture will be crumbly). Cut round into 8 wedges. Place wedges 2 inches apart on a lightly greased baking sheet. Brush tops of wedges with remaining 2 Tbsp. cream just until moistened.

Bake at 450° for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden.

 

Variations

Chocolate-Cherry Scones: Stir in 1/4 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped, and 2 oz.coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate with the cream.

Apricot-Ginger Scones: Stir in 1/2 cup finely chopped dried apricots and 2 Tbsp. finely chopped crystallized ginger with the cream. Drizzle with Vanilla Glaze after baking.

Cranberry-Pistachio Scones: Stir in 1/4 cup sweetened dried cranberries and 1/4 cup coarsely chopped roasted salted pistachios with the cream.

Brown Sugar-Pecan Scones: Substitute brown sugar for granulated sugar. Stir in 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans with the cream.

Rosemary, Pear, and Asiago Scones: Omit sugar. Stir in 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh pear, 1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese, and 1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary with the cream.

Bacon, Cheddar, and Chive Scones: Omit sugar. Stir in 3/4 cup (3-oz.) shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, 1/4 cup finely chopped cooked bacon, 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives, and 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper with the cream.