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Hot Cross Buns

It’s Good Friday, so it seemed appropriate to make Hot Cross Buns. It also fits in nicely with this weeks Weekend Cookbook Challenge.

I used the recipe from “The Complete Book of Baking”, (published by Landsdowne in 1984. ISBN: 0 7018 15027) on page 34.

I’ve reproduced it here, with my own method, as the one in the book didn’t seem quite right. I also changed the glaze, as I’ll describe later.


h2. Ingredients.

h3. For the Buns

* 1 cup of milk (tepid)
* 15 g of dried active yeast
* 4 cups plain flour
* one third of a cup of brown sugar
* 2 teaspoons of salt
* 0.25 teaspoons of ground ginger
* 0.25 teaspoons of ground coriander seeds
* 0.5 teaspoons of dutch cinnamon
* 0.5 teaspoons of ground nutmeg
* 0.5 teaspoons of ground allspice (pimento)
* a sprinkle of ground cloves
* 60 g of melted butter
* 2 eggs
* 2 Tablespoons of currants
* 1 Tablespoon of cognac
* 1 Tablespoon of chopped dried apricots
* a quantity of short crust pastry (I used Pampas Shortcrust sheets, but feel free to make your own)

h3. For the Glaze

* 4 Tablespoons of water
* 3 to 5 Tablespoons of castor sugar
* a few drops of vanilla essence

h2. Method.

The original recipe called for combining the yeast with 1 Tablespoon of the warm milk and a pinch of sugar. This does not work, you end up with paste rather than a slurry. Thus I’d recommend putting 5 or 6 Tablespoons of warm milk, two pinches of sugar and the yeast and creaming it with a fork or small whisk.
Leave it for 15 minutes or so and it will foam.

While you’re waiting, sift the flour, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl. Add the brown sugar and mix well (you could attempt to sift that too, but I wouldn’t recommend it). Form a deep well in the middle.

Now combine the melted butter, eggs and a little milk, beating together well with a fork.

In a separate bowl, place the currants and cognac and leave to soak.

Once the yeast is ready, pour it and the butter/egg/milk mix into the well in the flour. Stir with a wooden spoon, slowly expanding the radius of your stirring arc, combining more flour as you go. Add a little more milk as you need it to form a dough. If the dough becomes too sticky, add a little more flour.

Tip out onto a lightly floured bench and knead until combined. Add the fruit and knead through until all the fruit is evenly distributed and the dough is quite springy.

Place the dough back in the bowl (I’d recommend cleaning the bowl, and greasing it with a little butter), cover with a tea-towel and leave to rise for 2 hours.

Turn out the dough and knead until springy again. Now divide the dough evenly into 20 pieces. Shape into balls (or as near as you can) and place on a greased baking tray. Cover with the tea-towel and allow to rise for another 30 mins.

Pre-Heat your oven to 190C, and place the rack in the middle position.

Carefully slice a cross into each bun. Now slice lengths of pastry, wet the underside and place them on the crosses to form pasty crosses. Alternatively, if you’re more creative, cut fancy cross shapes out of the pasty and use those. (I had planned to make little Maltese crosses on mine, but for one reason or another, didn’t).

Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the tray at 10 mins.

While they’re baking, take a small saucepan (I used a Turkish coffee pan), boil the water and add sugar, stirring until it’s syrupy. Add the vanilla essence and stir some more. You can remove from the heat if the buns aren’t ready yet and reheat as necessary when they come out.

Once the buns are ready, brush the sugar syrup glaze over each bun, then repeat until all the syrup is used. Two or three layers of glaze is plenty, if you’ve still got glaze left after that, stop.

Leave to cool slightly for a few minutes so the glaze sets. You can then cut and butter them and serve to the appreciative hoards.


h3. Notes.

The original recipe called for Mixed Spice – I’ve included the individual ingredients for a tastier spice mix.
The original glaze used milk instead of sugar. You end up with, well, sweetened condensed milk (or close to it), and the buns end up looking semi-iced (see top picture, furthest two rows). Thus I switched to a sugar syrup glaze instead for a more traditional look.
The original recipe also contained an alternative cross making section (it suggested shortcrust pastry too), consisting of piping a mix of 4 Tablespoons of self-raising flour combined with 2 Tablespoons of water, onto the buns. This produces a more traditional look, but the flavour of the glazed shortcrust pastry is, in my opinion, preferable.

posted to Breads and Baking,Breakfast,Dessert,Recipes @ 4:59 pm

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  • At 9:38 pm on 21 April, 2006, Alanna commented:

    I’ve been making hot cross buns for years but until this year, never saw anything but icing for the crosses. (Thank you, food bloggers!) Yours look beautiful!

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