Sunday, April 20, 2014

Hot Cross Buns


As someone who's baked professionally for more years than she would like to admit I'm a bit embarrassed to confess that I've never made hot cross buns.  So once again I find myself in a position of utter gratitude towards Sourdough Surprises for choosing them as April's bake off.

In my defense hot cross buns are really a British thing.  Although you see pale imitations of them in every market around Easter time.  Growing up we were more likely to be treated to an egg-y Easter bread than these spicy, fruity little buns.   

I more or less followed this recipe.  But to be perfectly honest I did sneak a bit of yeast in there as I'm not all too confident in my starter or my timing.  And baking with sourdough starter is all about timing.  As it was, these took a long time.  I began by feeding my starter on Saturday afternoon.  Fed it again Sunday morning and once that got going I started the buns.  They were done around dinner time Sunday evening.  While I'm not proud about adding yeast, I do need to crow about the fact that I resisted the urge to make the cross out of icing (you know how I love icing!) instead, opting for the intriguing mixture of flour and oil.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.  First I had to find out just what hot cross buns were all about, and here's what I came up with.  It's like someone said "This yeast roll is not good enough, lets add eggs and milk and sugar."  OK. "...and lemon rind, no, lemon and orange rind.  And spices." Cinnamon?  "Yes, cinnamon.  And nutmeg and cardamom.  And cloves and nutmeg.  And dried fruit."  OK, like raisins and currants?  "Sure, if that's all you got.  But maybe candied citrus or apricots or figs or dates as well."  Fine, is that it?  "NO, how 'bout a cross on the top, could be sweet, could be savory. And..."  I'm waiting.  "Brush them all with apricot preserves or honey, right as they come out of the oven!"

Thus, a classic was born.  They're not as much trouble as they sound and are certainly adaptable to your own tastes and what you have on hand.  The best part is they're delicious!  A real treat and a marked improvement over plain old Easter bread (although that's pretty good too).  Of course, spectacular out of the oven with a pat of salted butter and more apricot preserves.  And also not too shabby toasted the next day, if anything the flavors were even more pronounced.  But wait, there's more (are you not surprised), I froze a few of them, and after they thawed I grilled them up in a hot, butted cast iron pan.  Whoa mama!  I'll be singing "Hot Cross Buns" at Easter from now on!

sourdough hot cross buns (adapted from Nourishing Joy)

3 & 1/2 cups bread flour
zest of one orange
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup raw cane sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon allspice
2 eggs (one for brushing)
1/2 cup warm milk
1/2 cup warm water
1 teaspoon yeast (optional)
1 cup well fed sourdough starter 
3/4 cup currants
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons soft butter
1/2 more cup flour (for cross)
2 tablespoons olive oil (for cross)
enough water to make a paste of the flour and oil
1/3 cup warm apricot jam

Mix together flour, orange and lemon zest, sugar and spices.  Beat in one egg, milk, water, yeast (if you need to) and sourdough starter.  Beat until a sticky dough forms.  Cover and let the dough rest for 20 minutes.

Add the salt and currants and then the butter, bit by bit. Knead for 20 minutes by hand or 10 minutes by mixer.  Dough will by soft and no longer sticky.

Place dough in a lightly butter bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place for an hour.  After an hour punch down dough and knead briefly, return to bowl and let rise one more hour.

Divide dough into 12 and form into rolls. Place in a buttered 8X12 baking pan.  Cover and let rise 2 to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Beat remaining egg and over the buns.  Make a paste of the flour, oil and water. Fill a pastry bag, fitted with a small round tip, with the paste.  Make crosses on top of the buns.  Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until buns are golden.  Brush with apricot jam while still warm.






 



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22 comments:

  1. I have never seen crosses done corner-to-corner. I'm worried it might be heretical! :P

    Anyway.... looks like a lovely light crumb!

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    1. Thank you! Yes, I think you might be right about the crosses but I did it anyway! Looks more like hot rebel buns!!

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  2. These look just about perfect! I like that idea of adding a bit of yeast - my sourdough starter is SO SLOW, especially with a fruity, spiced, enriched dough...

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    1. Thank you, my thoughts exactly Korena. I had a lot invested in these little guys and I wanted something I could enjoy in the end.

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  3. They look so good! Nice crumb and texture.

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  4. How fabulous yours look! I had never made hot cross buns either-- so glad we got this prompt!

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    1. Thanks! Seriously, I can't believe how tasty they are!

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  5. These look so so good (mine were not nearly this pretty). Great job

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    1. Thank you! They actually turned out far better than expected. Although I did go tradish on the flavor, next time I want to try out some of these other amazing buns!

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  6. They look amazing! And your pictures make me want to dive into the screen...

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  7. Delicious! What lovely hot cross buns! :) haha, you are right, it is like someone just went whole hog when creating them, huh? :) Great idea about toasting them in a hot cast iron! I am sooo doing that with one tomorrow!

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    1. Thanks GW! Another truly wonderful sourdough surprise from you two sweeties!

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  8. I love this post - it's so like what I did - I had to learn what they were before I could choose a recipe to make :) Your hot cross buns look so delicious. Really great job!

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  9. Thanks Shelley, this is what' so great about Sourdough Surprises- the learning and the eating!

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  10. Good for you for making the paste out of the flour and oil mixture. I almost did that, but decided to use icing at the last minute. I also like the way your buns turned out baked close together in the pan. They look great!

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    1. Thanks Cathy, I love learning new tricks like that. Of course, for next time I'm itching to do an icing version!

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  11. Gorgeous! I'm going to have to try glazing mine next year. And maybe adding a little yeast to help them out.

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    1. Thanks Rebecca! I'm not an expert on sourdough and certainly not a purist so with everything going on in these buns it just made sense to add some yeast.

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  12. My starter can be sooooo slow sometimes. I almost added a pinch of yeast myself. Next month may have a pinch.

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    1. Yes, patience was never my strong suit!

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