Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Hot cross buns (a)


I love easter. Easter to me has never been about chocolate. as a child, we never received easter eggs. instead, easter to me is time spent with cross buns for breakfast on good fridays. going to church at 3pm. eating fish and potatoes and salad for dinner on friday night. a normal saturday usually involving house cleaning, and then on sunday, a celebratory mass and breakfast with friends and family.
one of the greatest things about easter is hot cross buns. i LOVE hot cross buns. straight out of the oven, the rasins hot enough to burn your tongue, the spicy sweet bread, the chunks of melting butter and the shortcut pastry crosses reminding us of why we celebrate.

so, i decided that i would make some hot cross buns this year. it took me about 3 hours...mostly because of the shortcut pastry to make the crosses. there is an easier way to do it, and i am going to write it the easy way. also, it took ages because i made two batches. but it was TOTALLY worth it :D

Hot Cross Buns

1/2 c boiling water
1 c milk
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbspn dried yeast
2 c flour
100g butter
1/2 c brown sugar
1 egg
1 tspn salt
1 1/2 tbsp mixed spice
1 tspn grated nutmeg
1 tspn vanilla
1-1 1/2 c mixed fruit
2-3 c flour

1/2 c flour (about)
1/4 c water (about)

1 egg white

Measure milk, water and sugar into a large bowl and warm (or cool) to body temperature. sprinkle yeast granules overtop and stir to dissolve. Mix in the first measure of flour and cover bowl with plastic bag. leave mix to rise in warm/sunny spot until risen to three times the size.
In another bowl, beat butter and sugar until creamy. beat in egg, spices, salt and mix in fruit.

Add the creamed mix to the dough base and mix. add 2 cups of the second lot of flour and mix well (add flour in 1/2 c increments and use your hands to mix at the end) keep adding flour a little at a time until the dough is no longer sticking to the bowl/hands. turn dough onto bench and knead (remember: fold and push) until it has a satin sheen and springs back when poked.
Place baking paper on a shallow tray. Split dough into 4 pieces, and then each piece into 7-8. roll into a round ball (about golf ball size) and place on the tray, leaving enough room to rise. once tray is full, cover with plastic bag and leave in sunny/warm spot to rise while you make the mix for crosses. Preheat oven to 240 degrees.
for the crosses, place 1/2 c flour in a bowl. add water (a little at a time) to make a paste - should be a runny consistency, but thickish. place mix into a piping bag (see tips if you dont have one) and then pipe ontop of the hot cross buns.

Lightly beat egg white and use a pastry brush to bush the top of the buns with it to give them a glossy finish.
Place buns in oven and cook for 10-15 minutes - until lightly browned
Eat hot with big slabs of butter

if you want to make shortcut pastry crosses (alot harder) rub 60g of butter with 1 c of flour. add about 1/4 c water to make a dough. roll out into long skinny strips (like making playdough worms when you were little). cut into strips about 3cm long and place ontop of buns in cross shapes.
if you dont have a piping bag, use a ziplock bag instead. put the mixture into one corner of the ziplock bag. cut off the corner of the bag to make a small hole and pipe the mix through the hole.
freeze hot cross buns once cool if you arent gonna eat them straight away - otherwise they will go stale!

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