Friday 25 March 2016

Hot Cross Buns

It's Easter, so it would be wrong not to make up a batch of these. Hot Cross Buns are probably my favourite part of Easter (it's certainly not the weather, as it looks like we are in for a soaking over the next few days), and I've never made them before, so what better to do on a Bank Holiday afternoon?

The recipe was taken from Mary Berry's Baking Bible, and it all went pretty much to script, apart from the proving time taking far longer than anticipated (probably as the house is quite cool). I was, however, determined not to resort to trying to warm the dough, as I have a habit of overdoing it, and ending up with mis-shapen breads. I also took extra care during the shaping to apply the concept of "surface tesion" to the shape, and I was very happy to get a good rise on the final shape, rather than a slightly sad looking set of buns.

Hot Cross Buns - Recipe

Bun Ingredients

  • 450g strong white flour
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp ground mixed spice
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½tsp ground nutmeg
  • 7g fast action yeast
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 50g butter (melted and cooled)
  • 150ml tepid milk
  • 60ml tepid water
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 75g currants
  • 50g chopped candied peel

1) Put the flour, salt, spices ( mixed spice, nutmeg, cinnamon), yeast and sugar into a stand mixer bowl with the dough hook attached

2) Put the milk and water in a jug, and microwave until tepid (slightly warm to the hand)

3) Add the egg to the milk and whisk it in.

4) Pour the milk mixture into the bowl, and  start mixing slowly, to combine the liquid and dry ingredients

5) Add in the raisins and chopped peel

6) Once a dough has formed, continue to mix for 8-10 minutes. The dough is quite soft, so you may need to do some manual kneading to get the dough working properly.

7) Put the dough in an oiled bowl in a warm place for 1½ - 2 hours, until doubled in size

8) Turn the dough out onto a slightly floured surface, knock back and knead for 2-3 minutes.

9) Grease 2 baking trays

10) split the dough into 12 equal portions (I weighed them out, and it worked out at 80g each)

11) For each portion, roll it on the work surface with your hand lightly cupped over it, in a circular motion, to form a neat ball

12) Place the ball of dough on the baking tray, and repeat for the other portions (put 6 balls on each tray, well spaced)

13) Return to the warm place to prove for another ½-1 hour, until doubled in size

14) Pre-heat oven to 200'C

Pastry Ingredients

  • 50g plain flour
  • 25g butter
  • 10-20ml cold water

1) Put the flour in a small mixing bowl

2) Rub in the butter until you get a breadcrumb texture

3) Add the water slowly to form a firm dough

4) Flatten to a thick disc, wrap in clingfilm, and chill for 10 minutes

5) Roll out the pastry very thin, on a floured surface (I used a silicone mat, and you could see the markings on the mat through the rolled out dough)

6) Cut 24 pastry strips about 10-12cm long, and 5-8mm wide

7) Once the buns have doubled in size, slightly moisten the outside with a little water, using a pastry brush

8) Onto each bun, stick 2 pastry strips, forming a cross on top, and gently press them on

9) Bake in the oven for 13-15 minutes, until browned, and hollow sounding when tapped

Syrup Ingredients

  • 20g caster sugar
  • 20ml water

1) Place the water and sugar in a small saucepan

2) Over a low heat, melt the sugar into the water, and bring to just a simmer

3) Remove from the heat

4) As the buns come out the oven, glaze each one with the sugar syrup to give hem a sticky coating

 I think the only way of easting hot cross buns is to slice them in half, toast them, and slap on some butter.