Monday, 29 December 2008

Hot Cross Buns

I have to admit, until I baked these, I had never even tried hot cross buns. They were something that I always wanted to bake though, so when Bread Baking Day #15 announced festive or traditional breads - I knew it would be the perfect time to make them.
I have since learned that they are associated more with Easter and Lent than the New Year, but I think they make for a wonderful winter breakfast with clementines and hot coffee or cocoa.

I opted to replace the candied orange peel with chopped dried apricot, not being a huge lover of candied peel. I think this recipe is pretty forgiving with substitutions.
The aroma of the sweet, spicy rolls in the oven is pure heaven, I simply cannot stop eating them. I will definitely have to make more soon.
My only trouble? I temporarily lost all ability to count or perform rudimentary math skills. To get the 12 pieces - first I cut in a grid and got 9, (and didn't notice until they were all nicely rolled). Then I smushed them back together and did it again and got 16. Finally I rolled the pieces together and got 8. The rolls would have been happier (and rounder) with less fooling around. The 8 made for a nice size, I'm not complaining.

Hot Cross Buns - A Baker's Tour, Nick Malgieri
For Bread Baking Day #15, Festive Breads, hosted by Annarasa: Essence of Food

1/2 cup milk
2 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup unbleached all purpose flour

1 2/3 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp each ground cinnamon, ground cloves, ground nutmeg, and ground ginger
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened, cut into 10 pieces
1 large egg
2/3 cup currants
1/4 cup finely diced candied citron or orange peel (I used dried apricot)

2 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp water

2/3 cups confectioners sugar
2 tsp water

1 cookie sheet or jelly roll pan, lined with parchment

1. For the sponge, heat the milk to lukewarm, no more than 110f. Pour warm milk into a medium bowl and whisk in the yeast. Use a rubber spatula to stir in the flour, then cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let the sponge ferment until it is bubbly, about 15-20 minutes.

2. Once the sponge is ready, prepare the dough. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, and spices int he bowl of an electric mixer and stir well to mix. Place on the mixer with the paddle attachment and add the butter. Mix until the butter is finely worked in, about 2 minutes.

3. Remove the bowl from the mixer and scrape in the sponge. Add the egg and return to the mixer with the paddle. Mix on lowest speed for 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.

4. Mix the dough again on medium speed until it is smooth and elastic, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to lowest and add the currants and candied fruit. Mix until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.

5. Scrape the dough into a buttered bowl and turn the dough over so that the top is buttered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise until it is doubled in size about 1 hour.

6. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and press it into a rough square. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces with a knife of bench scraper.

7. Round each piece by pressing it under the palm of your hand as you rotate your hand around the dough. Arrange the buns on the prepared pan and press a cross into the top of each bun with the back of the blade of a table knife. Cover the pan with a towel or buttered plastic wrap and allow the buns to rise until they are almost doubled, about 45 minutes.

8. About 15 minutes before the buns are completely risen, set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375f.

9. Bake the buns until they are deep golden and feel light, about 15-20 minutes. just before the buns are finished baking, bring the sugar and water for the glaze to a boil. Brush the glaze on the buns as soon as they come out of the oven.

10. Slide the paper from the pan to a rack to cool the buns.

11. For the icing, combine the confectioners' sugar and water in a small saucepan and stir well to mix. Place over low heat, and stir until the icing is just warm to the touch. Scrape the icing into a paper cone or a small plastic bag and snip the corner. Pipe a cress on the top of each cooled bun, following the indentation made before baking. Let the icing dry for 30 minutes before serving.

This bread is Yeastspotted!