I am not religious or traditional in any way. But I LOVE celebrations of any kinds especially when it involve special foods. I hope you can already see why I’d probably like hot cross buns quite a lot.
Lent is sorta a nice food time for me. One of the reasons is that fast food restaurants that don’t normally serve a fish sandwich, like Wendy’s, usually do serve one up during Lent. The other one of course, is the title of the post, hot cross buns. They are available in many stores during this time of the year.
What is a hot cross bun? Any old bun with a cross piped on top is a hot cross bun? Well, no. I am told by the internet theoretically your cross needs to be baked into the bun for it to be the proper hot cross bun, also, traditionally it should contain dried fruit. But it’s the century of the Fruit bat now you can have different things in it like chocolate chips, shredded coconut(!!), and the cross doesn’t even have to be baked on, you can just pipe some icing on and they’d be fine.
WELL. PARDON ME if I have a strong opinion but icing on sweet bread is gross and I won’t let those into my household! Also I really like spicy dry fruity bread so I will accept no substitute for my own pleasure. SO! I said I wanted to make more bread this year, this might as well be the time to try a new bread!
The recipe I have chosen, is once again, a Paul Hollywood one. I know, I know, but really the reason I chose it is because it contain fresh apples! Just from the get go it sounded like it’d be very tasty. Even though BKH scoffed at the idea of hot cross buns with APPLES, pfft, heathens. I thought apple would be the perfect thing to go with the spices and all.
This is an enriched dough, but since it doesn’t need a starter dough like Panettone, you can get it all done within the day. …. though it will be most of that day. You will be actively working on the dough only for an hour? or so. It is just a lot of resting and proofing, but it is very worthwhile!
500g Bread Flour, plus extra for dusting
10g Active Dry Yeast
40g Unsalted Butter at room temperature
2 Eggs, beaten
120ml Warm Whole Milk (Warm like body temperature at least)
120ml Cool Water
80g Mixed Peel
Zest of 2 Oranges
1 Apple, cored and diced (I tried both Fuji and Granny Smith, and preferred the Granny Smith, but you can use any dessert apples you like)
2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
1/2 Tsp Ground Nutmeg (I added it because lots of recipe has nutmeg and I like it)
For the Cross:
75g AP Flour
For the Glaze:
75g Apricot Jam(or peach, or strained marmalade)
1. In a large bowl, add flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Make sure the yeast and salt are not touching! Then add in butter, milk, eggs and half of the water and start mixing. You can do this in the mixer, I did it by hand on Paul’s suggestion in the video. Once the mixture is coming together in a soft dough, turn it over on a lightly floured surface and start kneading.
What you are aiming for is a smooth dough that doesn’t stick to you or any surface, just mostly to itself. It would also be a good candidate for a window pane test. Once dough is ready, put it back into a bowl and let it proof in a warm spot for at least an hour, or until double in size.
2. In a different bowl, combine zest, sultana, mixed peel and spices. Core and dice your apple into tiny pieces. This next bit is a bit messy, because of all the sticky fruits and fresh apple, I’d suggest you work this in the bowl rather than on the counter. Punch down the dough, pour the fruits in and try to fold the dough over on the fruits. Keep doing it until you have mixed all the fruits into the dough. As the apples are fresh, they will get a bit squishy and wet and add moisture in your dough. You can dust some extra flour into the dough to help counteract the extra moisture. But take care not to add more than you need. I’d also highly recommend you do this by hand, the dough hook will destroy the fruits and add even more moisture into your dough. Once everything is mixed in, put it back to the warm spot and let proof for another hour, or double in size. You know the drill. :>
3. Flour the counter as needed, take the dough out and divide it into two. The recipe calls for you to divide the dough into 12 balls. I find them a bit on the large side, so what I ended up doing is dividing them up into balls about 55-60g. I ended up with 23 little balls of dough and I like this size better. Put all the little dough balls onto a baking sheet, you can leave them close to each other as we want them to grow into each other. Proof for another hour, or you know, double in size.
4. Preheat your oven to 220°c/428°f. Onto the cross mixture. Mix equal amount of flour and water, put in a piping bag either using a round small tip or just cut the end of the bag off. Pipe the crosses onto the buns. I highly recommend watching the video for this step for the technique. But bear in mind the mixture can get stringy and it’d be hard to have them perfect. Just try to the best of your ability.
5. Bake for 20 minutes. If you know your oven has a hot spot, turn your trays around midway to ensure even browning of the surface. Once they come out of the oven, brush the jam over whilst the buns are still hot.
I think this dough can be adapted fairly easily to be an everyday sweet buns. Skip the cross, change the spices/fruits and it can be a brand new tasty bun. I think I might make them again in slightly different fashion.
Also. I just found out that it hasn’t been the Century of Fruit Bat for a very long time in the Discworld books. Obviously I am still stuck in the last century in my old ways. Oops!