Easter baking part 1: hot cross buns

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Today marks the start of my Easter baking week (and it’s also Palm Sunday, coincidentally). I don’t really follow any religious traditions but more holidays mean more baking, which is never a bad thing is it? So this year I thought I’d make hot cross buns for the first time.

I love everything bread, don’t even mention sweet bread. My buns were slightly bland, but I’m guilty of not adding enough spice. Let’s just say my cloves and cardamom weren’t ground, and I only had (still have) the pepper mill to grind them. But the texture was still great, and you can’t say no to a perfectly good roll, now can you?

Now for some notes on making these. Since they’re kind of brioche like I chose to use pastry flour, which should create a more tender texture. But that’s just me, really, all purpose flour would be fine too. The recipe called for 3 1/4 – 3 1/2 cups of flour. I used 3 1/4 cups and the dough’s texture was perfect, but it really depends on the size of the eggs and they way you measure your flour.

(Here’s what the dough looked like)

You can use any kneading method you like. I chose to let my bread machine do the work :) You can also add candied orange peels as well as raisins. Then when you shape the buns, if you want to score the tops, you have to make deep cuts, or they will be lost when baking (that’s what happened to mine). And lastly, you can decorate them with regular icing or add some cream cheese to the mix.

(The buns ready for the oven)

Hot cross buns

Recipe from Simply Recipes
Yield: 16 buns

For the foam:

1/4 cup warm milk
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

For the dough:

3 1/4 to 3 1/2 cups flour (pastry or all purpose)
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground spices (for example, 1/2 teaspoon cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/4 teaspoon cloves, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg)
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup warm milk
4 tablespoons butter (2 ounces)
2 eggs
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
3/4 cup currants (3,5 ounces)

For the glaze:

1 egg
1 tablespoon milk

For the icing:

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk

1. Form the foam by stirring together the milk and sugar, then sprinkling the yeast and mixing to dissolve. Let sit, covered, for 5 to 10 minutes.
2. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, salt, spices, and sugar.
3. Mix the foamy yeast, milk, softened butter, eggs and orange zest.
4. Proceed with your kneading method. You can create a well in the flour with the wet ingredients inside, and knead by hand or with a stand mixer. Or you can use a bread machine, placing the wet ingredients on the bottom and the dry ones on top. Add the raisins towards the end of kneading.
5. Form a ball of dough in the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit, covered, in a warm spot for 2 hours (or in the bread machine if using one).
6. Press down on the dough to gently compress it. Divide it into 16 pieces and roll them into balls, placing them 1 1/2 inches apart from each other on a baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1/2 – 1 hour.
7. Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare egg wash by whisking together one egg and a tablespoon of milk. Using a pasty brush, brush on the egg wash over the dough mounds. If you want, you can score the top of the buns with a knife in a cross pattern.
8. Place in the middle rack of the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes (mine took about 20 minutes), until the buns are lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool on the pan for a few minutes, then transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool.
9. To paint a cross on the top of the buns, wait until they have cooled. Whisk together the milk and the powdered sugar, and place in a pastry or ziploc bag. Snip off a small piece from the corner of the bag and pipe two lines of frosting across each bun to make a cross.

Step 10, nom.

(Don’t mind the dirt)

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