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Recipe: Hot Cross Buns

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Joined: Mar 12, 2006

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Posted to Thread #1325 at 3:17 pm on Apr 1, 2006

Hot Cross Buns
Makes 24
(from The Bread Book, by Linda Collister and Anthony Blake)

[The recipe says to mix these in a bowl. Do not be tempted to use your stand mixer. For some reason the buns are much, much better and lighter when mixed and kneaded by hand. Also, these British buns are not as sweet or spicy as what we're used to in North America, so I've added the quantities of each that I prefer. Some years I use the flour cross and other years I pipe an icing-sugar/water cross. But if you use icing sugar, of course it'll melt when you toast them, and they are best toasted. They freeze beautifully. If anyone counts carbos, these are 48 g each with my additional sugar.]

8 cups unbleached white bread flour
1/2 cup + 1 tbsp sugar [I use 1 1/4 cups]
2 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice {I use generous 2 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp ginger, 1 tsp coriander, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1/2 tsp allspice]
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups mixed dried fruit, such as dark and golden raisins, currants, and chopped mixed candied citrus peel [I bring these to a boil with a few tbsp of rum and let soften for 1/2 hour; drain then add to dough]
2 envelopes (5 tsp) active dry yeast [or 2 0.6-ounce cakes fresh yeast]
2 cups lukewarm water
3/4 cup nonfat dry milk [I've used 2% milk and less water with no noticeable difference]
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs, beaten
1 large egg beaten with 1 tbsp milk for eggwash

Heat the oven to its lowest setting. Mix together the flour, sugar (reserving 1 tsp if using dry yeast), spices, salt and fruit in a large bowl. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture. Put the bowl in the oven for 5 minutes or so to warm the ingredients while you prepare the yeast.

Mix the dry yeast and reserved 1 tsp sugar with 1/2 cup lukewarm water and let stand until foamy, 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in the milk powder and remaining lukewarm water. (If using fresh yeast, crumble it into a bowl. Stir in all the water and the milk powder until smooth.) Then stir in the butter until melted.

Pour the yeast mixture into the well in the warmed flour mixture. Add the eggs and blend together with the yeast mixture with a small whisk or your hands. With your hand or a wooden spoon, gradually work the flour from the bowl into the yeast mixture to make very soft but not sticky dough. If the dough is dry and crumbly, work in water, 1 tbsp at a time. If too sticky, work in flour, 1 tbsp at a time.

Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic. Return the dough to the bowl. Cover with a damp dish towel and let rise at warm room temperature until doubled in size, 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Punch down the dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently for 5 minutes until very smooth and elastic. Weigh the dough and divide it into 24 equal portions [mine average 95 g], or roll it into a fat rope and cut it into 24 pieces. Shape each portion into a roll by cupping your hand over a ball so your fingertips and wrist touch the work surface. Gently but fairly rapidly rotate your hand so dough is rolled around and smoothed into a neat roll.

Arrange fairly close together, but not touching, on a greased large baking sheet. [Silicone liners work perfectly.] Cover with a damp dish towel and let rise at warm room temperature until the buns have almost doubled in size and have joined together, 30 to 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 500F. While the buns are rising, make the topping:

1/2 cup cake flour
2 tbsp sugar
6-8 tbsp water

In a small bowl mix together the flour and sugar with enough of the water to make a thick, smooth paste. Spoon the paste into a small pastry bag fitted with a narrow plain tip. [Or use a small ziploc bag and snip a corner off.]

With the back of a table knife, make an indentation about 1/4-inch deep in the shape of a cross on the top of each bun. Brush the buns with the eggwash. Pipe a cross of the flour paste over the indentation on each bun.

Put the buns in the oven, then immediately lower the oven temperature to 400F. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the buns are nicely golden brown. Transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool.


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