Oh to have a stand mixer to make hot cross buns! With a dough hook.What galls me with cookery books sometimes is that their instructions just aren’t sufficient: knead until dry and no longer sticky – that’s all it states in the cookery book this recipe is based on. It’s just not enough information. And I’m not exactly a novice either as I did study to be a chef. Okay, not a pastry chef. There’s a difference. But I did learn about bread making. So I know the principles behind the necessity of kneading. I just couldn’t remember what to look out for, or when it’s time to stop. In this case it seems to be even more difficult as the dough is spiced and full of dried fruit, an enriched dough. So the dough itself, regardless of kneading it until I was nearly blue in the face, doesn’t end up dry and elastic anyway. Certainly not like normal bread dough should. Here’s a link that helped enormously: How to knead bread dough. The video itself is only 1.58 mins duration and invaluable. Suffice to say the ingredients list and instructions below are based on my third attempt at making these. And I’m so glad I persevered as they turned out beautifully.
Following text is from the original post (first attempt): These tasted far nicer than they look! And are even more flavourful at room temperature. In that case, why are they called hot cross buns? Were they served hot in the past? I’ve no idea of the actual history of these. And they’re not something I had growing up. As they’re possibly more of an English type bun. Certainly they’re for sale in practically every shop in Southern England at this time of year. Yet, it’s something I would never normally contemplate buying. Partly as they’re usually made with currants, that just aren’t my favourite. So, like my Easter biscuits, I’ve gone with raisins instead. That aside, there’s a slight problem with these. And it’s not purely as this is the first time for me to bake with yeast. The book I’ve taken the recipe from informs, at the end of their brief instructions, that it’s possible to prepare the dough and leave it overnight in the fridge to prove. Great! That’s exactly what I did, after going online to check the equivalent amount of fast action yeast to use. As it’s the only yeast available locally. What I didn’t realise is that this sort of yeast isn’t really suitable for overnight proving – certainly not for these. Oh yes it is! Third attempt worked beautifully, thanks.
Oops! It didn’t occur to me to check that aspect of. Because of that, even though my dough rose beautifully there was no further rise. As in just before and during baking. And these turned out too dense for my liking. So! When I was out food shopping earlier I happened to squeeze a pair of buns (now, now! Less tittering, please.) in the local supermarket, just to compare. Shop-bought are almost as dense but have a softer crust. Hah, a very definite learning curve going on. At least, and at last, I’ve gotten over this fear of using yeast. Especially as my flat is so very cold and damp – even during summer. As the fast action yeast worked wonderfully well that in itself is massively encouraging to start baking breads with yeast from now on. And this isn’t going to be the last of these particular buns, either. As I’m hoping to make another batch next week. When I’ll prove the dough for a couple of hours at room temperature instead (which I did, but far better to prove overnight). That way I’ll be able to compare notes and update this post with any changes. In the meantime, think of this as an ongoing project.
And it’s Fiesta Friday #11. If you click on the icon directly below it’ll take you over to the fabulous Angie’s cyber party, which I missed last time. Let’s hope the guests don’t show their disapproval and use these buns as missiles!
Hot Cross Buns
PREP: at least 1 hour ~ COOK: 17 – 18 mins oven time ~ READY IN: 24 hours – dough has to prove overnight
ADDITIONAL EQUIPMENT NEEDED: baking trays + mixing bowls + silicon spatula + cling film
INGREDIENTS: with details of the original recipe in square [ ] brackets
Bread recipe from: Good Housekepping’s Country Cooking by Elizabeth Ray
- 100g (3.527 oz) x strong (bread) flour, sifted
- 7g (2.646 oz) x fact action dried yeast [25g (0.882 oz) fresh yeast OR 15ml or 1 level tablespoon dried yeast + 1 level teaspoon caster sugar]
- 1 x teaspoon golden granulated unrefined natural cane sugar
- 200ml (6.763 fl oz) x full fat organic milk, heated but only tepid
- 350g (12.35 oz) x strong (bread) flour, sifted + extra for dusting a work surface
- 1 x teaspoon table salt
- 1 x teaspoon ground mixed spice [1/2 x teaspoon]
- 1/2 x teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/4 – 1/2 x teaspoon ground ginger (next time I would use 1/2) [not in recipe]
- 1/4 x teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, grated using the puckered side of a box grater [1/2 x teaspoon]
- 1/2 – 1 x teaspoon ground cardamom [not in recipe]
- 50g (1.764 oz) x golden granulated natural unrefined cane sugar [same amount caster sugar (superfine)]
- 50g (1.764 oz) x unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 x organic egg, beaten
- 100g (3.527 oz) x raisins [currants]
- 40g (1.411 oz) x mixed peel, chopped [25g (0.882 oz) x mixed peel]
- sunflower oil, to oil the bowl used for proving dough
For the glaze:
- 60ml (2.029 fl oz) or 4 tablespoons x semi-skimmed long-life milk
- 3 x tablespoons golden granulated natural unrefined cane sugar [same amount caster sugar]
For the pastry crosses (my recipe):
- 75g (2.646 oz) x plain (AP) flour
- 35g (1.235 oz) x unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/8 x teaspoon table salt
- 1 x tablespoon icing (confectioners) sugar
- 1/4 x teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, grated using the puckered side of a box grater
- 1 x tablespoon + 1 teaspoon cold water
Measurements within ( ) brackets above are approximate only.
INSTRUCTIONS: If using dry active yeast only! And instructions will be updated when my
second third batch of buns have been made.
- Sift the first 100g (3.527 oz) of flour, add the yeast and sugar (it’s probably not necessary to add the sugar as that’s for mixing a dry yeast) into a large mixing bowl. Have your milk to hand as it needs to be warm, but only just. Add to the flour mixture and stir to make a batter. Leave in a warm place until frothy (mine didn’t exactly froth, but did rise significantly) for about 30 minutes.
- Sift the second lot of flour into a separate bowl, then add the salt, spices and sugar. Add the butter and cut it into the flour with an eating knife, then blend the butter into the flour mixture with your hands until you get the texture of fine breadcrumbs. Beat the egg and add it to the flour mixture and mix thoroughly. Add the dried fruit and mixed peel and mix to combine. Pour or scrape in the flour/batter and combine to give a soft dough (that will leave the sides of the bowl).
- Scrape this out on to a lightly floured surface and knead until dry and no longer sticky (that’s the only advice given in the book). Mine took at least 20 minutes of serious kneading, and even then it wasn’t completely dry. It’s best to add a little flour to your hands rather than keep dusting the work surface as less flour will be incorporated into the actual dough. Knead firmly by using the ball of your hand, with the other hand twisting the dough in a circular motion, and moving your palm forward and stretching the dough. Bring it back into a ball shape, folding if necessary, and keep doing this. Remembering to flour your hands periodically. For a really good demonstration video (only 1.58 mins) then do click on: http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/techniques/kneading.
- Gather dough into a ball shape and place in a large bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover with cling film, that has been lightly oiled as well, and prove (in my case) overnight.
- Next day, make the pastry dough (which needs to rest for 30 minutes) for the crosses by adding those ingredients – except the water – to a large mixing bowl and, using a pastry blender, combine until the texture of breadcrumbs is achieved. Add the larger amount of water and mix by bringing this together with either a pastry blender or spatula. Do not over work. Add a little more water if necessary, bring that to a ball shape and set aside to rest. Cover bowl to prevent the pastry from drying out if necessary. When needed scrape the pastry out on to a floured surface. Knead lightly so the pastry is pliable. Roll into a log, or several if space is tight, and cut those logs into quarters, then roll out each log with a rolling pin until thinner and rectangular. Then cut slices of equal widths lengthways. Both sections or lengths of the cross need to be about 8 or 9 cm or 3 inches in length. And about 6mm or 1/4 inch wide.
- After proving the dough it states to knock out the air and knead again. This time I didn’t knead the dough again. Instead, after pressing into the dough whilst still in its bowl I simply emptied it out on to a lightly floured work surface and rolled it gently into a log shape, which I then cut in half. Each half was again shaped into a log and cut into 6 or more equal pieces. Roll those in the palms of your hands lightly, dusting your hands before doing so, and set on a baking sheet lined lightly greased with butter.
- Preheat oven to 200°C or 392°F.
- To add the crosses I did cut into the bun dough (as suggested within the site listed below) from 12 to 6 o’clock with a sharp knife. This isn’t necessary, as the buns can end up misshapen after baking. Instead, literally just make small cuts at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock close to where their base is, grab one length of pastry and place its end within 12, nip the bun dough slightly to keep the pastry in place, bring that cross section loosely over (do not stretch the pastry!) and into the cut at 6 and nip the dough again. Repeat with the other length of pastry from 3 to 9 o’clock and reshape, not only the cross itself but also the bun dough if necessary so it’s more circular and nicely domes. Repeat this process for all of the buns, placing each back on to the baking tray and straightening up the cross on each if necessary.
- According to info within this site on How to Make Hot Cross Buns (http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Hot-Cross-Buns) they do cut a cross into each one. As stated I don’t think this is necessary if adding the pastry cross. And they glaze theirs (with an egg wash) before baking. Which I wouldn’t do. If you don’t want to go with adding a pastry cross there are two other options. Firstly, cut a cross, as instructed in the video, with a very sharp knife. This is fairly traditional, apparently. Or, combine flour and water until a thick paste and pipe the pastry batter on to the tops of the buns before baking.
- Bake the buns on the second shelf up in the preheated oven for 17 to 18 minutes, according to size. Mine took 17 minutes in total.
- Remove from oven, glaze over their tops with a pastry brush held over a plate, or something large enough to catch any drips, as the glaze is very sticky. I transferred each bun on to a rack, placed the baking tray underneath to collect excess glaze, and then glazed them individually as otherwise the buns can and will stick to the baking tray itself. Allow to cool completely.
All photographs within (Todas las fotografías dentro de) Flours n Dainty Buns:
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