Sunday, March 18, 2012

Hot cross buns, Hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny...

Oh how I love the heady smells of yeast and baking bread in my kitchen but what I love more is taking out a batch of warm soft hot cross buns. Brown eyes and I love baking together in the kitchen - when asked what he wants to do while baby blue eyes is asleep (and it's mother-son time) he picks baking every time. We have been busy baking several versions of hot cross buns over the last few weeks in an attempt to bring you the BEST hot cross buns for you to bake in your kitchen for Easter. Without further ado, here is our recipe.

1 1/2 cups of full cream milk
2 tsp of dried yeast
1/4 cup caster sugar
60g butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 egg lightly whisked
4 1/2 cups of bread/pizza flour (see photo below) plus extra flour for dusting and kneading
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 cups currants
Here's the flour I used but you can use any flour you like.  However the more refined (ie 00 flour), the softer and bread-like your buns will be. Out of interest, the recipes that used plain flour were nice but a bit firmer in texture - I prefer my hot cross buns similar to the ones you buy from bakeries - soft and yummy!

Flour paste (for crosses)
50g plain flour (just the regular kind)
1/4 cup room temp water

2 TB apricot jam

Add the milk, yeast and sugar in a small bowl.
Heart Measuring Spoons

My son loved his 'pink' measuring spoons from Sweet Little Birdy!

Heart Measuring Cups

Mix and then place in a warm spot for 15 mins until frothy (hope you can see it looking frothy in the photo below)
Mini Mixing Bowl

While you are waiting for this to happen, sift the flour (yes I hate sifting too but if you want soft buns, I recommend this step) in a bowl with the salt and all the spices. I confess, I like to take shortcuts when I can, so as you can see from this pic, I put this step in a Sunbeam mixing bowl (or fancier versions like Kenwood or Kitchen aide if you are so lucky to own one... sigh..).

Mini Sifter
How cute is this sifter from Sweet Little Birdy? My little boy loved using it.

Now check your yeast mixture, if it's frothy, add the melted butter and whisked egg to your mixture.
Brown eyes likes to be involved in every step, let's say breaking eggs (without shells in it) is challenging for my 3 year old so we used a remekin for this stage. And yes, he is dressed up as Captain Featherword!

Then make a well in your flour bowl and pour the smaller bowl (wet ingredients) into it.

Put your dough hooks on and wiz it up in your mixmaster for 2-3 minutes or until combined - this will make a very wet mixture (don't worry, it will come together). If you don't have a mix master with dough hooks, you will need to knead this for about 5 minutes until it comes together.

Then take your very wet mixture and place on a heavily floured bench and add the currants. Knead again until smooth and elastic (usually a few more minutes - but longer if you didn't use a mix master in the previous step).
Vintage Cookie Cutters

That's a camera posed photo - I kneaded it... my son was oh so very gentle when kneading it...bless!

Now place your dough in an oiled bowl (I sprayed our bowls with a vegetable spray). My son thought he was very special because he had his very own Sweet Little Birdy bowl with his dough it in. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave it to rest in a warm spot for about 1-2 hours or until doubled in size. We did this step then headed out for the morning.

And ta-da!

How I love baking bread!!

Then punch down your dough and knead again until smooth then divide it into as many pieces as you want and put them in a greased tin. As you can see below, I prefer small kid-size ones for little mouths. This mixture should give you about 15 adult sized hot cross buns. Cover again with a damp tea towel and leave it to rise for about 15-30mins or until they have increased in size. I confess that when I did this step, I was on the phone and forgot to take a photo. Here's what they looked like after resting for 15 mins... the buns weren't originally touching, and now they are.
While you are waiting for your buns to rise a second time, make your flour paste for your crosses and preheat your oven to 200 degrees (fan forced).
Here's my cheat way for making the flour paste... one less bowl I say! mix the flour (50g) and water (1/4 cup) with a spoon in the bag and then snip the corner and pipe away (your crosses on your risen buns I mean!)

Bake in your preheated oven at 200 degrees for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 180 degrees and bake for a further 15-20 minutes (depending on the size of your buns) or until golden.
Turn onto a wire rack and heat your 2 TB of apricot jam in the microwave for 20secs and brush over the tops (most people strain their jams, I don't... but you can if you like).
What a difference a bit of jam makes!

Now for some notes.... if you like a bit of rind in your mix, feel free to add 1/4 cup of orange peel or the rind of 1 orange when you knead in your currants. (My taste testers all balked at version 2 which had orange peel in it). I like my buns with a good amount of spice in it so feel free to increase or decrease the spice mix according to your taste. And yes, if you have a bread maker, throw all the ingredients in and follow your bread maker instructions (in your manual) for a much easier and quicker process. Lastly these buns are best eaten within 2-3 days, I would freeze any that you are not going to finish in that time. We didn't have any left at our place to freeze....

Square Cake Stand

Sweet Little Birdy has the cutest cake stands, this is one of my favourites which I thought looked really pretty with the Easter Buns on it.

Baking is made so much more enjoyable when you watch your loved ones devour what you (and they!) made. I hope you have a very special Easter and if you have time, get out your baking things and make hot cross buns with your kids... we had a ball!

Yours in blogging


PS: This receipe is a combination of receipes that we trialled from, Martha Stewart and Gourmet Food Travellor - I am thankful for their inspiration.

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