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Monday, 18 April 2011

(not so) Hot n' Cross

(not so)Hot n Cross

 Easter: the one time of the year when it is OK (and almost mandatory) to gorge yourself on chocolate. In other words, my kind of holiday. And as a kid, Easter meant a trip up to the farm for a week or so, and my mum would pack half a dozen packs of  Tip Top hot cross buns, in the old cardboard boxes with the silver reflective layer on the inside (anyone else remember them?). If you heated them in the oven, they were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside (spreading the butter would make it all smushy), or toasted under the griller made for crispy all round. Super yum, especially on those cold Corryong mornings

Over the years, HC Buns have been assailed and mutated. We can now have choc chip, mocha and fruit free. Now call me a traditionalist, but if doesn’t have fruit in it (and peel – when did Those in Charge decide everyone disliked it??), you can’t call it a hot crossie; it’s a yeast bun at best. And I feel there is already enough chocolate around this time of the year without them being stuck in HC Buns to make them more palatable. So it’s time they fought back.

 I came across several recipes for make-your-own hot cross buns a few years ago, and loving them almost as much as chocolate, I thought I’d try it out. Although HC Buns appear in the shops earlier and earlier (I spied them on Boxing Day last year at my local Coles), I find a craving always appears September-October-ish, when the last few you saved in the freezer are a distant memory   . Trying each recipe, I took the Goldilocks approach (“this one is too cakey” “ this one isn’t spicy enough”) as well as quizzing my baker brother about yeast, and cobbled together this recipe. People are always amazed when they realise they are made from scratch (not even a breadmaker!), but it’s really not that tricky. The main thing you need is time for the yeast to rise (twice), but even so, I had this batch for my work colleagues out in about 2 hours. The golden syrup glaze is a nice cheat’s shortcut. The other thing that will improve your HC Bun experience is the butter. I used to buy home brand, not realising the range of brands or quality out in the market place. However, going for a high end or organic butter will make them taste that much better. Scout out a deli or a posh supermarket like Thomas Dux or David Jones food hall as experiment

 So if you’re at home on Friday (as blessedly, even the shops will be shut) and feeling adventurous, give them a try

K xx

Hot Cross Buns
1 TBSP yeast
½ cup caster sugar
1 ½ cups warm milk
4 ½ cups plain flour
2 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
50g butter, melted
1 egg
1 ½ cups mixed fruit and peel *
Crosses: 2-3 TBSP plain flour, water
Glaze: golden syrup

  1. place yeast, 2 tsp sugar and all of milk in a bowl Set aside for ~5 mins (the mixture will bubble to show the yeast is activated)
  2. in a bowl, mix flour, spices, egg, butter, fruit and sugar
  3. add yeast mixture and mix using a butter knife or spatula until a sticky dough forms
  4. knead dough on a lightly floured surface for ~ 5 mins.
  5. place in an oiled bowl
6. cover and stand in a warm place for 1 hr or until it doubles in size.

Bakers hint: put some boiling water in a sink (with the plug in) and place your cling-wrap covered bowl in this with a tea towel over the top (be careful not to let your towel dip into the water or you will end up with a wet towel!). This will help rising on those cool Melbourne days.

    Mixture doubled in size after 1 hr
    7. grease a baking tray and line with baking paper
    8. divide mixture in 12 (for large) or 20 (for medium) and roll into balls. place balls in tin
    with a few cm space between.
    9. Cover and set aside in a warm place for 30 mins to rise
    10. preheat oven to 200°C
    11. combine flour and water to make a thick paste
    12. using a piping set (or a plastic bag with the corner cut off), pipe crosses onto buns

    13. bake for ~20 mins or until well browned and spring back to the touch
    14. brush tops with golden syrup while still warm

    Best served straight from the oven with the best quality butter you can find!

    * Don’t be fooled by a “fruit medley” which can often have apricots and apple. Use that by all means if you like it, but I usually add a combination of sultanas, currants and raisins.

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