Sunday 12 April 2009

Hot Cross Buns

We are at home this weekend. For once we've got a long weekend and no fixed plans. And it is wonderful! So I am taking full advantage.

I've taken an extra day off work and got my teeth into a few projects. And - because we're always away for Christmas so I never get a Christmas tree - I have decorated an Easter tree. That's my Lindt bunny at the bottom of the tree. I can happily avoid most Easter eggs (I really don't like cheap chocolate) but I do get very sad and sulky if I don't get my Lindt bunny.

And I have had the time to do a bit of traditional baking. Whether you are celebrating the resurrection of Christ, or honouring Eostre with the four quarters of the moon, the hot cross bun is a beautiful thing when done well. Sadly, I have never been able to do them well.

Last weekend I tried a friend's tried-and-true recipe, which didn't work for me at all. So I went back to the drawing board. Natashya's lemon & currant hot cross buns looked so utterly perfect that I knew that was the way forward. Of course, I couldn't resist tinkering with the recipe a bit, and it worked out really well, so I am proud to present:

Cherry and Saffron Hot Cross Buns

1 cup lukewarm water
1 tbs honey
1 1/2 tbs dry yeast
1 cup semi-skimmed milk, at room temperature
1/2 cup caster sugar
A big pinch of saffron stamens
Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups strong white flour
1 cup ground almonds
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup dried sour cherries
1/4 cup chopped mixed peel
extra flour for dusting

Hot Lemon Glaze:

1/2 cup caster sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice

Icing for crosses:

3/4 cup icing sugar, sifted (I used golden organic icing sugar, so my crosses were a delicate caramel colour. Normal icing sugar will give you white crosses. A drop of red food colouring will give you pink crosses which would be nice if you have 4 year old girls in the house)
1 Tbsp. lemon juice

1. For the dough, add the yeast to the warm water and honey and let sit for about 10 minutes, until there is a good thick froth on the surface. Add the saffron and vanilla to the milk and also leave about 5 minutes, until the saffron colour has leached through the milk.

2. Mix the sugar, lemon zest, flour, ground almonds, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and dried fruit in a large bowl. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the yeast mixture and the milk mixture. Using your hands, knead until sticky but elastic. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place for 1 1/2 hours, or until the dough has doubled in size.

3. Turn dough onto a well-floured surface, knead lightly to knock back and cut into 12 roughly equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and place in a greased 9x13-inch cake pan (I used a pyrex lasagne dish). Cover pan loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for another 45 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 180C.

5. Bake buns for 40 - 45 minutes, until a rich golden colour. While buns are baking, prepare the hot glaze.

6. For hot glaze, stir sugar and lemon juice in a small pan over medium heat until sugar has dissolved and the glaze just comes to the boil. When buns come out of the oven, poke holes with a bamboo skewer and cut down between them (they will have risen together). Brush buns with glaze repeatedly until it has all been used up, allowing glaze to soak in to buns. Return the glazed buns to the (turned off) oven for 10 minutes, then remove and let buns cool in pan.

7. For icing, beat icing sugar and a teaspoonful of lemon juice, adding a little more lemon juice as needed until it is thick and smooth. Pipe a cross of icing onto each cooled bun. If the buns aren't completely cool - for example, because you want to eat one immediately with a cup of tea - the cross will spread out a bit, but be none the worse for that. Store buns in pan until ready to serve. The buns are best served on the day they are baked but the following day, split and thickly buttered they will still be acceptable!The ground almonds give them a bit more moisture than your traditional HCB.


Sam said...

I hope you have a good Easter, those hot cross buns look seriously fantastic!

I'd love your jerk burger recipe, I'm planning on having a barbecue soon and that would be perfect.

mscrankypants said...

Best. Post. Ever.

I'm calling Fat Couriers to organise a delivery as soon as I wipe the drool off my keyboard.

Alicia Foodycat said...

Thanks Sam - enjoy the rest of yours, too!

Cranky - move fast, I've only got 3 left.

Joie de vivre said...

These look so beautiful. Happy Easter!

As for your question about the bread on my site, it was a messy hand dish, but finger lickin' good!

Bettina Douglas said...

these are the best looking HCB ever.

HH said...

They are awesome and fancy! Wow! My second batch looked better than my first, but nothing on yours!

hungryandfrozen said...

I love lindt chocolate - I am seriously crazy about their white chocolate balls. Your hot cross buns sound utterly beautiful - especially with the addition of saffron and ground almonds. Happy Easter :)

Alicia Foodycat said...

Amanda - I definitely have to make that artichoke bread! It looks so good.

Mother - thank you! I definitely plan to make these a tradition.

HH - I think the key is letting them rise together a bit, so you have the pull-apart looking edges.

Laura - oh yes, the Lindor balls! yum!

grace said...

an easter tree, eh? i like it.
i also completely appreciate your buns. they've never been a tradition for my family, and clearly we've been missing out. :)

Alicia Foodycat said...

Grace - there is a lot of cinnamon in them, so I knew you would like them!

Deb in Hawaii said...

yum! I love the combination of cherry and saffron. your Easter tree is great too!


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