Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Baking Lessons: Traditional Hot Cross Buns

Back in January, two friends and I gathered to make candied peel in anticipation of Lent.  Our pastry chef friend, Terry, taught us how to make and freeze the peel so that we could later gather before Easter and use it to make traditional hot cross buns.  We met in the morning to prepare the dough and, while it rose on Terry's hearth, we enjoyed a lunch of homemade tortellini soup.  We then formed the risen dough into buns and baked them in time to sit down for daily tea at 2 with fresh hot cross buns and a cup (or two) of tea. 

The buns can be made, baked, glazed and frozen between sheets of waxed paper.  Pull one from the freezer, slice in half, toast and slather with butter to eat with your morning tea all through Lent.  Perfect.

Hot Cross Buns

Slightly warm 5 oz. milk and 2 oz. warm water in a pan; set aside.  In a large bowl, combine 4 oz. of all-purpose flour with 1 tsp. sugar.  Stir in warmed milk and water mixture.  Sprinkle mixture with 1 tabl. of yeast and stir just a bit.  Leave mixture in a warm place for 20-30 minutes or until frothy.

Mix 12 oz. of flour with 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. of mixed spice.  (Mixed spice is NOT all-spice.  It is an English spice which can be created by combining 2 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and 1/4 tsp. cloves.)  Add 2 oz. of sugar.  Set aside.

Once yeast mixture is frothy, gently stir in 2 oz. of cooled melted butter and 1 beaten egg.  Gradually fold in flour mixture, 1 oz. currants and 1-2 oz. of candied peel.  Knead the dough until perfectly smooth (approx. 10 minutes).  Divide the dough into 12 pieces and shape into buns.  Place buns on greased AND floured baking trays and leave them in a warm place to double in size, covering them loosely with greased plastic wrap. 

Once doubled in size, use a razor blade or SUPER SHARP knife to gently make a cross on top of each bun, taking care not to knock the air out of them!

Bake in a preheated 375 oven (just above center) for approx. 15 minutes.  While warm, brush with glaze made from 1 1/2 oz. sugar dissolved in 2 tabl. water over low heat. 

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