Monday, April 02, 2007

Kevin: Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns
This article was originally posted on Seriously Good in April of 2006.

"Results 1 - 10 of about 14,000,000." Google is nothing if not prolific -- one might even say prolix.

It was the week before Easter and I'd entered "easter bread" as the search term. I'd planned on baking some sort of Easter bread last year but something had prevented it, so this year I was determined. Chocolates and rabbits and chocolate rabbits are a recent addition to the feasts of spring -- although some tend to get a bit literal (and even perverse) in their interpretations of such recent addendums. But eggs are a nearly universal symbol of spring and bread is almost as ubiquitous in areas where suitable grains are grown.

I already knew of the Italian Pane di Pasqua, Greek Tsoureki, and Russian Koulich breads. The Polish Babka, Ukrainian Paska, and Dutch Paasbrood weren't much of a surprise. I was surprised though that there were so many Italian Easter breads -- Crescia, Pan di Ramerino, Torta di Pasqua al Formaggio -- and that so many were savory and not sweet. I also turned up a coconut bread with pineapple butter (but no indication of its origins) and the Armenian Choereg.

Then there's matzo, the

Hot cross buns!
Hot cross buns!
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns!
If ye have no daughters,
Give them to your sons.
One a penny, two a penny,
Hot cross buns

traditional Passover bread (same celebration, different religion) and modern pagans celebrate Beltane with oat or barley scones which are reputedly traditional. Many (if not all) of the Easter breads really had nothing to with Easter originally. Instead they, like the scones of Beltane, were made for feasts having nothing to do with Christ but instead, like the eggs, were fertility symbols.

Given so many options to choose from, I fell back on my first impulse, Hot Cross Buns. I've not made them before and I thought they be good with a bit of homemade sausage on Easter morning -- something a bit more substantial than my usual breakfast banana to tide me through to dinner. I eventually pulled several recipes together and came up with the following recipe. The buns are pleasantly sweet but not cloying. The glaze would be cloying, but there's not much of it and it only appears in every two or three bites, which I think is about perfect. The spices offer a nice lilt and the texture is tender and chewey. I think next time I might use a bit of whole wheat flour just to provide a tad more depth to the flavor.

Hot Cross Buns

Hot Cross Buns

1/2 c milk
1 tbsp yeast
1/4 c sugar
1 tsp salt
5 tbsp butter -- melted and cooled
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
2 ea eggs
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour (King Arthur recommended)
3/4 c currants or raisins
1 ea egg
1/2 c confectioners' sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 - 2 tbsp milk

Warm milk to room temperature. Fill a mixing bowl with hot water.

Empty mixing bowl and add milk, yeast, 1 tablespoon sugar, and 3 tablespoons of flour. Mix together, cover, and allow to rest 30 - 40 minutes or until sponge doubles in volume.

Mix in remaining sugar, butter spices, and 2 eggs. Gradually add remaining flour and salt, and knead for about 3 minutes. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes. Add currants and continue kneading for another 5 minutes until currants are thoroughly mixed in and dough is smooth and elastic. The dough should be moist but not sticky. Shape dough into a ball and place smooth side down in a buttered bowl, turn smooth side up and cover with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled in size.

Line a 9" x 13" baking dish with parchment paper. Scoop the dough from the bowl and fold it several times to work out the large bubbles, then divide it into 12 equal portions. roll each portion into a ball and arrange balls in baking dish about 1/2" apart. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, remove from refrigerator and allow the buns to warm up and rise for a couple of hours until doubled in size.

Heat oven to 375F.

Using a razor blade, cut a cross in the top of each bun. Whisk together the remaining egg and a tablespoon of water and brush on the buns. Place buns on the center rack in the oven and bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Once done, cool in the pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes then whisk together the glaze ingredients and drizzle over crosses cut into buns. Serve warm. Makes 12 buns.

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Blogger kitchenmage said...

I read "chocolate rabbi" and thought, well, that might have kept me enthused about going to temple when I as a kid...

4/02/2007 3:02 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I imagine it would.{g}

4/02/2007 4:55 PM  
Blogger oopsydeb said...

Wow---a bonus recipe during pizza month! I haven't had a hot cross bun for years, so I might have to try this. I guess it would also give me scoring practice (my scoring is horrid, horrid, horrid).
How much whole wheat flour would you use? Maybe I'll play with that if I find time for these this weekend.

4/02/2007 8:56 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I wouldn't use more than a cup of whole wheat in to.

4/02/2007 9:10 PM  
Blogger oopsydeb said...

Thanks Kevin. So, another novice Q: If I put in 1 c. whole wheat, do I reduce the AP by 1 c., or is the whole wheat to ap not a 1 to 1 ratio?

4/02/2007 9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin,
I noticed there were two recipes on that website for Hot Cross Buns; I printed them both off, and am having trouble deciding which one would be best to try. I am thinking I might use the basic recipe from the second one but put the spices, currants and candied peel listed in the first one. I don't remember the Hot Cross Buns I ate in the past having spices. Do you think this would work? Any suggestions appreciated. judyinktown

4/02/2007 9:35 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Substitute 1:1, but you may not need quite so much AP flour. As rule, I never add all the flour called for at once and only add the last quarter to a half cup a bit at a time.

4/02/2007 9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry Kevin, Now I see your recipe. I have been interrupted several times while on here looking, and I never clicked to see the "rest of the story". ha It gets harder to do more than one thing at a time as you get older. Please tell me someone out there understands. lol

4/02/2007 9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I even forgot to sign that last one anon= judyinktown

4/02/2007 9:42 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

I thought about it a bit further, and I don't think I'd use more than about 2/3 of a cup of whole wheat flour in these buns.

Believe me, I understand.

4/03/2007 7:59 AM  
Blogger Kitchen Queen Victoria said...

Judi, I understand too. More than you'll ever know...

Kevin, Great Buns! :) I added 1/2 teaspoon each of grated cinnamon and nutmeg and decreased the allspice to 1/4 teaspoon. Because I don't like raising and currants much, I added chopped dried cranberries and sliced almonds as well.

I really liked that I was able to make them on Thursday afternoon and bake them Friday morning for breakfast. Thanks for the recipe!


4/07/2007 6:17 PM  
Blogger Kitchen Queen Victoria said...

For crying out loud...

Raisins,! Not "raising"!

Heck, the "s" and the "g" aren't even adjacent on the keyboard... :(

4/07/2007 6:21 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Kitchen Queen,
> Kevin, Great Buns!

Thanks. I don't even work out.

> I really liked that I was able to make them on Thursday afternoon and bake them Friday morning for breakfast. Thanks for the recipe!

Breakfast bread has to be made the night before to be practical.

You're variations sound great. I can taste them in my mind.

4/07/2007 6:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I started out to make Hot Cross Buns. I didn't use Kevin's recipe because I didn't want to wait to bake them (I probably could have gone on and baked them after they proofed again), soooo, I used the one on the link Kevin had given, the one with 5 cups of flour, because I knew I would have to share them, so I might as well make as many as possible. I got the dough made and let it rise. While it was rising, I got to thinking (big mistake, or not) that I didn't want to try to knead all those currants and candied orange peel into the dough, so I decided to roll out the dough like I make cinnamon rolls. I brushed it with butter, sprinkled some brown sugar on and the candied orange peel and candied pineapple. Rolled it up, sliced it up, let it rise again, and baked. Made a glaze to pour over when it was done. Delicious! Husband liked, neighbor liked, I liked. A little laziness sometimes goes a long way. ha


ps~ I still plan to try Kevin's recipe, and do it right. No, no, I don't have my fingers crossed behind my back. I can't believe you all would even think that. lol

4/09/2007 11:55 AM  
Anonymous yB said...

Hi! I'm a university student doing some baking as excuse to put off studying at the moment.:D I've tried making your Hot Cross Bun- it was good fresh out of oven- but still not as soft and fluffy as I would have liked it to be. Do you have any tips on how to achieve that? I have tried baking several yeast breads before and while they'e generally lighter than chemical-leavened bread, they still are rather dense, and I do think there might be something wrong with my techinique. Also.. how do you store baked yeast bread overnight? even when I double wrap them in cling, they still lose even more of their scant fluffiness and moisture!:( ooh and one last qn please- I do not have a freezer (only a real tiny fridge), and hence had to throw away my leftover pizza dough cos I didn't think they'd keep. Do you think they will?

I'm so sorry bout this questions overload! And one last word, you guys are doing a great job! Can't wait for your next installment:D

4/12/2007 1:34 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

You could use a softer flour (such as White Lily or Martha White), but that particular recipe is a bit coarse.

As for pizza dough, it will keep in the fridge (not freezer) for a couple of days.

4/12/2007 2:18 PM  

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