Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Hot Cross Buns, Hot Cross Buns, One a Penny...

Hot Cross Buns!  Mmmm.  Now usually these are made for Good Friday, but I made them for Easter instead.  I thought they would be a great addition to the spread I and a friend are responsible for creating this month at church for the between service/hang out time.  The first resource I turned to for a recipe for Hot Cross Buns was the Pioneer Woman.  Know of her?  If not, well, you should!  I just knew she would have what I was looking for and I was right!

First you scald your milk, oil, and sugar in a saucepan.  Stir it all together and heat it up until it is really warm and just about to boil but not boiling yet.  Then take it off the heat and let it cool down for a while, so that it is still warm but not hot to the touch.  

Pour the yeast over the warm mixture and then stir in the flour.  Normally I use SAF Instant Yeast but Ree says to use Active Dry so I used that instead.  Is there a difference?  I don't think so, though I do prefer the Instant Yeast because you can keep it air-tight in the freezer for a long time, plus the yeast itself is longer lasting, so it keeps working after "active" yeast stops, and is easier to use.  Look into it some time!

Anyway, once the flour and yeast is stirred into the milk mixture, you get a sticky ball.  No problem. 
Time for a rest.  For everyone!  Cover your sticky ball with a clean towel and now both of you can take a nap for an hour!  That didn't actually occur in my house (the me napping part) but what a blessing it would be if it did!!  I hope it works for you! 

After your nice rest, uncover your bowl and smile at your happily raised dough.
Add 1/2 cup more flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, and stir until combined.

Now comes the super yummy part!

Mix together 1/2 cup sugar, cinnamon, and whatever other spices you want.  I added a heaping 1/8 tsp of cardamom, as I thought that would be good with the raisins.  It was a very heaping measure, so I have no idea what it truly was but it was good.  I could have probably used more but I tend to go cautiously with a recipe I haven't tried before.

Lightly flour whatever surface you like to use for dough.  For this, I used a Tupperware rolling mat that I have had forever.  I don't think they actually make them anymore which is not necessarily a bad thing.  This one is plastic, so it stays in an annoying curled shape and I have to weigh the corners down.  Also it scoots all over the place if you actually use a rolling pin.  I think the newer Tupperware mats are made of silicone, which is a big improvement.  I have a pretty big silicone mat for rolling fondant that I also use for doughs, but for whatever reason the Tupperware one is what I grabbed.  And it worked fine for this purpose!

Plop the dough onto the floured surface and kind of press it into a flatter rectangular shape.  Then sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of the spice mixture over the dough, followed by 1/3 of the raisins.  Press the raisins into the dough a little bit so when you fold the dough they don't go flying away!

Fold the dough in half, press it out into a flatter shape again, and repeat the spice/raisin routine.  And then do it again!  By now, the raisins should be gone and there may or may not be any of the spice mixture left depending on how generous you were with each layer.  The picture above is after my last fold, so you can see I had a little of the mixture left.  

 With floured hands, pinch off ping pong or golf ball sized piece of dough and quickly roll it into a ball, folding the ends under the bottom so it is somewhat smooth on top.  Place the balls on a lightly greased cookie sheet.   My dough balls were more ping pong sized, so I actually ended up with more than the recipe claims.  That is a good thing since I was feeding hungry church attendees!

Time for another little rest.  This one could be only for 30 minutes, but why take a short nap when you could take a longer one?  Night, night little buns.  See you in an hour!

After the hour, they were nice and plump, so I lightly scored them with a sharp knife (which is totally unnecessary but I like it).  Mix 1 egg white with a splash of milk, and brush on each bun. 

Bake the buns in a 400F oven for 20 minutes or until the tops are nicely golden brown.  I think I baked mine a little longer than I should have, so keep an eye on them!  Remove them from the pan and let them cool completely on a wire rack.

In the meantime, make the icing for the buns.  Mix an egg white with enough powdered sugar for it to be nice and thick, adding a splash of milk for consistency as necessary.  Put this into a small ziplock bag, cut a small triangle off of one corner of the bag, and pipe the crosses onto your buns!  Do not do this until the buns are completely cooled!  You may also want to lay a sheet of waxed paper or foil or something underneath your cooling rack so the mess is a bit easier to clean up.  This icing is perfect and glossy but kind of like glue when it dries on your countertop!

Ta-da!  They were a hit at church!  The first plate was gobbled up so fast that I cut the buns on the second plate in half before putting them out!  And that is not actually a bad thing, because according to Hot Cross Bun lore, if you share a bun with a friend, "half for you and half for me, between us two good luck shall be."


Due to some bizarre spam comments I have recently received, I am moderating the comments for a while. I hope this spam craziness stops so this becomes unnecessary!