run out of womb

... learning how to be a mum from scratch

Friday 13 June 2014

Hot, cross (and easy) buns

The (shortened) story of the reason behind most Jewish festivals goes something like: "they tried to kill us, we won, let's eat." But coming up is Passover, where Jewish people eat - a lot, with big family meals - but nothing involving bread, or anything baked with flour. And that's awkward this year, since Passover coincides with Easter, and its amazing chocolate eggs, spicy hot crossed buns and simnel cakes. The solution? I baked Easter goodies early, then moved onto Passover goodies. 
These were my first attempt at hot cross buns - they take time, since the dough needs to hang around, getting bigger, on two separate occasions, but if you prep the dough one evening, leave it overnight, and bake the buns in the morning, the actual kitchen time is under half an hour. 
Add whatever dried fruit you like best to this mix, and don't scrimp on the spice. Then just make sure you've got some delicious butter and jam on hand for a warm, filling treat.

Ingredients (recipe adapted from the River Cottage Bread Handbook)
2 cups strong white bread flour
2 cups plain white flour
1/2 cup warm milk
one packet instant yeast (7g)
1/2 cup warm water
one cup raisins and/or mixed dried fruit (I used raisins and dried cranberries)
zest of one orange
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon all spice
1 teaspoon mixed spice
Generous pinch of salt
4 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
50g butter
For the crosses
8 tablespoons plain flour
7 tablespoons water
For the glaze 2 tablespoon sugar + 1 tablespoon boiling water


I used my Kenwood mixer, but you can make it by hand (you better like kneading though). In a mixer, add the flours, salt, water, milk, yeast, sugar, egg and butter and mix with the dough hook for about 3 minutes.
Add the dried fruit, orange zest, and spices, then continue kneading in the machine (or by hand) until a smooth ball. 
Cover the bowl of the dough with clingfilm, and let rise in a warm place - for at least two hours, I left it overnight - until doubled in size.
Then, deflate the risen dough and divide into 16-20 equal balls. Place on a floured board, cover with clingfilm or a clean tea towel, and leave for another half hour, they should rise further.

Whilst they're proving, make the crosses by mixing the flour and water until a smooth paste. Pour the mixture into a piping bag, or plastic bag with the corner snipped off, and pipe a cross on top of each one once risen. 

Bake for around 20 minutes, but keep an eye on them - take the tray out of the oven when they're a golden brown colour.

Melt the sugar in the boiling water, and brush over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven to give them their shine.


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