There's something so satisfying about baking with yeast. The transformation of yeast and flour into something alive and growing is magical indeed, and there's a certain empowering pleasure in transforming a warm and fermenting blob of grey into great big pillows of fluffy bread that looks and smells fantastic.
Hot cross buns are always a crowd favourite and homemade versions taste like no other. Fresh from the oven, these fragrant golden-crusted beauties have a fluffy softness that is both strong and yielding. Unlike many of the commercial varieties, there is no sticky doughiness to these buns, and because the yeast has had plenty of time to prove, I find there's no swollen heaviness in the stomach either.
Best of all, there's the satisfaction of presenting something truly handmade to the ones you love. That is, if you don't scoff the entire lot yourself!
In the interim I'm off on a week's break with little or no internet access (hello internet withdrawal tetchiness! how will I survive?!?).
Hope you have a lovely Easter and see you all back here soon :)
Hot Cross Buns
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
1/2 cup caster sugar
4 1/2 cups plain flour, sifted
3 teaspoons mixed spice
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
60g butter, melted
1 cup sultanas
1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup candied mixed peel (optional)
Combined the yeast, milk and 2 teaspoons of the sugar in a large bowl and set aside for five minutes. Small bubbles in the mixture will indicate that the yeast is now active.
Add the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon, butter, egg, sultanas, raisins, mixed peel and remaining sugar to the yeast mixture. Use a butter knife or metal spoon to bring the ingredients together, then knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 8-10 minutes until the dough feels smooth and elastic (alternatively use dough hooks in an electric mixer).
Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl (I use cooking spray), cover with plastic film or a tea towel, and place in a warm draught-free area to prove for 1-2 hours or until dough doubles in size.
When the dough has doubled, make a rough sausage shape and divide into 12 pieces.
Grease and line a 23cm square cake tin and line with baking paper. Gently shape your dough pieces into squarish buns and place in the tin. Cover with plastic film or a tea towel and allow to prove again in a warm spot for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 190C.
To make the crosses
1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 cup cold water
Slowly add the water to the flour, stopping when you have reached a thick paste. Use a piping bag (or a ziplock/strong plastic bag with a corner snipped off) to pipe crosses onto the buns.
Bake at 190C for 25-35 minutes or until they golden brown and cooked through. When they're ready, the buns will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
To make the glaze
1/4 cup sugar
2 Tablespoons water
1 teaspoon powdered gelatine
Combine the sugar and water into a small saucepan and stir over low heat until the sugar dissolves. In a small bowl, pour in 1 tablespoon cold water and then sprinkle over the gelatine to let it soften. Add the gelatine mixture to the sugar water and cook for a minute or two until thickened. Allow to cool slightly.
Brush the warm glaze over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven. The glaze will take a few minutes to set.
Serve warm with butter.
Because there are no preservatives, the buns tend to dry out after a day or two. To refresh and soften them, simply flick them sparsely with a little water before microwaving for 20-40 seconds.
Related Grab Your Fork posts:
Hot cross buns (2006)
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4/09/2009 12:29:00 a.m.