Sunday, May 22, 2016

Hot cross buns

Hot cross buns are a staple in Australia and New Zealand. Make these soft and fluffy Easter favorites easily at home!

I started playing the flute in 4th grade and chose this instrument because I liked how shiny it looked. One of the first songs that I learned how to play was "Hot Cross Buns." Of course, I never knew what a hot cross bun was but was content knowing that I was pretty good at playing the 3-note song.

Fast forward to 2008 when my husband and I went to Australia and New Zealand on vacation. We visited a local grocery store and saw that hot cross buns were everywhere (in both countries). I remembered the little song that I played on my flute and knew that we had to buy some and try it.

The hot cross buns that we bought were super soft, fluffy and sweet. We ate the entire pack pretty quickly and I vowed to recreate them sometime. An embarrassing 8 years later, here I am. My friend Kylee posted these on her blog recently, and it sparked my memory to finally bake them.

In full disclosure, my hot cross buns didn't bake up with the perfect distinct white cross on them. In fact, my crosses were barely visible. So for hot cross bun purists, stop reading here and ignore what I'm going to say next:  I decided to make a white powdered sugar glaze and piped crosses with it. I know the piped glaze isn't on a traditional hot cross bun, but I couldn't stand the fact that my hot cross buns had no visible crosses on them.

These hot cross buns were super soft, fluffy, sweet and melt-in-your mouth good. You can certainly eat them plain like I did or split them in half and add your favorite fruit spread or a simple pat of butter. After eating these hot cross buns, I now have a strong desire to go back to Australia and New Zealand. Sigh.

Hot cross buns
Dough
  • 1 Tablespoon instant (rapid rise) yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups (15oz) bread flour
  • ½ cup (5oz) whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 1 and ¼ cups warm water
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup raisins
"Cross" paste
  • 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup water
Glaze
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp water
Directions
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment, mix together the yeast, sugar, salt, flours and butter. Add the egg and mix well. Slowly drizzle in the water until a smooth dough forms. Add the cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, brown sugar and raisins and continue to mix until the dough is soft and elastic, but not sticky. If the dough is too sticky, add a little bit of flour at a time. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, cover and allow to double or triple in volume (at least 1 hour).

Punch the dough down and generously grease a 9"x13" baking pan. Divide the dough into 12-16 equal parts and roll each portion of dough into a ball. Place it in your prepared baking pan. It's fine to get the dough touch each other.

Mix up the paste by combining the flour and water together. Stir until smooth. I put my paste in a measuring cup and poured it onto the dough balls, but you can transfer it to a zip-top bag and snip off the corner and pipe on the crosses.

Allow the dough to rest and rise for at least another 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F. Bake the buns in your preheated oven for 20-25 minutes or until the tops turn golden brown.

Once you take the buns out of the oven, make the glaze. Combine the sugar and water and lightly brush the tops of each bun with the glaze. Allow to cool slightly before serving. If the crosses aren't prominent enough for you (mine were barely visible), simply mix up a simple glaze of powdered sugar, vanilla and milk and pipe on crosses on the cooled buns. I know hot cross bun purists won't like me for giving you this option, but it definitely makes a better presentation.

Leftover buns should be stored in an airtight container at room temperature. They can also be frozen and thawed.

Yield: About 12-16 rolls

Source: Barely adapted from Kylee Cooks

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