May 6, 2011

The Lazy Baker's Hot Cross Buns


 The Lazy Baker's Hot Cross Buns

Make the dough the night before and be sure it's in a nice big bowl (so it doesn't overflow!) and well covered (no one likes bug-buns!)

Yeast Mixture:
2 7g sachets of dried yeast
1 tsp white sugar
1 3/4 cups of warm milk (not hot!)

Mix above ingredients together and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes to get the yeast going and the milk frothy.

Dough Ingredients:
1/2 cup sugar (yes, more sugar!)
a pinch of salt
50g butter - softened (not melted though!)
4 cups good quality plain flour
1/2 cup sultanas (or you could add some currants as well!)
1 tbsp chopped mixed peel
1 egg
ground cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice - a good shake of each or about 1/4 tsp if you are shy

Make the dough:
Sift the salt and flour together. Sprinkle in the 1/2 cup of sugar. Now add the cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice. Rub in the butter next until well mixed. Plonk the egg in with the milky/yeasty mixture - and whisk with a fork to combine. Now pour the eggy/milky/yeasty mixture into the floury/buttery mix. Add the sultanas and peel. It might be quite sticky. Flour your hands and push on. Sticky is good. Sticky means they will end up moist and bubbly. Knead together with springy, spirit fingers until it's all nicely combined and looks like a nice big lump of speckled dough.

First Rise (the night before!) :
Place into a greased bowl and sprinkle with some cinnamon and nutmeg. I brushed mine gently with some melted butter to keep it moist. You might like to do that if you can be bothered. Allow to rise covered with a clean cloth (until doubled in size). It will rise more quickly in a warm, draught free area.

Here is where you cover them and let it sit overnight. If you want the 'do it in one day' recipe look here!

Get up and shape your buns: 
Good morning! I like your hair! Okay. Make a cup of coffee. Preheat your oven to 200C. Next, turn the dough out gently onto a floured surface. Don't knead it! Just carefully cut it into rough square-ish pieces around 4cm square (or bigger if you like big buns!) Gently push them into a nice bun shape with your finger tips, as though you are a very gentle dough sculptor. You should get about 16 or so buns from this - enough for 2 trays - don't worry if you get less (but don't try for 20 or they'll be TINY!) Grease your trays and pop the buns on - a little way apart - they will join together as they rise and bake.

Recovery Rise:
Now cover these nearly oven-ready buns with a couple of tea towels and let them rise again for half an hour or so in a warm spot. They may not double in size, but they will have time to recover and get ready to rise more in the oven. 

While you are waiting you could pop over here and have a bit of a read?

Make the flour paste and get piping if you want traditional crosses:
Mix half a cup of plain flour with four or five tablespoons of water and pipe onto the uncooked buns in crosses (use a piping bag or a plastic bag with the corner snipped off a teensy bit)

Uncover the buns and brush them with egg wash:
Mix 1 Egg Yolk with 1 Tbsp Milk to make 'egg wash'. Now brush your buns all over with this mixture using a pastry brush. Be sure to avoid your crosses if you added them! This egg wash will help make your buns a nice burnished golden colour!

Buns in the Oven:
Put your buns in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Put them as high up as you can in your oven, allowing room for the buns to rise upwards too. Keep an eye on them while the cook, they are a bit prone to burn on the bottoms. If they do, they'll still be yummy, but obviously we want crisp bottoms, not burnt bottoms!

Make a pot of tea
While they are cooking make the sugary glaze to make your buns sticky! 
Mix 100g sugar with 50ml water in a pot on the stove. When your buns are ready, boil the sugar and water mix up and pour or brush it onto the just baked buns! Not too much, though, just enough to make them shiny and delicious! Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar if you would like! Maybe some nutmeg too?!

Icing Crosses for Hot Cross Buns : instead of the traditional floury crosses :
Mix 1 cup of sifted icing sugar with 1 dessert spoon full of warm milk (or enough to make a piping consistency) - pipe onto your warm (not hot!) buns!

Variation for Fussy Kids:
Omit the sultanas and peel and add 150g of choc chips!

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