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Anything but Average Hot Cross Buns

April 22, 2011

It’s Good Friday and I’m eagerly anticipating the next three days of reflection and celebration.  In my mind hot cross buns has nothing to do with either of those but according to old English tradition, the buns with their cross shaped pattern were served on Good Friday with the cross standing as a symbol of the crucifixion.  I’ve never actually had a hot cross bun, although I do remember chanting that song in music class in elementary school and wondering what on earth we were talking about.  I figured now would be a good time to try them so I did a little research on what a hot cross bun is supposed to be.  Basically they are nothing more than a sweet yeast roll with dried fruit, spices and a cross pattern made of dough or icing that is served warm or toasted.  I like warm breads for breakfast so I made a few additions to make my rolls a tasty breakfast treat.

These tasty little rolls can be enjoyed year round.  For the dough I used a variation from my sticky buns. I soaked the dried fruit in some bourbon (you can use water if you’re abstaining from alcohol), added some fresh squeezed orange juice and zest to the icing to brighten up the flavors and then squeezed some blackberry jam in the middle because I like jam with my bread.  And there you have it, my anything but average hot cross bun.  I hope you all have a very Happy Easter Weekend!

Soak raisins (or craisins)

Simmer milk and stir in sugar, salt and butter

Dissolve yeast in warm water

Stir together milk mixture, yeast and egg

Stir in flour

and a little more flour

knead the dough by hand or with a standing mixer

add the raisins towards the end of the kneading process

place the dough in an oiled bowl to rise

once the dough has risen, punch it down and divide it into four equal sections

and then divide each section into four equal balls

place dough on a baking sheet and brush with egg wash

let the dough rise again and then bake until golden brown

mix up the icing

stripe a cross pattern on them

and fill them with blackberry jam (in hind sight, you should probably fill them and then ice them but thats completely up to you)

eat them when they are still warm

Hot Cross Buns with Orange Icing and Blackberry Jam filling
Yields 16 rolls

Ingredients:

1/2 cup dried raisins, currants or cranberries
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons bourbon, rum or water
1 package of active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons warm water (105-115 degrees F)
1 cup milk
1/4 cup sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
3 1/2-4 cups bread flour, divided
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger

egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of milk)

1 cup confectioners sugar
1 tablespoon fresh squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon orange zest (optional)

1/2 cup blackberry jam

Directions:

1. Place the dried fruit of your choice in a small saucepan and cover them with just enough water to cover by about 1/2 inch, you may not need all 1 1/2 cups.  Bring the water to a boil, then drain well.  Transfer the fruit to a small bowl and sprinkle with the bourbon, rum or water.  Cover and set aside.

2.  In another small bowl, place 2 cups of the bread flour and stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.  Set aside.  Warm the milk in a medium saucepan just until it begins to bubble, then remove from heat.  Whisk in sugar and salt until dissolved.  Add in butter and stir until completely melted.  Set aside.  In the bowl of a standing mixer (or large mixing bowl if doing by hand) place the 3 tablespoons of warm water.  Sprinkle the sugar and the yeast over the water and let stand until the yeast is dissolved and creamy-about 5 minutes.

3. When the yeast is fully dissolved add the milk mixture and egg.  Mix by hand or with the paddle attachment of your standing mixer on low speed.  Gradually stir in the 2 cups of spiced bread flour.  Gradually add the rest of the bread flour, a 1/2 cup at a time just until the dough is moist but not sticky-you may not need all the flour, I typically add about another 1 1/2 cups.  Let the dough rest for 10 minutes.

4. Knead the dough for about 8 minutes by hand or with the dough hook on low to medium speed.  Add in the soaked fruit and continue to knead another 2 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic (if the fruit seems very wet, pat it dry with a paper towel before adding to the dough).  Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl and turn it over once to coat with oil.  Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

5. Punch the dough down, and let it rest for a minute.  Lightly grease a baking sheet.  Divide the dough into four equal sections and then divide each section into four equal parts, rolling them into balls.  Place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheet.  Brush the dough with the egg wash and cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.

6. While the dough is rising, preheat oven to 425 degrees (F).  Once the dough has risen, brush it again with the egg wash and bake them in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes.  The crust should be golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when tapped.  Remove the rolls to a wire rack.

7. Place blackberry jam in a pastry bag fitted with a long plain tip (see doughnut post for further instructions), poke the tip into the center of each roll (entering from the side) and squeeze in some of the jam. In a small bowl, mix the confectioners sugar, orange juice and zest.  Place the icing in a pastry bag with the tip snipped off and stripe the icing onto the rolls in a cross shape.  Serve warm.

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