It’s always with a little trepidation when I embark on a bread recipe. Practice makes perfect, they say. Breads are something I’ve not taken to practicing often but I do try to once in a while; they tend to turn out just on the side of weird, like these fatguettes.
With the end of Lent and with Good Friday coming up next weekend, I thought it would be nice to try out some hot cross buns. I’m happy they turned out quite beautifully, even with a few little mistakes the first time I tested the recipe. Note to self: when halving a recipe, write out the ingredients and exact amounts instead of trying to do mental calculations on the fly.
Thankfully, the wrong measures (of halving the sugar and doubling the butter) didn’t quite affect the end product, and the buns still turned out great!
Or maybe it’s hot cross buns, and there’s really something magical in them.
On Wikipedia, it’s said that hot cross buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil and mould during the year. It’s also said to have medical purposes, and how having a piece when ill will help recovery. I quite like the one that states hanging a hot cross bun in the kitchen will protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly.
Hmm. I guess I could hang this batch in my kitchen so that my subsequent batches would turn out perfect. Hah.
The second time I tried the recipe, I incorporated the Tangzhong or Water Roux bread method, which helps the buns stay soft for a longer period. You can read more about it in this post over at the Fresh Loaf, and this wonderfully detailed post over at Dessert First. I love softer breads in general, so using this method was really helpful. See the notes after the recipe, if you wish to try it out too!
Adapted from Donna Hay's Modern Classics 2
- 1 tsp gelatine + 2 tbsp water
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 2 tbsp water
- 1 1/2 tsp active dry or instant yeast
- 1/4 cup (50g) castor sugar
- 3/4 cup (150g) milk, lukewarm
- 2 cups + 2tbsp (270g) flour
- 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp mixed spice
- 1/3 cup (50g) butter, melted
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/2 egg, beaten
- 3/4 cup (120g) raisins
- 2 tbsp mixed candied mixed peel (optional)
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 - 2 tbsp water
1. In a small bowl, hydrate the gelatine by sprinkling it over 1 tbsp water. Set aside.
2. Heat together the sugar and water, stirring until all the sugar is dissolved. Add in the gelatine and continue stirring for about 1 minute longer. Set aside to cool.
1. (If using instant yeast, you can skip this step and add the yeast directly into step 2) Put the yeast, 2 tsp sugar, and milk together in your mixing bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes, and the mixture should start to foam.
2. In the same bowl, add the remaining ingredients - flour, cinnamon, mixed spice, butter, egg, raisins, candied mixed peel (if using), and the remaining sugar. Mix until a sticky dough forms. Continue to knead by hand, or in a stand mixer using a dough hook, until the dough feels elastic and doesn't break easily when lightly stretched. This should take about 8 - 10 minutes.
3. Place the kneaded dough in an oiled bowl. Cover with a tea towel or plastic wrap, and leave to rest for about 1 hour or until double in size.
4. Once doubled in size, lightly punch down the dough. Divide them into 9 pieces, rolled into balls.
5. Grease and line a 8 inch square pan with baking paper, before placing the 9 dough pieces inside. Cover once again with a tea towel or plastic wrap, and set aside to rise for another 30 minutes.
6. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C / 400°F. Make the paste for the crosses by mixing together the flour and water. Place into a piping bag and pipe crosses on the buns.
7. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until browned and springy to touch.
8. After removing the buns from the oven, and brush them with the glaze while still hot. Then slice and serve with butter!
Notes: For the Tangzhong or Water roux method, take 13.5g flour and 67.5g milk directly from the recipe, mix them together and cook in a small saucepan until you get a slightly translucent white pudding. You can also make it in the microwave by microwaving the mixture for 20 seconds, removing it to stir, and then by intervals of 5 (and stirring!) until you achieve the pudding stage. Set this aside to cool, and add it in directly at step 2.