When I was little, perhaps 6 or 7, my sister traveled to Denver for the Suzuki Institute. She was already quite the violin player. My parents brought me along for the ride, though I didn't play anything at that point. So what is a 6 year old to do at a huge music gathering like this while her big sister hones her string playing prowess? Well, pick up the penny whistle of course!
Of all the things that I experienced that week, the little ditty they taught us to play on the penny whistle stuck with me (well, that and memories of hiding in the basement of a strange building as a huge tornado descended into downtown Denver...that was quite a year).
Hot cross buns,
hot cross buns.
One a penny,
two a penny,
hot cross buns
I remember that song so well, but I cannot recall ever actually eating a hot cross bun. This Easter season I wanted to give these spicy rolls a shot...and further improve my rapport with yeast. This recipe is loaded with diced dried fruit well beyond the scope of traditional raisins. Brushed with honey straight out of the oven they have the most heavenly glow! Perfect for that Easter Brunch! Even if it is celebrated a few days late...
adapted from Hester's recipe at Alchemy in the Kitchen
yields 12 buns
3 1/2 cups bread flour
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1 tsp grated orange zest
7 g dry active yeast (1/4 oz package)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup mixed dried fruit (apricots, apples, prunes, figs, etc) finely diced
1/3 cup raisins, currants or dried cranberries
1/4 cup honey
1 1/4 cup milk
1 large egg
for the cross:
3 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp water
for the glaze:
1 Tbsp honey
Into a large bowl combine the flour, salt, cinnamon, allspice, yeast, olive oil, and dried fruit. Mix well.
Pour the milk into a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the honey and stir until dissolved. Warm the milk to between 80 to 95.
Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and add the beaten egg, and about half the milk. Slowly add the remaining milk, stirring and folding to completely moisten the flour. The dough should start to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, adding more flour as necessary. Knead for 8 to 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and no longer tacky. Form into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover and allow to rise until double in size, about 90 minutes
After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly oiled work surface. Divide the dough in half, and half again to form four equal portions. Gently pull each portion into a log, about 2 inches in diameter and 6 inches long. Using a sharp knife or kitchen shears, cut each portion into 3 equally pieces. Roll each portion into a ball, trying to pull the dough taunt on one side.
Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking parchment. Place the buns on the sheet, spacing about 1 1/2-inch apart. Gently push down to flatten, ever so slightly. Cover the buns with cling wrap and allow to rise undisturbed until doubled, about one hour.
To make the paste for the cross, in a small ziploc bag combine the flour and water. Massage the bag until a uniform paste is formed.
Preheat the oven to 375.
Place the buns in the oven and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer the buns to a cooling rack and immediately brush them with warmed honey.
Warm, welcoming and just kissed with sweetness! Just the look of these is a far cry from the royal icing laden varieties sold at the supermarkets during the spring. It is almost a pity they are only sold around the Easter season. They make the perfect breakfast roll..spicy, studded with fruit and not terribly sweet. The yeasty smell tempted us the entire drive to our friends as we took a batch along for Easter dinner. Paired with ham? Heavenly. But these buns are certainly sinful in their own rite.