Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Not Cross Buns

Here is my take on the traditional hot cross bun recipe. I've not bothered with the crosses, not only because I am a man of science but also because it's one less thing to have to think about. These buns are about as far removed as your can get from the flat pale equivalents sold in most supermarkets. Dark golden, syrupy and rich in both flavour and texture they are wonderful spread with something indulgent, or even just eaten alone. I'd say you'll get about 9 buns out of this mixture and I'd resist the urge to make them any bigger, as they colour quite quickly in the oven. I've been pretty traditional with my filling and spicing in this recipe, but there is a lot of room for experimentation. You could have a go with a bit of citrus, chocolate or maybe even marzipan! Finally I've glazed my buns (innuendo alert) with a little warmed golden syrup, but feel free to try other things such as maple syrup or jam.

Prep Time: 30 Mins (Plus time to prove, ferment, etc)
Baking Time: 15 Mins
15g Fresh Yeast
100ml Warm Water
40g Caster Sugar
320g Strong White Bread Flour (Plus a bit more to dust your surface if required)
50ml Milk
40g Unsalted Butter (Melted and cooled)
1 Medium Egg
1tsp Mixed Spice
125g Mixed Dried Fruit
1tsp Salt
3tbsp Golden Syrup (Warmed through for 20seconds in the microwave)
A little oil for greasing

Right, as with most of my bread recipes at the moment, the magic begins the night before. If time is of the essence you can shorten this step but try and leave it for at least an hour. In a large bowl crumble in your fresh yeast, then add in 50g of the flour and 10g of the sugar. Pour in the water and give it mix around until combined (I use a tiny whisk for this!). Cover with a dry tea towel and leave overnight.

The next morning add the rest of the sugar, milk, butter and spice. Crack in the egg, give it a brief mix about with a wooden spoon, then tip in the fruit and do the same. Finally add in the rest of the flour with the salt until a loose dough begins to form. Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and start kneading (stretching the dough away from you, folding it back on itself and repeating). You'll find after about 4 or 5 minutes it'll start to become much less sticky and easier to work with, although you may have to chase the occasional rogue sultana that tries to escape! Continue kneading for another couple of minutes then place in clean, lightly greased bowl (I actually used the residual butter from the pot I melted it in), cover with a damp tea towel and place somewhere warm for 1 hour and 40 minutes.

By this time the dough should have doubled in size, so bring it back into the kitchen. Tip the dough out onto a lightly oiled surface (Use a flavourless oil if you can) and knock the dough back, pressing it with your fingers and the ball of your hand. Divide and shape the dough into 9 equal sized balls and leave for a further 30 minutes on your greased surface, covered again with the damp tea towel.

Carefully transfer the little buns to a floured baking tray and put into the centre of the oven. Turn the oven on to 190C/375F/Gas 5 and let them bake for 15 minutes, by which time they are dark golden. Remove them from the oven and wrap the hot buns in your damp tea towel. You don't have to do this, but I find it helps soften the top of the buns. After five minutes, unwrap the buns and place them on a wire rack or plate. To finish brush over the warm syrup, then see how long you can resist eating them. I bet it won't be long!

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