It's that time of year - just enjoy it!
Looking for an extra special hand-crafted treat to nibble on this Easter? Look no further as I have two yummy ones to share with you.
But first, Howdy! We've been so busy this year this is only my second blog since sharing all my best New Years Eve wishes with you. I know we all say it around now, but wow how time flies! If you haven't heard by now, we have just started our extended break after our last class went out with a bang on the 31st of March. We are now taking some time to relax, Mum with Dad in tow, are Grey Nomading themselves around Australia (again!) and myself, I'm taking some time to reconfigure a few things here at Relish. Let's see what the break brings.
This year I decided to hop in early and test a few Hot Cross Bun recipes for you well before the eleventh hour. A special mention must go to all the recipients of my possibly not so great practice runs or let's just call them in this Easter instance, the many 'not-so-hot hot cross bun's'. Thanks my poor fellow drumming class participants, my lovely neighbours and of course quite possibly the poorest soul of them all, my husband Paul, gee doesn't he need a medal sometimes. Love him and his enthusiasm!
Fortunately I have a great bun recipe to share and trying as always to keep it as simple as possible for you all and with lots of tips to get you to the finish line. Like any great yeasted recipe, they do take a little bit of time, but it's just the resting (proving) of the dough where the time is spent. Doesn't everyone need a little nana nap here and there anyway?
These buns are best eaten in the hours after they come out of the oven, but in a pinch, once cooled they could be placed in an airtight container and they kinda last ok to the next day. If not, do as everyone else does and just toast them, give them a quick zip in the microwave, or better still make a bread a butter pudding with them - yumbo indeed! In saying this I know you are thinking the large supermarket ones last FOREVER so why would I bother to knead dough and take my allocated nana nap, but let's just take a minute here to ask ourselves
"how come the supermarket ones actually last that long?"
Um, I'll leave you with that thought while we head straight on into our lovely recipe.
Hot Cross Buns
1 1/2 cups (375ml) milk
1/2 cup (110g) castor sugar
2 x 7g satchels dried yeast
4 1/4 cups (635g) 'strong' bread flour (see tips)
2 tsp All Spice
2 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Nutmeg
1 tsp Ginger (optional)
1/2 tsp Cardamom (optional)
1 1/2 cups (255g) sultanas
50g candied mixed peel (optional)
50g unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, lightly beaten, at room temperature
75g plain flour, plus extra
1 x sandwich sized zip lock bag for piping
4 tbsp apricot jam
1/3 cup (85ml) water
1. Heat milk in your microwave for 45-60 sec until it is lukewarm but not scalding. Add 2 tsp of castor sugar and yeast and mix to combine. Set aside for 5 mins or until yeast starts to activate and become frothy.
2. Sift flour, remaining sugar and spices into a large bowl, add sultanas and peel (if using) and mix to combine. Add melted butter, egg and milk mixture and mix until a sticky dough is formed.
3. Tip your dough onto a floured surface and knead for 8 mins or until dough is elastic and smooth. Place into a clean lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm, draught free area for 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size.
4. Line a large baking tray with baking paper, allowing it to come up two the sides. Punch down the dough and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Using the palm of your hand, on a clean bench roll each dough into a tight ball and place onto your baking tray 1 cm apart. Cover with lightly oiled plastic wrap and set in a warm place for 30 mins, until nearly doubled in size. Preheat oven to 200C deg (reduce temp to 180C deg if using fan forced).
5. For the crosses, combine plain flour and water in a bowl and mix until a smooth paste is formed. Transfer to your zip lock bag and snip off the corner to create a piping bag. Pipe crosses on buns. Bake for 20-25 mins or until buns are deep golden brown and springy to touch.
6. While buns are baking, make glaze by heating the jam and water in your microwave for 30 sec and mixing to combine. Once buns are ready, remove from oven and immediately brush with glaze. Remove buns from baking tray and set aside on a rack to cool slightly before serving.
I use the Tandaco 7g Dry Yeast satchels for this recipe which are available in your larger supermarkets. If your yeast doesn't go frothy, you will need to discard your mix and try again with new yeast. Soz. Check your packet and make sure it is still in date or make sure your milk isn't too hot as scalding milk can kill the yeast. To get technical, for dry yeast the milk temp needs to be around 40-45C deg and for fresh 35C deg.
If you have access to fresh yeast in the block form (lucky you!), you will need 28g for this recipe. The maths - you need double the quantity of fresh yeast to dry yeast. Just crumble it into your warm milk mixture, mix to combine and wait as per recipe for it to become foamy.
I use any combo of dried sultanas, raisins, currants and I've even used my leftover Christmas dried fruit mix for this recipe too. Just make sure you use the same quantity!
To keep your spices simple you can just use 2 tsp of All Spice and 1 tbsp of ground cinnamon. I've tried a combination of lots of things, even grinding up some of my Chai Tea to mix things up a bit.
There are many ways to help dough rise, first and foremost you need a warm environment. I often turn my oven on at max heat at the beginning of the cook to help warm the room up or you can simply pop on your heating. The lights on my kitchen range hood also throw out a good bit of heat so I often pop my yeasted items under there with a clean t-towel on top to stop the direct heat hitting the dough.
Bread Flour - you can usually buy 'bread' flour now from the main stream supermarkets and by using it in this recipe, your buns will be fluffier and a little more chewy than using plain flour.
Using your mixer to knead the dough is great if you have one! I have a KitchenAide and it takes about half the time of manual kneading to get your dough nice and smooth. Personally I love the manual kneading moment in this recipe, it's very soothing for the soul.
As mentioned above, these are absolutely at their best when eaten within hours after they are made. If you don't get to them, simply toast them or pop them in your microwave for 15 seconds to give them a little revival. Or head down to my alternative Hot Cross Bun and Butter Pudding recipe below which is great for the left overs if there happen to be any!
Soooo the leftovers - really people! Sacrilege!
If you do happen to have leftovers or your family and friends happened to get stuck on the motorway during the mass Easter exit and simply didn't arrive, here's a beautiful recipe just in case!
Hot-Cross-Bun and Butter Pudding
6 Hot Cross Buns, sliced in half (if they are large, you can slice them into 3 layers)
butter, softened for spreading
1 cup of your favourite jam or marmalade
3 tbsp brandy
600ml thickened cream
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
zest of one orange (optional)
1 tbsp demerara sugar
1. Preheat oven to 170C deg. Butter your bun slices on one side then top with your favourite jam or marmalade. Layer them on an angle into a 2-litre (8 cup) baking dish. Drizzle with brandy.
2. Whisk the cream, milk, eggs, caster sugar, vanilla and zest (if using) in a bowl and whisk to combine. Pour evenly over buns and top with currants and demerara sugar. Set aside for 15 mins for the buns to drink up as much liquid as possible.
3. Place pudding dish into a larger roasting tray and fill with enough water to come halfway up the side of the pudding dish. Bake for approx 45 mins or until golden and crusty on top and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and serve with a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream or creamy yoghurt.
I used blood orange marmalade in this recipe and omitted the orange zest. It was a perfect combo and not too sweet! I've also made it with cherry jam which was a little sweeter, so maybe just pull back on the amount you use, ever so slightly.
Vanilla paste is available from the baking section of your supermarket. Use 1 tsp of vanilla extract if that's all you have.
Take some 'you' time this Easter by popping on your favourite soothing tunes, slowing yourself down and mindfully kneading away at your beautiful puffy bun dough. It's a once in a year cook well worth taking some time to enjoy! Happy Easter!
Disclaimer: ok yes, two chockie Easter Bunnies were kinda eaten during the writing of this blog.
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