Hot Cross Buns
We have officially entered the hot cross buns season. I have attempted this before but was seriously disappointed. For one, the recipe had butter and milk, both of which I cannot have. With the lockdown, we will not get hot cross buns. To add to my misery my Instagram news feed was filled with hot cross bun recipe. This kicked in serious hot cross buns cravings. So after reading some blogs and trying to understand what goes into hot cross buns, I decided to write out something that will work for me.
Here’s my take on hot cross buns which are lactose free yet packed with flavor: cinnamon, candied ginger, five spice, and above all raisins soaked in rum for a whole year.
Baking your own bread or hot cross buns is not as difficult as you may think. It does seem like a long process, but it takes about 30 minutes of preparation. For the rest of the time, the dough is resting. It needs time to rise to the occasion!
The best part of baking these insanely gorgeous breads is that you will be rewarded with the most amazing aroma of freshly baked buns with hints of fruit and cinnamon spice wafting through the house. Believe me, it is so good!
· 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour/maida
· 1 1/4 tsp salt
· 1/8 tsp nutmeg powder
· 1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
· 1/2 tsp all spice powder
· 1/8 cup powdered sugar
· 1 egg (+ 1 egg for egg wash)
· 1/2 tbsp yeast
· 4 tbsp oil
· 3/4 cup almond milk
· 1/4 cup mixed fruit (preferably soaked in rum)
· 1/8th cup candied ginger, finely chopped (optional)
For the cross:
Equal portions of water and flour with a little icing sugar
I generally have fruit soaking all year through. If you do not have this, cut ¼ cup of mixed fruit (raisins – white and black; blackberries, blueberries, cherries). You can use this in the ratio of your choice. Cut them in decent size pieces and soak in rum overnight. You could use them as is, that is without rum. If you have soaked fruit, squeeze as much liquid and set aside. You can substitute almond milk with regular milk. You can substitute oil with 6 tbsp butter.
Gently heat the almond milk until it is lukewarm. Remove from the heat and whisk in the yeast and sugar. Let it rest. After a couple of minutes the yeast will start to froth. If it doesn’t, start over again.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, salt, spice powders. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and stir in the oil, yeast milk mixture, egg and mixed fruit. Bring together the ingredients using your hands. The dough should be soft and sticky. You can use a kneading machine. Depending on the type of flour used, you may need to add a little more liquid.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes or so, until the dough is smooth. Place the dough in an oiled bowl, cover with a damp tea towel or oiled cling film (plastic wrap) and leave in a warm place for an hour or so until it has doubled in size.
When the dough has risen, knead for a further 10 minutes then divide into 12 equal size balls. To ensure that the buns are exactly the same size and bake evenly, I weigh the dough. Each ball of dough weighed about 65 gms. Roll the dough into smooth balls and evenly space out on a large baking tray (28 x 40 cm / 10 x 15”) lined with non stick baking paper or aluminum foil. Cover with the damp tea towel / oiled cling film (plastic wrap) / foil and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes or so, until they have risen.
While you are waiting for the bread to rise, prepare the batter for the crosses.
To make the crosses, mix equal portions of all purpose flour (maida) and water. Add icing sugar, just a bit, say 1/2 tbsp if you are using 2 tbsps water and 2 tbsps flour. Make a thick paste, the paste should not be runny. Spoon into an icing bag with a thin nozzle (or snip the corner).
After the buns have risen, heat the oven to 180 deg C.
Mix egg yolk with a bit of egg white and whisk well. Egg wash each bun.
Slowly pipe the flour mixture along each row of buns, and then repeat in the other direction. Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes on the middle shelf, until golden brown.
These buns are most delicious served warm or toasted.
The buns will last 2-3 days in an airtight container. They also freeze well.