Monday, April 4, 2016

Hot Cross Buns

This isn't just a leap year on the Gregorian calendar.  It's a leap year on the Jewish one too, which means that there is an extra month.  I don't understand why, but it also means that Easter did not fall during Passover.  Some weird lunar-calendar thing.  And it means I could have hot cross buns for Easter breakfast.

Yes, of course I can make them any time I want, but it's like having a whole roasted turkey not in November.  There are some things that seem proper at their holiday.

These start with a half-batch of the Bible's standard sweet bread dough.  It's just a rich yeast dough with an egg and raisins in it.  The result is similar to a Hawaiian roll with icing.  These are a lot lighter than the Stollen, despite being similar in construction.  And they're kind of addictive.

1/2 C sugar
1 Tb (1-1/2 packages) yeast
4 C flour
1 C milk
1/2 C butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C raisins, currants, or similar dried fruit
1 tsp orange zest
egg wash or cream for brushing

1.  Warm milk, butter, and sugar to 100º (about 1 minute in the microwave).  The butter does not need to melt.  Stir in yeast and allow to sit until foamy, five minutes.

2.  In a stand mixer, combine 1-1/2 C flour and the salt.  Stir in milk mixture and beat into a batter for two minutes.  Add egg and 1 C flour and beat again until smooth.  Add raisins, orange zest, and enough flour to make the dough stable and stir to combine.

3.  Turn dough out onto a well-floured board and knead until smooth, adding just enough flour to get there.  An egg dough will absorb a lot more flour than is good for it.  Turn over in an oiled bowl to coat all sides and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour.

4.  Grease a 9x13 baking pan.  Punch down dough and separate into 12 pieces (mine were just under 3 oz each).  Roll into balls and arrange in pan in 3x4 rows.  Let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, or cover and refrigerate overnight and let rise in the morning for 30 minutes.

5.  Preheat oven to 350º.  With a sharp, floured knife, cut crosses in the tops of the rolls.  Brush tops with cream or an egg yolk beaten with a tablespoon of milk.  Both will make them dark, but egg will make them shiny.  If you're making your own royal icing for the decoration, do the egg yolk so you have a white left over.  Bake for 30 minutes, until browned on the tops, but still visibly soft where the rolls meet.

6.  For the icing, I just used leftover cream cheese icing out of the can.  You can make a simple fondant icing with powdered sugar, milk, and a touch of lemon juice.  Substitute egg white for the milk to make royal icing.  I never pay attention to quantities of the powdered sugar; I just start at 1/2 cup and keep going until it's the consistency I want.  Drizzle or pipe icing following the crosses you already cut in the rolls.  Serve hot.

Makes 1 dozen

Difficulty rating :)

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