Sunday, April 5, 2009

Long Time, No See: Hot Cross Buns

Homemade Pysanky eggs

Whoa. Jeebus christcake. Haven't been here for
 a while.

I have an excuse! I was sick, then high school started, then breaks and Disneyland and homework and dances and friends and insomnia and... life got in the way. I've also lost my cooking/baking drive a bit, so we'll see how this goes.

But this is the prominent baked good in our house at the moment. Hot Cross Buns... mmmm....

We make them every year. Usually during Lent, but we've been late this year and its closer to Easter than anything else. But my spring is not complete without them.


Makes 18-24 buns

2 packages yeast
1/2 cup very warm water (105-115ºF)
1/4 cup warm milk (90ºF)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3 1/2 to 4 cups unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
3 eggs, beaten lightly
1 cup raisins

1 egg white
pinch of salt

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla

Place yeast and warm water in bowl of mixer and stir to dissolve the yeast. Let stand for three minutes.

Add milk, oil, sugar and 1 1/2 tsp. salt to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Set aside.

In another bowl, mix one cup flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Stir flour ixture into yeast mixture with a whisk until well combined. Stir in the eggs. Now using a dough hook, gradually stir in 2 1/2 to 3 cups flour -- just enough to make a very soft, pliable dough.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-7 minutes. Return dough to bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rest for 20 minutes.

Knead dough again for 1-2 minutes (until smooth and elastic but not too firm). Gently flatten dough into a rectangle one inch thick. Spread raisins over rectangle. Fold the mass into an envelope and knead just until raisins are well distributed.

Shape dough into loose ball and p;ace in a lightly oiled bowl. Turn the dough to coat the top with oil and cover bowl with oiled plastic wrap. Let dough rise at room temperature until doubled in volume -- about 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Line two baking sheets with parchment. When sough had doubled in bulk, place it on a floured surface and divide into 18 even pieces (cut it into thirds, then in thirds again, then in half). Shape the pieces into small round buns. Place on pans. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap ad let rise at room temperature until almost doubled in volume -- 45 minutes to an hour.

Preheat over to 400ºF. Whisk together egg white and pinch of salt. When buns have doubled in bulk, make a shallow cross on the top of each bun with a sharp knife (try a serrated knife). Brush buns lightly with egg wash and reserve the remaining egg wash. Place pans in oven (use two ovens -- don't try to double up in one). Using a spray bottle, mist top and side of each oven with water 6-8 times and quickly close oven door. After 3 minutes, mist again.

Bake for 10 minutes; reduce heat to 350ºF, and bake for 5-10 minutes longer, or until buns have turned a nice golden brown. Transfer buns to rack and let cool for 5 minutes.

Combine reserved egg wash with powdered sugar and vanilla. Add water, if needed, to make frosting workable. While rolls and still warm, use a pastry bag fitted with a small plain tip to make a cross of frosting over the cross on each bun. These buns freeze well.


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