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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hot Cross Buns

I decided, this year, to change up the way I made the Hot Cross Buns for our annual pagan/Easter celebration. For years, I have made a rich dough with sugar and butter, kneaded the mass twice, shaped the rolls and baked them the night before. The problem was, rolls sweetened with sugar tend to dry out a bit overnight. I wasn’t happy with the results, but I was not willing to wake up early enough to start them on Easter morning. I love my friends—but not that much. I just put a little more cream cheese on the tops.

This year, I decided to address the issue head on and made several changes.  First, I decided to use the wet dough into the fridge method, rather than the heavy kneading system. This cut down the preparation time from hours—knead, rest, knead, shape, rest, bake—to minutes. Measure ingredients, stir, rest overnight, and shape the buns in the morning. When you are looking at

 HCB for 18 people, this is a vast improvement.  Three loaves of bread dough in a lump is a challenge to knead well. It also allowed me to easily bake the buns in the morning, so that they were fresh and soft when people arrived.

Second, I added some whole wheat flour to the mix—2:1 white to fresh ground whole wheat. This improved the texture considerably. I changed out the butter for oil, which was a milder flavor, and did not add milk to the mix, but just water. The eggs came from the back yard. The most significant change in ingredients, however, was the shift from sugar to honey. Honey naturally retains moisture in baked goods, including bread. A Whole Wheat Honey loaf is golden and soft, slightly sweet, and very long lasting.

Finally, we had two spreads for the HCB. They are always crossed with a sweetened orange cream cheese, but I also put out the jar of lemon curd that was left over from Christmas. Nothing is bad with lemon curd on it.

NEW Hot Cross Bun recipe:

This should make about 24-28 buns, depending on how you divide the dough.

3 cups of water
1.5 T yeast
1.5 T salt
3 c ww flour
4.5 c white flour
1/3 c honey
¼ c canola oil
2 eggs
1 T cinnamon
1t cloves
2/3 cup of chopped apricots


Whisk yeast into water. Stir all other ingredients in until well combined.  Let set out while you decorate the hard boiled eggs, about two hours. Put in the fridge overnight, covered with a plastic bag. In the morning, cut into bun sized pieces, shape, allow to rise for half an hour, and bake until done. Remember that honey browns quickly and does not indicate doneness. When cool, frost.

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