Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Hot Cross Buns

This year, for a sweet breakfast bread for Easter, I turned to tradition, sort of. I had made hot cross buns once before, but that first time I didn’t choose well among recipes. That was a few years ago when I set out to make proper hot cross buns as they were originally intended to be made. The dough wasn’t particularly sweet or rich; there weren’t very many currants in the buns; and the flavor and texture were lacking in every way. What I learned was that the cross on each bun was traditionally made by piping a simple flour paste on top which baked into a white cross shape. Eventually, that white cross on each bun came to be embellished with icing after the buns baked and cooled. I learned something, but I didn’t especially enjoy those traditional buns. This time, I followed a new-fangled recipe from the Bouchon Bakery book. This dough was very rich, with plenty of sweetness, and it was filled with both currants and dried cranberries. The buns were brushed with egg wash before the final rising and again before going into the oven, and that produced glossy, browned tops. The white cross on these buns was made with a very thick icing flavored with cinnamon and cardamom. They were as delightful as I expected them to be considering the source. 

Like all the recipes in this book, the one for the brioche dough for these buns is very precise. There’s a page devoted to brioche with four variations one of which is brioche for hot cross buns. In the ingredient list, you’ll find 186 grams or one-half cup plus three and a half tablespoons of eggs and 167 grams or 5.8 ounces of butter. I broke eggs into a measuring pitcher and determined that three of the size of eggs I had that day was close enough, and just under eight tablespoons of butter is pretty much 5.8 ounces. Weighing flour, yeast, sugar, and salt and measuring milk was easy enough. The rich brioche was made in a stand mixer, and the recipe suggests a rather long mixing time for the ingredients before the butter was added. I left the machine turning until it really seemed like it had been quite long enough, and then I started adding pieces of butter. I was sure there was more butter than dough, but eventually, it was all incorporated. Dried currants and cranberries were plumped in boiling water for a few minutes before being drained and dried, and then they were spread into a layer on the dough which had been stretched into a rectangle. The dough was folded up and around the dried fruit, and it was placed in a bowl to rise for 45 minutes. The stretching and folding of the dough was repeated, and it was placed back in the bowl for another 45 minutes. After the second rise, the dough was divided into twelve rolls which were placed on a baking sheet, brushed with egg wash, covered with plastic wrap, and left to rise for an hour. Rich, buttery dough like this does need lots of time to rise. Before baking, the buns were brushed with egg wash again. They baked for about 30 minutes and were left to cool. The icing was made with confectioners’ sugar, a bit of cinnamon and cardamom, and just a dribble or two of milk. Thick stripes were piped across the buns. 

I snickered a little at the precision of the recipe, but I can't argue with the results. Unlike my first foray into hot cross buns, this is a version I’ll make again. And, I’ll happily, meticulously measure my eggs and butter for lots of other things from this book too. 

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24 comments:

  1. Love the egg wash trick! Their golden top is AMAZING! Berries inside must give a very nice sweet flavor! A must try bun recipe for me! Thanks Lisa!

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  2. I wish I'd had this on EAster.

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  3. Yum! They haven't discovered the icing embellishment here. Still just the flour paste cross.

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  4. Beautiful buns! They look perfect.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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  5. Hot cross buns are tradition around here. This does look like a great recipe Lisa.

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  6. Your hot crossed buns are perfected Lisa. Just beautiful. My lines swayed and dribbled a bit. I'll try again next year!

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  7. Cross buns look amazing!!! Hope you had a wonderful Easter

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  8. these are really beautiful Lisa! awesome job, I totally wish I could pluck one from the screen!

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  9. Lisa, it looks delicious. And than you for introducing me to the book, I like it a lot :)

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  10. Your buns look gorgeous and I think the white crosses would have a lot more flavour than the traditional! xx

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  11. These hot cross buns look perfect!

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  12. Currants and cardamom! Yum!

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  13. Lisa, great job! Sounds like a pretty involved process, but you surfed through it like a pro!

    I think I made this type of bread only once and did not care for the recipe I used.

    Gotta keep this book in mind, I'll have to get back to amazon.com (sigh)

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  14. Lisa, the buns look precious! Truly beautiful. I have that book and the precision of the measures is quite something, I agree. :)

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  15. Wow - these turned out great! So impressive! I'd love to give these a whirl sometime

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  16. They look as good uncooked as cooked. Congratulations on getting them so right this time. I have heard good things about that cookbook.

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  17. The Bouchon Bakery cookbook is crazy on exactness, but that is the way to achieve consistent results. Your Hot Cross Buns are just spectacular! A voluptuous celebration of Easter!

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  18. perfectly done, as far as i can tell. and that's coming from a girl who made hundreds over the week before easter! :)

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  19. Your hot cross buns look terrific...sounds like the perfect recipe. I hope to make these next Easter...I'll probably have to make mine sans fruit so the picky family will partake :)

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  20. Your hot cross buns look incredible. Baking is not my strength, so I'm always impressed with my fellow cooks that can make such incredible treats.

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  21. I just got this cookbook and haven't made anything from it yet...but maybe these buns are going to have to be my first!

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  22. Hmm, I had eyeballed that book and was thinking about picking it up but it might be a little too persnickety for me at this point, seeing as how just finding an hour or so to bake is a stretch. Your buns look lovely, though, can't wait to see what you make from the book next.

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  23. I love, love hot cross buns. I wish I would have made more this year. They are just so yummy! Yours look perfect with all that dried fruit and frosting!

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  24. There's something about the sweet, delicate nature of brioche that makes it a fave. Totally a fave!

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