Hot cross buns make me a child again. Though it’s an Easter treat – and I can’t relate my childhood literally to Hot cross buns(as per the name) – ; these buns are very much similar to the buns made by a neighbourhood bakery (that was situated right opposite to my childhood home). I remember the very soft interior with tutti fruity – we use to call it Meetha bun. Every Sunday morning; papa would make bun makhan (butter). Mom says; when she was expecting me she used to have bun makhan almost everyday( Now, I know from where all this stubborn fat around my thighs has come from) Lol.
The only difference I see between traditional hot cross buns and the buns I have been fed, when in mommys tummy – is that the Hot cross buns have a good hint of spice in the making. The spice makes these very aromatic. When the buns were done in the oven, my home was full of soulful aromas. I was excited to open the door of the oven and was taking deep breaths to inhale more and more of that enticing fragrance.
Hot cross buns have so many interesting stories from history. Some says – Hot cross buns are an old English tradition, Saxons marked buns with a cross on the top in honor of the goddess Eostre (the goddess of light) whose day of celebration eventually became Easter.
English folklore said that Hot Cross Buns baked on Good Friday would never spoil throughout the following year.
Some bakers believed that holding on to one Hot Cross Bun and hanging it in the kitchen meant that all yeast products in the coming year would rise successfully.
Some sailors took Hot Cross Buns on their voyages to ensure their ships wouldn’t sink.
And friends who gift one another with Hot Cross Buns every year are said to remain friends for life.
The Hot Cross Buns are very easy to make at home, I am sharing some points here that will clear your doubts , if you have any. And also, here are few links that will help you understand the basics of bread making.
1. We will be starting by scalding milk, butter and sugar (scald means to heat it almost to the point of boiling, but turn off the heat before it boils). Then let it cool for at least 20 minutes or may be more, be careful we want the mix to be very warm, but not hot to the touch before adding flour.
2. If the yeast you are using does not get foamy when mixed with warm mix within 10 minutes. then the yeast is retarded; simply discard the packet and get a new one. It happens; if the Yeast is kept for long, and over a period of time the strength is lost. This will be of no use for any recipe.
3. I added tutti fruity + some cranberries to my recipe. But traditionally black raisins are used. Actually my black raisins are over and the jar was empty, when I checked. You can go for whatever is easy available in your kitchen closet. When adding the spices – mix Cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg, what ever is your favourite or even any combination of 2 or 3 will do justice to the flavours. Make sure not to over power the dough with spices.
4. I have used my regular hand held mixer with dough hook to make the bun dough, (was lazy to take out the big machine). You can use any or even make the dough with hand – it might take a bit longer to get smooth and elastic.
5. I do add a pinch a gluten powder when making bread dough. I feel adding a pinch strengthens the dough and helps in shaping the bread.
6. After the dough has risen (the first rise), eyeball the dough into equal small parts. Use sharp knife or a bench scraper to cut the dough into small parts, this makes the process quicker and neater in comparison to if you try to pull a small part away from a big ball of dough. With a bit of oil on your hands, roll the pieces into balls, use your fingertips to sort of pull the edges of the dough downward so the ball is a little more neat and tight…and ball-like.
7. After the rolls have risen but before you brush on the glaze, use a very sharp scissors to cut a cross in the surface of each roll. This will be a little groove in which we will lay the icing after baking.
After baking Hot cross buns
4 cups of all purpose flour
A pinch of gluten powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 large egg
1 cup (250 ml) of milk
7 gm of active dry yeast
1/4th cup 55gm of sugar
60 gm of butter
1 and 1/2 teaspoon of spice mix (Cinnamon, cardamom, allspice, nutmeg)
1/4th cup tutti fruity
2 spoonfuls of cranberries or raisins
For the egg wash
1 tablespoons of milk
1 tablespoon of lightly beaten egg
1/2 cup (60 grams) powdered or icing sugar
1 tablespoon milk or cream
In a pan scald milk, butter and sugar (scald means to heat it almost to the point of boiling, but turn off the heat before it boils). Then let it cool for at least 20 minutes. Sprinkle the yeast over the top of the warm milk mixture. Make sure the mix is lukewarm to touch; it should not be hot.
Meanwhile in the bowl, combine the flour, gluten powder, spices, and salt. Once the yeast is foamy, gradually add egg and milk mix to the flour mixture and beat (using a electric mix) until the dry ingredients are moistened. With the mixer on medium low speed, with the dough hook, gradually add the candied and dried fruit and continue to knead the dough until it is silky smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, turning the dough once, so the top is lightly greased. Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm spot to rise until it has almost doubled in size (about 1 1/2 – 2 hours) depending on the weather.
When the dough has doubled in size, gently punch it down to release the air, and divide into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a small round ball and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. They should be spaced so they have enough room to double in size. Cover the buns and place in a warm spot until almost doubled in size (about 60 minutes).
Using a sharp scissors cut a cross in the surface of each roll. Make an egg wash of one beaten egg and milk, and brush the tops of the buns with the wash.
Preheat oven to 400*F (200*C). Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the buns are nicely browned. Place on a wire rack to cool completely before glazing.
To prepare the Glaze: Combine icing sugar and milk and mix until smooth. Transfer the prepared glaze into a piping bag. Cut the end of the piping bag and pipe a ‘cross’ on the top of each bun.
Serve fresh to your loved ones and make memories.