Saturday, April 08, 2006

Hot Cross Buns

Growing up as an Evangelical I have a sneaking admiration for a lot of Catholic traditions that we never practiced. Formost among them all is the Catholic celebrations of Easter, Lent especially. I have practiced a Lentan fast for years now. OK, not a Real Lentan fast, a meal a day and a favored item not always food. Giving up something is good for you, makes you appreciate it. One thing I was never introduced to by my Catholic friends was hot crossed buns. How could they have kept them from me? I knew they existed. I knew from like, 4 years old, from the nursery rhyme.

I first experienced hot crossed buns as an adult working in a bakery. The owners, a Irish man from Boston and his thin, chain smoking, Spanish wife, were lapsed Catholics who were struggling to rediscover the church after family crises. I think they were a bit bemused by an Evangelical thrown into their eclectic crew. I worked part time in the evenings and weekends and later early, early in the morning. On Good Friday they started to churn out pans and pans of hot crossed buns. They sold them hot-from oven to bakery box and sold them as fast as they made them. I wondered that there were so many Catholics in that little town, but then I tasted one and realized there was more than Catholics turning out for these lovlies.

This is not their recipe, but I good one none the less.

Hot Cross Buns

  • 1¼ cups of warm water
  • ½ cup of soft brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons of dry active yeast
  • 4 cups of flour
  • 2 tablespoons of milk powder
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ cup of dried currants
  • ¼ cup of lemon zest
  • 2 oz of butter
  • 1 egg
In warm bowl combine water, sugar and yeast, stir gently then set aside until yeast activates and froths. Melt butter and set aside. In electric mixer (with dough hook) sift in flour, spices, milk, dried fruit and salt. Add yeast mixture then melted butter. Mix 8 minutes at a low speed until smooth and elastic. Cover and set aside until doubled in size. While rising, grease two cake pans. Cut 14 buns and place in pans then brush with egg wash. Let rise for another 40 minutes. Then bake at 400 for twenty minutes. While still warm cross with icing.

For the icing I am borrowing Alton Brown's.
Royal Icing
3 ounces pasteurized egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups confectioners' sugar
In large bowl of stand mixer combine the egg whites and vanilla and beat until frothy. Add confectioners' sugar gradually and mix on low speed until sugar is incorporated and mixture is shiny. Turn speed up to high and beat until mixture forms stiff, glossy peaks. This should take approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Add food coloring, if desired. For immediate use, transfer icing to pastry bag or heavy duty storage bag and pipe as desired. If using storage bag, clip corner. Store in airtight container in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

No comments: