Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hot Cross Buns

A reader emailed me asking if I had a hot cross buns recipe. I didn't, but I thought that sounded like a great idea for the upcoming Easter holiday. My go-to guy is Peter Reinhart, but his recipe was basically a spiced panettone, which sounded delish but also like way too much work (what with it being leavened by wild yeast instead of commercial). But I do love the taste soughdough starter brings to bread, so I incorporated some into this recipe, veganized and adapted, and came up with this. I used citrus zest instead of candied peel (because I hate it), and it provided the perfect balance to the spiciness of the dough. The buns are chewy and moist, substantial but not dense.

Make 12
- 1 cup warm soy milk (about 90 degrees)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp instant or active dry yeast (not rapid rise)
- 1/4 cup sourdough starter (optional, see method)
- 2 tbsp ground flax seed
- 3 tbsp warm water
- 2 tbsp orange juice
- 3 1/2 to 4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp cloves
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 cup melted margarine, or oil
- zest of 1 orange
- zest of 1 lemon
- 3/4 cup currants
- soy milk for brushing

- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup sugar

- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 tsp light corn syrup (optional)
- 2 tsp orange juice (more as needed)

1. Mix sugar, soy milk, and yeast together in a large bowl. Let sit until yeast is hydrated (about 1 min for instant yeast, a few mins for active dry). Mix in sourdough starter. If you don't want to use the sourdough starter, just add 2 tbsp of soy milk to the above amount and proceed forth).
2. In a separate small bowl, mix flax seed and water together. Let sit for 1 min to hydrate, then whisk until thickened. Whisk in orange juice, then add to soy milk mixture.
3. Add 3 1/2 cups of flour, spices, margarine, and zests and bring into a dough, adding more liquid or flour as needed. The dough should be firm but still tacky. Knead on a lightly floured surface (or in a stand mixer) for 5-8 mins, until smooth, kneading in the currants right at the end.
4. Place in an oiled bowl, turning dough to coat, cover, and let rise until doubled (1 to 1.5 hours).
5. Line a backing sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (about 100g each), and shape into a ball. Place on prepared sheet and press down to flatten. Mist with oil, cover, and let rise until about doubled (30-45 mins). Preheat oven to 400.
6. Before baking, uncover and cut a shallow cross into the top of each bun with a razor blade or sharp knife. Brush with soy milk and bake for 15-17 mins, until a deep golden brown.
7. While buns are baking, bring glaze ingredients to bubbling over medium heat in a small saucepan. When buns come out of the oven, brush with glaze. Let sit for 1 min, then brush with glaze again. Let cool in the pan. The glaze is optional. It adds some sweetness, but also helps keep the buns fresh by sealing them off from the air.
8. When buns are cool, mix together icing ingredients (it should be stiff but not too stiff) and fill in the cross shapes with a piping bag. The corn syrup is optional, but does help the icing retain its shape.

NOTE: If you want to bake these buns up fresh on Easter day, the dough will keep in the fridge (I had my dough in the fridge for 24 hours). So, make the dough, place in a greased bowl, cover, and place in the fridge overnight to rise. On baking day, remove the dough from the fridge, cut into 12 pieces, and shape into buns while still cold (it's a bit harder to do cold). Mist with oil, cover, and let rise in a warm place until almost doubled (this will take about 1.5 hours). Score and bake as per the recipe above. The end result is more tender and a little more complex in flavour.