Sunday, April 4, 2010

One a penny Two a penny

Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny hot cross buns.

Based on the nursery rhyme, it would appear the Hot Cross Bun market is facing extreme pricing fluctuations. It is an imprudent man who buys one for a penny shortly before the price crashes to two for a penny. Perhaps there was a HCB bubble, or the HCB market was suddenly liberalised, there may even have even been predatory pricing structures at play. Whatever the reason for the fabled crash, such an oscillating price makes shares in an Irish bank look like a safer investment. 

Most likely it is the limited availability driving the verse’s variation in price. Personally I can go a whole year without giving any kind of bun a second thought, but once Good Friday rolls around, I am overcome with a longing for the little golden puffs of breadiness, studded with mixed peel and headily scented with cinnamon. While there are so many lovely versions available commercially, given the season, there is something entirely appropriate about faithfully waiting for the dough to rise though it should take only a matter of hours, rather than three days.

The process of making these Hot Cross Buns, similar to the act of making bread, feels penitent, calming, a little moment of quiet in a weekend of cocoa fuelled exuberance. I have decided this year to go with a non-dried fruit version since the lovely Mr 9BR is dogmatic in his hatred of raisins, but you could substitute the chocolate in the recipe below for currants, sultanas or raisins, in whatever proportion makes you happy. I was tempted to tinker with the flavouring of the bland pasty cross perched atop each little bun, always a little bit of a disappointment but decided that for traditions sake to leave it be. This recipe is very orangey with a lovely subtle aroma of fresh zest. If making your own candied peel, make sure to use unwaxed oranges, so as to avoid unwittingly adding paraffin to the recipe.

Happy Easter.

125 mL (½ cup) milk
2 cloves
Cinnamon stick
50 grams (¼ cup) caster sugar
14 grams (2 tsp) dried yeast

125 mL (½ cup) orange juice
60 grams (4 Tbsp) melted butter
1 egg

4 ¾ cups (600 grams) bread (strong) flour
75 grams dark chocolate chopped quite small, less than 1cm x 1cm
1 cup (150 grams) dried mixed peel, or candied peel
teaspoon grated nutmeg
teaspoon ground cinnamon

Cross Paste
30 grams (¼ cup) Flour
45 mL (3 tablespoons) Water

30 mL (2 Tbsp) Orange juice
25 grams (2 Tbsp) Sugar
4 grams (1 tsp) Gelatine

Small jug or bowl
Mixing bowl
Baking tray
Piping bag, or sandwich bag
Pastry brush

Makes 16 buns

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Place the cinnamon stick, cloves and milk in a saucepan over medium heat and heat gently until just before bubbling. Remove from heat and leave to cool for 20 minutes or so. Remove cloves and cinnamon from the milk.

Combine warmish milk and caster in a jug or bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the top. Place in a warm non draughty place for ten minutes or until the mixture froths up. Add juice, egg and melted butter to the mixture and stir to combine.

In a bowl combine all remaining dry bun ingredients and stir. I have long given up sifting flour, and instead place it into the bowl first and give it a thorough whisking. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and bring together. The dough will be quite shaggy.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about ten minutes until the dough is elastic and smooth. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl and leave in that same warm non draughty place to have a little rest for itself for about two hours or until doubled in size.

After two hours turn dough out onto floured surface and give it a good punch in the centre. ‘Knock it back’ by gently kneading for about three minutes. Divide dough into 16 pieces (Make them even by halving the dough, then halving each piece again, and then again and then one last time) and place on tray in a grid about three centimetres apart.

Leave the tray back in that non-draughty place for 30 minutes or until the buns have risen a couple of centimetres.

In the meantime, mix up the cross paste in a bowl and put into a piping bag with a medium tip, alternatively, place into a sandwich bag and diagonally snip a couple of centimentres off the corner.

Pipe a line horizontally and vertically across the rows of buns to make the cross.

Place in oven at 180 degrees celcius for 30 minutes then remove and turn out onto a rack to cool.

Combine sugar, gelatine and juice over heat until sugar is dissolved and bubbles appear then leave to cool until slightly thick. Brush the top of each cooled bun liberally with the glaze.

Serve with plenty of butter.


Brownieville Girl said...

Wonderful photos!

Ciara O'Connor said...

WOOW!!! Non raisin hot cross buns!! My bro Mr9BR is making your recipes far superior!! I cant believe I can actually try a hot cross bun now. X

'NEEN at 9 BEAN ROW said...

Thanks so much BVG! I was lucky with the light.

Ciara, you could use some melted jam as the glaze instead of the gelatin if you cannot find non animal gelatin.

Doc said...

Have to try your Hot Cross Buns recipe, another non raisin lover in this house

Anonymous said...

My God, they look delish!

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