Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hot Cross Buns

I started making hot cross buns each year for Easter when we were living in NYC. You'd see these buns in bakeries all around the city and it finally occurred to me that these must be traditional in some households at this time of year. I always knew of them in nursery rhyme form only.

I took some photos this year as I made the buns, although I somehow managed to NOT take a picture of the final product. Too bad, since they're pretty.

The first picture is blending the dry ingredients along with lemon zest. The smell is one of the first that I associate with this recipe and I love it! Fresh, springy, and tart.

The next image hopefully makes you smell the zest of the orange. Note that this process was made more challenging this year as my daughter decided to eat the only orange in the house for breakfast. She had it peeled before I knew what was happening. I didn't feel like hiking to the store for another orange, so I worked with the bits and pieces. It was a little tedious, but I got what I needed.

The final picture is kneading. This dough requires 10-15 min of it. I was in the mood to knead by hand (vs. mixer) this year to feel the dough changing—and get an upper-arm workout in the process.

You can see Craisins and currants in there. Normally I use golden raisins, but couldn't find any in my cupboard. I actually preferred the Craisins in the final product because the tartness emphasized the zests so well.

If you want to try hot cross buns next year, here's the recipe I use. It's about 3 hours start-to-finish. That said, the rising time is extremely forgiving for these, and if you happen to leave them proofing for, say, 5 hours at some point as I did this year, it won't suffer for it. Also, I use a half-recipe of my own pie crust since it's simpler for me for the crosses. Don't trim them to the bottom, but leave ends long enough to tuck under the buns a little when they bake. It'll help keep them from flaking off if you have to transport or store them. These buns are extremely dense, and usually one per person suffices unless they really love bread. Those that love bread will make a meal of these with butter, right out of the oven. Mmm.

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