Hey artichokies. Yup, it’s been a while, I’ve been on a break and hey boo, I’m so ready for the life of cookies again. Man, I missed this shit. So, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but since the inception of this blog I’ve only ever made one bread type thing. Well, simply put, baking bread terrifies me. It is just one of those things that rarely come together and I just run as fast as I can. That and I bloat like a blimp when I have bread so for a long time, bread has been a non-starter. But today? Today? TODAY? I make hot cross buns. In fact, I challenge myself to make 4 bread options because I ain’t afraid of no bloat.
Anyway, ok, let’s get into these Easter treats.
Get it together young man
- 500g white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 10g salt
- 75g caster sugar
- 10g (one envelope) instant yeast
- 40g unsalted butter, softened
- 2 medium eggs, beaten
- 120ml warm full-fat milk
- 120ml cool water
- 200g sultanas
- 1 nectarine, pitted and diced
- 4 tsp ground cinnamon
- 2 tsp ground nutmeg
For the crosses
- 75g bread flour
- 75ml water
- For the glaze
- 3 tbsp. honey
Mix it in a pot
- Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the butter, eggs, warm milk and half the water in the middle of the well and combine the mixture round with your fingers. Gradually add the water, a little at a time, until you’ve picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. Continue to add water until the dough is soft, but not soggy. Use the mixture to clean the inside of the bowl and keep going until the mixture forms a rough dough.
- Flour your countertop lightly and tip the dough onto your floured work space. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes. If you have a stand mixer you can use it with the hook attachment to make the process easier and quicker. Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin.
- When your dough feels smooth and silky, put it into a lightly oiled large bowl. Cover with a kitchen towel and leave to rise in a warm spot for at least an hour and it has doubled in size.
- Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and scatter the sultanas, nectarine and spices on top. Knead in until evenly incorporated. Cover and leave to rise for another hour.
- Fold the dough inwards repeatedly until all the air is knocked out. Divide into 12 pieces (weigh to ensure consistence) and roll into balls. Place, 5cm away from each other on 1 or 2 baking trays lined with baking parchment or silicone paper.
- Cover each tray loosely with cling wrap and leave to rest for 1 hour, or until the dough is at least doubled in size and springs back quickly if you poke it lightly with your finger.
- Heat your oven to 220°C.
- For the crosses, mix the flour and water to a paste. Using a piping bag fitted with a fine nozzle, pipe crosses on the buns. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
- Warm the honey on low heat just before the buns come out of the oven and brush over the tops of the warm buns to glaze. Cool on a wire rack.
I like big buns and I cannot lie
Ok, so based on my introduction there are only two questions that matter: did they come out ok and did I puff up like a Disney princess dress? Well, half the batch came out perfect (I was a dunder head for a bit) and nope, no food baby appeal so I’m happy.
So, before you attempt these you need to know and understand that this involves three hours of rising, THREE HOURS, not all at once but rather three, one hour rising “sessions”, this was incredibly annoying for me because like some idiot I thought it would be fun to bake these on Friday night, I gave up and went to sleep at 10 before the third rising. Hey, maybe that’s why we make these for Easter. You know who also rose over Easter? Jesus. (Poor joke I know)
So yea, after I incorporated the nectarine and spices and allowed it to rise I became waaaaaay too tired to carry on. I covered the bowl with cling wrap and popped it in the fridge for kneading and proofing in the morning. I was a bit scared that the proofing process may be stunted and id end up with chewy bread, nope. The next morning at 6 am I pulled it out the fridge and let the dough reach room temperature and continued on from step 5 like nothing happened and no issues were had.
Ok, in to clarify my earlier point where I said only half the batch was perfect and me being a dunder head, I accidentally turned off the oven mid baking and was super confused as to why they weren’t baking only to discover my error later and decided to over bake the batch to unconsciously compensate. Yup, this is how my brain works in the morning, don’t @ me. This resulted in an over baked crust but otherwise, they were dope on a rope.
In terms of taste, these came out pretty good. Fluffy little delights, I really wanted to hug and eat them at the same time. My only issue with taste is that I may have taken it a bit too easy on the spices, I like my buns really spicy so I’ll probably double up the quantities next time but the ratio above is perfect for a milder bun.
I won’t say they were difficult to make in terms of technique but I would say they are a labour of love, especially if you don’t have a stand mixer. My only tips are to make these when you have ample time, no way you can rush these out and weigh out the dough for the buns just to make sure they bake evenly and remain consistent.
Ok, so this is my second bread recipe, the first was the cinnamon rolls, and I did what I set out to do. 1, done fuck them up 2, don’t bloat. Mission accomplished, I can rest. Anyway, go forth and bake these thangs my darling pops.