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Hot Cross Buns – Great British Bake Off

It wouldn’t be Easter unless I make – and blog – hot cross buns. Well there’s a story in this. A week or two ago I made my first day batch. And then I made my second batch. Different recipes, both very tasty, but both a little too dark on top. I won’t use the burnt word, but they were heading in that direction…

So yesterday, the Thursday before Good Friday, I started all over again. I was watching a GBBO Easter special, where Paul Hollywood made hot cross buns. I’ve made Paul’s HC buns before, and posted the results, see here.

Paul used a slightly different recipe on the show, so I thought I would give it a go. I was pleased with the results, particularly as the buns were a respectable shade of brown, not too dark!

Here is Paul’s recipe. I include Paul’s oven temperature, but I took his 220 degrees C down to 190 degrees C as I think my oven runs hot. It’s up to you what you think works best.

Also, I added an additional 50g of sour cherries to the sultanas, as I love sour cherries and I like extra fruit in my buns.

Ingredients

For the buns
300ml full cream milk
500g strong white flour
75g caster sugar
1 tsp salt
7g fast-action yeast
50g butter
1 free-range egg, beaten
150g sultanas
80g mixed peel
1 apple, cored and chopped
2 oranges, zest only
2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the cross
75g plain flour

For the glaze
3 tbsp apricot jam

Method

Bring the milk to the boil and then remove from the heat and leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature.
Mix the flour, sugar, salt, yeast, butter and egg together in a bowl, then slowly add the warmed milk until it forms a soft, sticky dough.
Add the sultanas, mixed peel, chopped apple, orange zest and cinnamon, then tip out of the bowl onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for five minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film (I use a plastic shower cap – works really well!)and leave to rise for approximately one hour, or until doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 12 even pieces, and roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured surface. Arrange the buns on a baking tray lined with parchment, leaving enough space so that the buns just touch when they rise and expand. Set aside to prove for another hour.
Heat the oven to 220 degrees C.
For the cross, mix the flour with about five tablespoons of water in small bowl, adding the water one tablespoon at a time, so that you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses.
Bake for 20-25 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, or until golden-brown.
Gently heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve to get rid of any chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.

Hot Cross Bun Cookies

It will soon be Easter so it’s time to start the Easter baking. If you’re looking for something different from hot cross buns, these cookies are a good alternative. I wouldn’t expect anyone to give up hot cross buns of course, but adding these cookies to your repertoire is a great idea.

The recipe is based on one from Donna Hay, with my usual tweaks. There’s no “bun” in the cookies – but hey, they have all the flavour of buns so they are entitled to the name!

Ingredients

125g softened butter
175g brown sugar
2 free-range eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
2 teaspoons lemon zest
375 self raising flour
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
80ml milk
80g sultanas
160g icing sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Method

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line 2 baking trays with baking tray.
Cream the butter and sugar in a food processor. Add the eggs and vanilla, making sure the eggs are well incorporated.
Add the lemon zest, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, milk and sultanas to the food processor and mix in. Be careful not to over mix in case you break up the sultanas.
Refrigerate the mixture for 30 minutes or until firm. Roll tablespoons of the mixtures into balls and place on the baking trays.
Bake between 10-15 minutes, depending on the hotness of your oven, until the cookies are pale brown. Remove from the oven and cool on the baking trays.
To make the icing, place the icing sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and mix to a paste. Place the icing mixture in a piping bag and pipe a cross on each cookie. You don’t have to be too precise, the flavour of the cookies is more important than a beautifully executed item! Or that’s what I think anyway.

Hot Cross Buns: Three Great Recipes!

I’m in the throes of making hot cross buns today, Good Friday, 2017. My buns are at the moment in the fridge having their overnight first prove. If you’ve not done this before, a slow fridge prove creates a flavour superior to a short warm prove.

But more of these buns anon when they’re out of the oven!

Here are my three favourite hot cross buns so far in my Easter baking journey, two Jamie Oliver recipes and a Paul Hollywood recipe. I have shown photos of each, with a link to my recipes in previous posts.

Making your own hot cross buns is fun, seasonal and very very satisfying!

No 1. Jamie Oliver Hot Cross Buns from the Jamie Oliver website
https://thequirkandthecool.com/2016/03/26/hot-cross-buns-jamie-oliver-inspired/

No 2. Jamie Oliver Hot Cross Buns from Jamie Magazine
https://thequirkandthecool.com/2014/04/13/jamie-olivers-hot-cross-buns/

No 3. Paul Hollywood’s book “How to Bake” and it’s on his website too.
https://thequirkandthecool.com/2015/04/03/paul-hollywoods-hot-cross-buns/

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Double Chocolate Tart

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I call this Double Chocolate Tart as it has a rich dark biscuit pastry chocolate shell, filled with  – wait for it – dark and milk chocolate! So maybe it’s a triple chocolate tart?

This was our dessert for Easter Sunday lunch, on March 27. It’s rich, dense, bitter sweet and a little goes a long way.

I served the tart with strawberries, some of them chocolate dipped, and fresh figs, which in Sydney in our warm and sunny Autumn, are ripe and plentiful. And whipped cream, just to cut through the “chocolateyness”.

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Ingredients

For the pastry:

175g unsalted butter
75g icing sugar
2  free-range egg yolks
200g plain flour
50g dutch cocoa

For the filling:

150g milk chocolate
150g dark chocolate
400ml cream
2 free range eggs +1 egg yolk lightly beaten

To decorate:

Strawberries, dark chocolate, fresh figs, or any other fresh fruit of your choosing. Orange segments would be lovely!

Method

I make this pastry recipe in the food processor, but you could do it in an electric mixer or by hand. I use the food processor because it’s easy.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

Cream the butter and icing sugar together in a food processor. Add the eggs and yolk and mix thoroughly. Sift the flour and cocoa. Have 25ml of cold water ready. Add a little of the water and all of the flour/cocoa mix and pulse using the processor, stopping every now and then to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add as much of the water as you need so that the pastry comes together into a ball. Remove from the processor, wrap in cling wrap and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry on a surface dusted with flour  until about 5mm thick. This pastry is quite soft and delicate, be gentle, and you may need a little extra flour for rolling out. Line a 18cm or 20cm loose-bottomed tin with a circle of baking paper. The smaller tin gives you a slightly higher filling, the bigger a flatter tart.

Carefully line the tin with the pastry. Have a bit of overhang of pastry at the top – you can trim this after baking. Chill for 30 minutes. Line the pastry case with more baking paper and baking beans or rice and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and the beans and return the pastry case to the oven for 5 minutes until golden. Leave to cool in the tin, then trim any pastry edges.

To make the filling, place both kinds of chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Put the cream in a saucepan on the stovetop and gently bring to a simmer. Immediately pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Leave for a few minutes while the chocolate melts, then stir to make sure the chocolate and cream is combined.  Stir through the lightly beaten eggs, then pour the mixture into the tart shell.

Put into the oven, turn the temperature down to 140 degrees C. Bake for 1 hour or until the filling is just set and wobbles in the middle if you gently move the tin. The shallower the filling, the less time the tart will take. As with so much cooking, your cook’s judgment is needed here to know when the filling is just right!

Remove from the oven and let cool in the tin. Place in the fridge and chill for at least an hour. I made the chocolate tart the day before and chilled overnight. Bring the tart to room temperature before serving.

Serve with any fresh fruit you fancy. I dipped some strawberries in melted chocolate, and scattered these with fresh strawberries and fig quarters on the the top of the cake. A dollop of whipped cream looked good too.

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Jamie Oliver Inspired Hot Cross Buns

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So it’s Thursday night, before Good Friday 2016. I’m making hot cross buns AGAIN! This time I’ve gone back to a Jamie Oliver recipe I made last year. I really like this version, as Jamie includes stem ginger in the original bread mix, plus cranberries as well as sultanas in the fruit. I used an apricot jam glaze instead of honey, as I prefer the slightly tart taste of the apricot.

I tweaked of course: adding a larger quantity of fruit because I like my hot cross buns jammed pack with fruit; and I used the fridge proving method for both the first and second proves. This was more for convenience  – I could go to bed knowing my buns were happily proving over night! I usually prove my bread baking in the fridge, as James Morton, in his book Brilliant Bread, is in favour of the retarded fridge prove.

So here is Jamie’s recipe, with my additional fruit quantities and an apricot glaze. I leave tinkering with fridge proves up to you.

Oh, and once they’re made, I “snap” freeze any hot cross buns that won’t get eaten straight away. They freeze really well and can be heated in the microwave or conventional oven when required.

Ingredients

200 ml semi-skimmed milk
55 g unsalted butter
2 x 7 g sachet dried yeast
455 g strong bread flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ whole nutmeg
55 g caster sugar
2 pieces stem ginger
1 large free range egg
2 tablespoons plain flour
100g sultanas or raisins (55g in original recipe)
60g dried cranberries (30g in original recipe)
2 tablespoons mixed peel
1 tbls apricot jam for the glaze

Method

Add the milk and 50ml water to a small pan and place over a low heat for a few minutes, or until slightly warm – you should be able to dip your finger in without scalding it.

Meanwhile, add the butter to a separate pan and place over a low heat for a few minutes, or until melted, then set aside.

Transfer the warmed milk mixture to a medium bowl and stir in the yeast. Set aside.

Sift the flour into a large bowl, then add the salt, spices, a few good scrapings of nutmeg and the sugar. Finely chop the stem ginger and stir it into the mix.

Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted butter, followed by the yeast mixture. In a separate bowl, beat the egg and add it to the bowl.

Using a fork, mix well until you have a rough dough, then transfer to a clean flour dusted work surface and knead for around 10 minutes, or until soft.* Return the dough to a flour dusted bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for at least an hour, or until doubled in size.

Transfer the dough to a clean flour dusted work surface. Knock the air out by bashing it with your fist, then sprinkle over the dried fruit and mixed peel and knead into the dough for 1 to 2 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees C.  Grease and line a large baking tray.

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll each into balls. Evenly space them out on a lined baking tray as you go.

Cover with the tea towel and leave in a warm place for a further 30 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Meanwhile, place the plain flour and 2 tablespoons water into a small bowl and mix to a thick paste.

Gently pat down the risen buns then use the batter to carefully trace a cross over the top with a piping bag or spoon.

Place the buns into the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Transfer to a wire cooling rack, and brush with the apricot jam that has been mixed with a little warm water.

Serve warm with butter.

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* You could do this first knead in a mixer using a dough hook. I have done the knead by hand and in a mixer – the latter method just saves arm work!

Hot Cross Buns – James Morton Inspired

 

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I made my first batch of hot cross buns yesterday, Friday 18 march 2016. I am still in search of that elusive “best ever” hot cross bun recipe. Last year I made two different Jamie Oliver recipes, a Paul Hollywood version and  a combination of  the best of all three! Confusing! They were all good in their own way, but still don’t think they satisfy my my elusive “best ever” bun…

So yesterday I turned to the best bread baker around in my opinion, James Morton, for his hot cross bun recipe and found a lovely recipe packed full of spices and fruit, and brandy added in too for that extra kick.

I have deviated in a few ways from his original recipe: I used plain instead of wholemeal flour for the additional 100g; I used Cointreau instead of apple brandy; I rather like the traditional dough crosses so I went with those instead of James’ icing crosses; I used an apricot jam glaze instead of a sugar glaze. Here is the link for James’ original recipe:

http://thehappyfoodie.co.uk/recipes/hot-cross-buns

I also made a change in the cooking method. James has a cinnamon bun recipe where he bakes the buns in a large cast iron casserole. This makes for beautiful soft buns.

So I decided to go with the casserole method of baking to achieve nice soft hot cross buns. By placing them inside the casserole, they join up after baking and become like pull-aparts. If you like more traditional, individually baked hot cross buns, then bake them on a baking tray. I  liked the result – soft pull-apart buns, moist and full of fruit and heady with spices, lovely straight out of the oven and great toasted the next day.

Ingredients

350g strong white flour

100g plain or wholemeal flour

2 x 7g sachets fast-action yeast

10g salt

100g mixed peel

2 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground cloves

½ tsp ground allspice

½ tsp ground ginger

½ nutmeg, finely grated

100g white sourdough starter (don’t worry if you don’t have this – you can make perfectly good buns without)

2 medium eggs

170g full-fat milk

40g honey

30g  brandy – Cointeau or Grand Marnier (James suggests apple brandy)

50g butter, softened

200g raisins

For the crosses:

2 tbls plain flour

Enough water to make a stiff paste

For the glaze:

2 tbls apricot jam

A little water

Method

In a large bowl, combine the flours, yeast, salt and spices. Rub the salt and spices into the dry mix on one side of the bowl, then the yeast on the other. Add the starter, eggs, milk, honey, brandy and butter and combine to form a dough. Cover and leave to rest for 30 minutes.

Knead your dough for about 5 minutes, then add your raisins and continue to knead until the dough is holding together and passing the windowpane test, about another 5 minutes. Cover and leave to prove for 1–2 hours, or until at least doubled in size. You can do a retarded prove in the fridge for 10–14 hours – this improves the flavour, but as I wanted the buns made fairly quickly, I proved at room temperature.

Turn your dough out on to a lightly floured surface and separate into 12 roughly equal pieces. Roll each into a ball, and place in your cast iron casserole which has been lined with baking paper.

Leave to prove for a final 90 minutes or so at room temperature with the lid on the casserole.  About half an hour before you’re going to bake, preheat your oven to 220 degrees C.

At this point you can make your crosses. Mix the flour and water to a stiff paste, and either pipe onto the buns or hand roll, rather rustically, as I did, and place on top of the buns.

Turn your oven down to 200 degrees C, place the casserole, with lid on, in the oven, and bake for 20 minutes. Take the lid off and bake for a further 5-10 minutes until the buns are really brown. Meanwhile mix the apricot jam with a little warm water for the glaze.

When the buns are baked, take them out of the oven, and brush them with the apricot glaze, until they are shiny and sticky.

You will need to pull buns apart as they will have joined up in the oven. Serve with the best butter possible. I served mine with Pepe Saya, a lovely Australian butter made here in Sydney in the French style.

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Paul Hollywood’s Hot Cross Buns

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I love all Paul Hollywood’s recipes. He is a fantastic baker and really knows his way round any recipes involving yeast!

This recipe is from his book, a brilliant guide to all things baking –  How to Bakeand it’s on his website: http://paulhollywood.com/recipes/easter-hot-cross-buns/

The hot cross bun recipe is very good. It’s labour and time intensive, but it makes great buns! There are 3 provings, an hour each, so you need to get cooking early! Paul’s glaze for the warm buns is apricot jam. It gives a really lovely sweet and sticky flavour to the buns.

I left the buns in the oven a little too long. The taste was still lovely, but next time I will watch them carefully. My oven is hot and fast, but it may be worth considering the cooking temperature and time to make sure your buns are perfectly cooked.  Maybe it was just my oven – every oven is individual.

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Ingredients

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

10g salt

75g caster sugar

10g instant yeast

40g unsalted butter, softened

2 medium eggs, beaten

120ml warm full-fat milk

120ml cool water

150g sultanas

80g chopped mixed peel

Finely grated zest of 2 oranges

1 dessert apple, cored and diced

2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the crosses

75g plain flour

75ml water

For the glaze

75g apricot jam

Method

Put the flour into a large mixing bowl. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the butter, eggs, milk and half the water and turn the mixture round with your fingers. Continue to add the water, a little at a time, until you’ve picked up all the flour from the sides of the bowl. You may not need to add all the water, or you may need to add a little more – you want dough that 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.

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead. Keep kneading for 5-10 minutes. 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 tea towel and leave to rise until at least doubled in size – at least 1 hour, but it’s fine to leave it for 2 or even 3 hours.

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and scatter the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apple and cinnamon on top. Knead in until evenly incorporated. Cover and leave to rise for a further hour.

Fold the dough inwards repeatedly until all the air is knocked out. Divide into 12 peices and roll into balls. Place, fairly close together, on 1 or 2 baking trays lined with baking parchment or silicone paper. Put each tray inside a clean plastic bag and leave to rest for 1 hour, or until the dough is at least doubled in size and springs back quickly if you prod it lightly with your finger. Meanwhile, 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 apricot jam with a splash of water, sieve and brush over the tops of the warm buns to glaze. Cool on a wire rack.

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