Sunday, February 17, 2013

+ Hot Cross Buns! +

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Hot cross buns! 
Hot cross buns! 
One ha' penny, 
Two ha' penny, 
Hot cross buns!
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I've always wanted to make these Lent season baked treats, but never got around to it until now, as we were in charge of providing refreshments for the fellowship hour after church today. I thought it'd make the perfect occasion to try them out myself.

Hot cross buns have a fun, rich history and interesting superstitions attached to them. They are traditionally made and served during the Lent season, especially on Good Friday. Go read about them on Wikipedia! Seriously, it's very interesting.

They are made with a spiced, slightly sweet dough. Traditionally, raisins or currants {same thing, pretty much, I used currants} are added. To top them off, an icing cross is added, a symbol of the crucifixion--perfect for Lent!

To my surprise, they are very easy to make. Which is good because I made three batches last night, let the dough cold rise overnight in the fridge, and got up at 6 a.m. this morning to finish them up! I made three varieties  traditional with currants, a plain batch, and a batch with chocolate chips.
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I used Martha Stewart's recipe because it looked like the simplest for making a few batches. I'm not going to copycat what's not mine, you can find the recipe here.

The dough is a snap to whip up, you simply heat up the milk to warm and then dump all the ingredients--except for flour and your optional currants or chocolate chips--into a mixer, on slow, with the dough hook attachment. I didn't even have to proof the yeast.
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Looks kinda gross all mixed together, huh? {Like Texas Ware, if you know what I mean, Kellee.}
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Then dump your flour in 1 cup at a time, with the mixer still running on low.
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A lot of recipes I found use bread machines, this one is nice and easy with just the dough hook. Stop the mixer and knock it down {the flour sticking to the sides, that is} as needed.
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Knead the dough in your mixer for a few minutes after it's all wound up around your dough hook...
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Time to dump in the currants or chocolate chips, or nothing if you just want plain buns. The currants seemed to be the favorite at church, and mine too. I'm not even a big fan of raisins.
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Just get them started into the dough, but go ahead and dump the dough out onto a heavily floured surface to finish kneading for a few minutes.
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Some of the chocolate chips and currants would pop out, but that's okay. Just keep kneading.
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Then form it into a ball and roll it around a large buttered bowl to coat it.
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Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let it rise. You can let it rise until doubled, about an hour, or do what I did and cold rise it in the fridge over night. Supposedly a cold rise--also called retarding the dough--enhances the flavors. {Just don't forget to allow time for it to warm back up like I did...heh, I had to get creative with the oven on the warm setting this morning.}
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Punching down the dough, is this not everyone's favorite part??? I got to do it three times this morning!
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Form the dough into large ping pong ball sized dough balls, and place them 1/2" apart in a well buttered baking dish vintage Pyrex. Cover and let them rise another 45-60 minutes.
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One last touch to make the buns nice and shiny before we stick them in the oven, an egg wash. 1 egg white, 1 tablespoon of water, and a pinch of salt.
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Whisk and brush it on those beautiful buns. DSC_1374
Bake them at 375 for 20-25 minutes. My oven is horribly unevenly heated, so I rotated them half way through.
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While they are baking, whip up the icing for the crosses. Simply whisk your powdered sugar, milk, and lemon juice together in a bowl. I really loved the way the tangy icing complemented the bun's spiced flavor.
DSC_1368Put the icing in a pastry bag {or large Ziploc, if that's all you have handy} and cut off the tip {not too large of a hole, start small, you can always make it bigger}.
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Once those buns are baked and out of the oven, ERMASTIRS! Your kitchen will smell divine!
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Let them cool a little before piping on your icing crosses. The icing doesn't have butter in it, so it doesn't melt much but it will get a little bit runny if you try and apply it to the buns if they are still piping hot. Piping hot = no piping. Haha!
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This was my favorite part...so I took lots of pictures.
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Ta-da! Hot cross buns! They were a hit at church, people seemed to like them. When I make them again, because I will make them again, I will allow more rising time. Again, you can find Martha's recipe here.
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Hot cross buns!
If you have no daughters,
Give them to your sons!
One ha' penny,
Two ha' penny,
Hot cross buns!

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Make them during Lent or for Easter!
It's a new tradition around these parts.

Smooches to all my kissy boots!
Heather

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