Hot Happy Buns

- March 18, 2012 -

"gourmet pizza in the Cotswolds"

Our Kitchenaid has been very busy this weekend. We’re particularly proud of our hot cross buns – without the cross. We like to call them our hot happy buns. The first batch was a little flat, but with some extra kneading, the addition of some flour and a further prove, we’ve nailed them. The brandy-soaked raisins, sultanas and cranberries added an additional depth to flavour, while the spicing using cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg added a Christmassy aroma to our kitchen. Delicious. Here’s the recipe we used:

For the buns:
57g rum or brandy (we used brandy)
78g mixed dried fruit
78g raisins or dried currants (we used a mix of giant sultanas & cranberries)
283g milk, room temperature
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
85g butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons instant yeast
53g light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (add a bit more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
539g unbleached all-purpose flour

1 egg & milk beaten together for brushing

Mix flour and water together to make a paste thick enough to pipe.

1) Lightly grease a 10″ square pan or 9″ x 13″ pan.

2) Mix the rum or brandy with the dried fruit and raisins put in a saucepan and heat very gently until warmed through. Allow the fruit to cool.

3) Mix together all of the dough ingredients except the fruit (so the flour, eggs, butter, sugar, spices, salt, baking powder and yeast) and knead using your Kitchenaid, till the dough is soft and elastic. Then mix in the fruit and any liquid not absorbed.

4) Let the dough rise for one hour, covered. It should become lovely and puffy, but it may not double in bulk (mine did).

5) If at this point your dough is quite sloppy & sticky, add more flour. At this point I did a hand knead on a well-floured surface to create a bit more stiffness to the mixture. Divide the dough into billiard ball-sized pieces, which made about 12 to 14 buns. Arrange the balls into the prepared pan. Make sure that they’re quite close together because once proved, you want them to be touching.

6) Cover the pan with a teatowl and let the buns rise for one hour, or until they’ve puffed up and are touching one another. While the dough is rising, preheat the oven to 220C.

7) Take your flour paste mixture and put it into a piping bag or food bag (and snip off the end) and pipe crosses onto your buns.

8) Whisk together the egg and milk, and brush it liberally over the buns.

9) Bake the buns for about 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown. I had the oven really hot and checked mine after 15 minutes. You want them golden on top. Remove from the oven, and transfer to a rack to cool.