Monday, April 20, 2009

Hot Cross Buns (a week late, sorry!)

This is a sweet roll that my grandfather used to make every Easter. And since I was sick last week, we made them yesterday!

The tradition is that the flecks of fruit represent the blessings in your life, and you think about and appreciate them as you eat the roll. Here's the recipe so that you can carry on the tradition for special holidays of your own!

3-4 cups flour
2 pkg yeast
1 - 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (depending on the freshness of your cinnamon and how much you like it)
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup oil
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3 eggs
1 cup candied fruit (the kind you use in fruit cake. alternately you could use currants, white raisins, slivered almonds, craisins... whatever you want)

Warm milk until it's lukewarm. Add sugar and yeast, set aside for about 10 minutes. Add oil, 1 cup of flour and beat in eggs one at a time.

Take second cup of flour and cinnamon, add to the candied fruit. Mix so that the goopy fruit is coated in flour and separates into bits. Add this to your dough and mix well.

Continue adding flour until dough forms. Knead about 7 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Let rise in a warm place (a closed oven with a pan of boiling water works nicely) for about 1 1/2 hours. Punch down and form into balls for the rolls (about 18). Alternately you can form the dough into 2 long loaves. This would be Panatone (pah-na-tone-eh) instead of Hot Cross Buns. Let rise for another 1/2 hour. You want these to be smooth and glossy so brush with a whipped egg white before baking. Bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes or until nicely browned.

Make a thick icing with powdered sugar, vanilla, a bit of milk and the leftover egg white. Pipe a cross onto the top of each bun. If you used almonds in your fruit mixture, you can add almond extract instead of vanilla.

Note: for the fruit in my rolls I used Citron (there was no candied fruit available at the grocery store this time of year) Craisins, slivered almonds and the zest of one orange. I also substituted one cup of white flour for whole wheat so I added a teeny bit more yeast as well (just let one teaspoon heap up). The rolls were delicious and I'm definitely using the wheat flour and the orange zest from now on. Also the pale green of the citron and the deep red of the cranberries will make these festively beautiful for Christmas so I'm going to be making these twice a year from now on (neighbors are now forewarned).

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