I just finished the BBA Challenge and instantly joined a new baking group founded by Paul: the Mellow Bakers. It’s all about baking at a relaxed pace. Currently, we are baking from the book “Bread” by Jeffrey Hamelman, and with Easter being around the corner, the first bread we decided to bake in this group are Hot Cross Buns. You’ll find the recipe on page 266 or an adapted online version here. I’ll also submit this to Bread Baking Day #28 the theme of which is – how surprising – BUNS!
I started making them yesterday. I read through the directions for the sponge and read that the desired temperature was 80°F. Hmm, the milk comes out of the fridge, so the sponge would be way cooler than the desired temperature, so I decided to heat it up in the microwave a little bit (the milk, not the sponge). After 30-40 minutes, the sponge is supposed to have tripled or even quadrupled. Mine, easily did that!
I then mixed the flour, butter, egg, sugar, salt and allspice, added the sponge and after about 6 minutes of kneading, I added the candied orange peel and golden raisins. I had soaked the candied orange peel and golden raisins in apple juice for about 2 hours (not called for in the recipe, but I thought that would make the raisins and candied orange peel less dry). Of course, I drained them before adding them to the dough, but they were moister than the reicpe intended, so I adjusted the flour amount a little bit until I thought the dough felt right.
I fermented the dough for 30 minutes, folded it and fermented it for another 30 minutes. Then I divided the dough into 12 equal pieces of about 2,7 ounces each, put them on a sheet pan, covered them with plastic wrap and, because it had gotten really late, stuck them in the fridge for an overnight rise, hoping this wouldn’t cause any damage. This overnight rise is NOT called for in the recipe, but Peter Reinhart swears by cold fermentation, so I was pretty sure everything would be fine.
Today I took them out of the fridge at 2 pm and let them rise on the counter. 3 hours later I prepared the crossing paste, which surprisingly contains different ingredients depending on which printing of the book you have. Older printings seem to call for flour, water and oil (here and here), whereas newer printings call for butter, sugar, egg, milk, vanilla, grated lemon zest and flour (here). I seem to have a newer printing, thus I mixed the aforementioned ingredients (I made a 1/2 recipe of the paste, but a 1/3 recipe would have been enough), crossed the rolls and baked them for about 13 minutes.
Meanwhile, I prepared the simple syrup by mixing water and sugar and bringing it to a boil. I also made a 1/2 recipe here, but a 1/4 recipe would have been sufficient. When the buns came out of the oven, I brushed them with the syrup, and after about 10 minutes, I took the first bite. WONDERFUL! These are incredibly yummy, soft and sweet rolls with a hint of lemon, vanilla and allspice. YUM! I will make these again very soon. I’m so glad I went with the “decadent” paste version: it’s a really nice addition to the rolls!