Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Friday: hot cross buns

Well, I had one good night's sleep this week.  My darling cat, Rio and I have a little routine.  Every night around 10:30 I chase him downstairs and we play "bean" for a few minutes (he chases a whole green bean like it is a mouse, it's the craziest thing) and then I leave him in the big windows "guarding" our home from the wildlife in the woods.  Then every night somewhere between 3:30 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. he calls for me outside my door and we go downstairs and I let him out to hunt in the garage (we do get mice from the woods, so there actually is some hunting going on) so I can go back to sleep without worrying about him waking everyone else in the house.  When my life isn't full speed crazy, this is just fine.  But it is full speed crazy right now and of course I did not fall back to sleep until it was almost time to get up with Sara.  Another day of not being terribly sharp.  A day when I have to get a lot done with Easter dinner here Sunday and a good part of Saturday spent at a lacrosse game in Culver.  Always love that trip because it's so pretty up there on the lake (Indiana is a little short on scenic lake views) and maybe it's a pretty Spring day.  Carmel has never beaten Culver since Sara's been in high school so maybe this is the year....But maybe someone else will have to drive.  I can't be trusted if this not sleeping thing goes on another night.

first of two!


Today is Good Friday and so today's post is hot cross buns.  My husband just called me out for eating two of them already.  Come on, I went to hot yoga and I'm about to go for a walk.  I'm probably not going to make it to church services today, so let me observe in my own way.  A warm bun and a hot cup of tea.  A little meditation.  All good.

Usually I enjoy hot cross buns from Panera a tradition started after a Friday morning tennis clinic that almost always found us lingering over coffee and treats and avoiding all the busy-ness of Fridays as long as possible.  Those Friday clinic days are long gone, but I'm still called to start my Fridays that way.

This is a recipe from King Arthur Flour.  When baking, look at their recipes first.  This was originally a Baking Banter Blog post.  A good read.  You can use any dried fruit you like.  I had currants and they are pretty traditional so that's the route I took.  Panera's hot cross buns have orange zest in them and I do love all things citrus, so that's my contribution to the recipe.  I used my bread machine on the dough cycle, but this is not a tricky dough to knead by hand.

One last aside, just remembering our first Good Friday when we lived in Hudson, Ohio.  We had a fabulous group of neighbors and everyone was in town for Easter weekend.  So why not have them all over for a little cookout?  And serve burgers?  Oops, I'm Methodist and we don't have the meat-free requirement.  Too funny.  If I remember correctly, all of my neighbors were Catholic.  Surely we had an alternative for them.  Lots of mac and cheese?  I just recall it being one of many fun spontaneous evenings we enjoyed in Winston Manor.

Have a good weekend with friends and family and Happy Easter if you observe!

Hot Cross Buns

1/4 C spiced rum
1/2 C currants or raisins
1/2 C other mixed dried fruit, optional
zest of one large orange
1 1/4 C milk, room temperature
3 large eggs, 1 separated
6 T butter, room temperature
2 tsp instant yeast
1/4 C light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves or allspice
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1 3/4 tsp salt 
1 T baking powder
4 1/2 C all-purpose flour


Topping

1 egg white, reserved from buns
1 T milk

Icing
1 C confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
4 tsp milk, or enough to make a thick, pipe-able icing

Spray a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray.

Mix the rum with the dried fruit (raisins, currants and other if using) and simmer on the stove until the rum is reduced in half.  Set aside to cool.

When the fruit is cool, mix together all of the dough ingredients except the fruit and knead by hand (it is pretty sticky), electric stand mixer with dough hook or bread machine until dough is soft and elastic.  Mix in the fruit and any liquid not absorbed.  Let the dough rise in the bowl covered with a tea towel for about an hour.  The dough will be puffy but may not double in bulk.

Divide the dough into billiard ball-sized pieces (about 1/3 C) to make 12 to 15 buns.  Use your greased hands to round them into balls.  Arrange them in the prepared pan.  Cover the pan with a tea towel and let them rise for about an hour until they are puffy and touching one another.  While the dough is rising preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Whisk together the reserved egg white and milk an brush the wash over the buns.

Bake the buns for 20 minutes, until they are golden brown.  Remove from the oven and transfer the pan to a rack to cool.

Mix together the icing ingredients and when the buns are completely cool,  fill a ziploc bag with the icing and snip a bottom corner to pipe a cross shape atop each bun.

simmer currants and rum
my family loves it when they see me with a big bottle in the kitchen

risen dough in the bread machine

dough balls, next time they will be smoother

risen and brushed with egg wash

out of the oven

ta-da!














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