Tags: baking, bread, holiday
Every year I think about making Hot Cross Buns for Easter (or Good Friday, I guess), but I never get to it. Well, finally, this is my year! And let me tell you that eating one of these sweet, spiced buns freshly homemade is a real treat. I made these with currants and candied orange peel, although you could use raisins or craisins or whatever dried fruit and zest you choose. If you are British or Australian, you may not like what I’ve done on top here. A “traditional” English hot cross bun has a cross made not of icing (like mine), but of a flour and water paste that is baked on. But what can I say– I’m American and I like my icing!!
You’ll see that this recipe begins with preparing a sponge starter. It is really easy…there’s nothing to it but a little added resting time. The sponge lets the yeast get some extra fermentation, which is better for flavor and makes for nice soft buns. The rest of the dough is a snap to put together in a stand mixer. These aren’t so complicated to make, even if, like me, you don’t do a whole lot of bread baking at home…the hardest part is waiting for them to cool completely. You bet I devoured this guy with a little salty butter just as soon as he was cool enough to “cross”!
Hot Cross Buns- makes 12
adapted (quite a bit) from Bread: A Baker’s Book of Techniques and Recipes by Jeffrey Hamelman
Steph’s Note: There’s no real need to soak your currants or orange peel unless they are very dry. If that’s the case, I’d put them in a small bowl with a couple teaspoons of orange juice or Grand Mariner and microwave for ten seconds (cool before using).
for the sponge
38 g AP flour
190 g milk, about 85°F
9 g sugar
7.4 g (2-1/4 t) instant yeast
for the final dough
340 g AP flour
60 g butter, softened
57 g sugar
3 g salt
2 g ground allspice
2 g ground cinnamon
110 g dried currants
40 g candied orange peel, finely chopped
for the icing (amounts are approximate)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted if lumpy
4 teaspoons milk
-For the sponge, combine the milk and yeast in a medium bowl. Whisk in the flour and sugar. The mixture will be very loose. Cover and let rest until it is about 3 times its original volume, 30-40 minutes.
-In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, mix final dough flour and softened butter until the butter is evenly distributed through the flour.
-Add egg, sugar, spices, and salt. Continue to mix until combined. The mixture will be quite dry at this point.
-Switch to the mixer’s dough hook. Add the sponge and mix on low speed. Mix until well combined, about 3 minutes.
-Up the mixer to medium speed, and mix about 8 minutes. You can occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl, if needed. The dough will start to leave the sides and come together around the dough hook, and the gluten should have reached a medium level of development.
-Add the currants and orange peel and mix on low speed just until they are evenly distributed through the dough.
-Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled, covered container. Ferment in a warm place for one hour, giving it a fold (kind of like a letter) after 30 minutes.
-Turn the dough onto an unfloured counter and divide it into 12 pieces (about 70-75 g each).
-Form each piece into a ball. To tighten the ball, place it on the counter with your cupped hand loosely around it, and move your hand in a tight circle several times.
-Place the balls on a parchment-lined baking sheet (I used a 1/4 sheet tray…they did not touch when I arranged them on the tray, but as they proofed, they expanded to gently touch.)
-Cover and proof in a warm place for about an hour.
-Preheat the oven to 400°F . Bake the buns on the parchment-lined sheet at 400°F until the tops are browned, about 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350°F and continue baking until browned all over, about another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.
-When the buns are completely cool, whisk together the icing ingredients. You can add extra confectioners’ sugar or milk as needed to make a thick, but pipeable paste. Put it in a piping bag with a medium-small round tip and pipe it in a cross over the buns. They are best when eaten fresh (although I did freeze a few for the weekend).
Tags: baking, bread, holiday
We may represent six different continents, but this week we’re all Irish in TWD with Marion Cunningham’s Irish Soda Bread. I like Marion Cunningham. I think she seems like a cool lady, and I have a few of her books (the most well-used is The Breakfast Book). But I digress…
I knew that I wanted to have this bread with butter and marmalade on St. Patrick’s Day morning, but I didn’t know how I was going to pull it off for breakfast when it takes almost an hour to bake and then more time to cool. I was worried about making it in advance, because in the book, the recipe intro says it turns “as hard as the Blarney Stone” (which I have kissed, btw) after a few hours. Then I watched the video of Marion and Julia making the bread together…Marion whips out an already-made loaf and clearly says that it had been baked the night before, left to cool completely and then wrapped. So that’s what I did…I made it the night before and it was still perfect the next morning.
This recipe has just four ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt and buttermilk), and the dough is simply stirred together…it’s almost amazing that it turns into bread! I had actually wanted to sneak some currants in my loaf, too, but then I completely forgot about them until the second after I’d scraped the sticky dough into the pie plate. I wasn’t going to mess with it anymore at the point. No matter– the bread had plenty of flavor…a little salty and a little tangy. Like most Irish people I know, my loaf also had plenty of character….I probably could have kneaded a bit more flour into it to make it a smoother round, but I liked its quirkiness just fine.
Don’t wait until next March to make this….it’s so easy and good that it’s perfect anytime. For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here in somewhat condensed form) or read Carla’s blog Chocolate Moosey, and Cathleen’s blog My Culinary Mission, as they are co-hosting this recipe. Thanks, ladies! Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.
Tags: baking, bread
Here we go…the next round of Tuesdays with Dorie starts today, and this time we’re Baking with Julia! I’ve had this book for years, and have made several things from it, so I’m looking forward to getting to know it better. And also to getting to know a new group of TWDers!
First up, we’re doing Craig Kominiak’s White Loaves. I’m really excited about the bread section of the book, so I was pleased to tackle this one at the get-go. This is your basic sandwich loaf, perfect for PB&J, as you can see above. It wasn’t hard to make. I halved the recipe to do one loaf instead of two, and my mixer had no problem getting the dough together quickly (the full two loaves probably would have made it whine). A couple of rises later, and the dough was ready to become bread! Seriously, the hardest part here was waiting for my loaf to cool so I could get my lunch together (it’s always important to let bread like this cool properly or the texture won’t be right). I loved the crust on this…a nice crispy top. And the bread was so soft inside. I have half the loaf stashed in the freezer, and am looking forward to a turkey and cheese sandwich next.
Homemade yeast bread smells so good in the oven. You won’t get that from a store-bought loaf, so for the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read our founder Laurie’s blog, slush, and our group manager Julie’s blog, Someone’s in the Kitchen, as they are co-hosting the first recipe. Thanks, ladies! Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.
Tags: baking, bread
Bread is definitely my favorite food group. I’m not sure why, then, I skipped Raisin Swirl Bread when Susan picked it for TWD over the summer. Maybe I was away…maybe it was too hot out for bread baking…I can’t remember. Anyway, now is prefect bread baking weather, so I thought I’d give it a try. Also, I wanted to brush up on my yeast skills before we get going on the white loaves from Baking with Julia in a couple of weeks.
This is just a straight-forward dough technique (no sponge or starter) with a couple of proofs. I used my mixer for it, so I didn’t even break a sweat. Scented with a little orange zest and of course a cinnamon-raisin swirl, it smelled really good baking. I was so proud of myself for waiting until the bread had cooled completely before cutting into it. I was even more proud of its perfect texture and beautifully hypnotic swirl. There was a time when I would have skipped the raisins altogether and this would just have been a cinnamon swirl bread, but raisins and I have gradually made peace over the last couple of years. We’re good now…I’m glad I gave them a second chance.
This makes fabulous toast (with a little salty butter, of course)! I could probably have downed the whole loaf that way, but I tried it out as French toast, too. Good stuff. Really, I can’t wait to make this again. For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Food Baby, as it was Susan’s pick from back in June.
P.S.: If you don’t already have it, don’t forget to enter my Baking with Julia BOOK GIVEAWAY!
Tags: baking, bread
When I first saw that we’d be making Golden Brioche Loaves this week, I thought, “Haven’t we made this one already?” Well, yes and no. We’ve made brioche on a few occasions, but always for an end result other than a simple loaf. Jules pointed out that last week, King Arthur wrote a post on brioche made in a 9″x4″ pullman pan. Go figure, I have that same pan at home! Doing a little back-of-the-envelope math, I geusstimated that 2/3 of Dorie’s full recipe would make enough dough to fill one 9″x4″ pullman to the lid. I had to add about 10-15 minutes to Dorie’s baking time, but I had a gorgeous (and golden) square-cornered loaf.
I bet some people find brioche to be intimidating, but to me it’s one of the easier yeast breads to make. The dough is soft and supple, and comes together easily by machine. Also, great brioche bakes up nicely in a home oven, unlike, say, a great baguette, whose perfectly shattering crust seems to elude me at home. And the dough freezes well, so you can have fresh brioche buns in a snap.
This recipe really does produce a delightful loaf. I can’t lie, though…the fact that I made a single loaf of bread that contains two entire sticks of butter is somewhat horrifying to me! Nevertheless, I enjoyed a fat slice with homemade apricot jam (made identically to this plum jam), and, you guessed it, more butter (I have a weakness for fancy French salted butters on my toast and bread).
P.S.: I got a new camera…what do you think?
Tags: baking, bread
Cheese bread! cheesy bread! I went nuts when I saw this recipe was coming up for FFWD. Who the heck wouldn’t want to eat cheesy, onioney (is that a word?) homemade bread? I wanted to eat it so much that I made a whole big loaf, instead of a mini or half-loaf. We had some the day it was baked with homemade tomato soup– so good!– and some went into the freezer, because it will be awesome alongside scrambled eggs for a weekend breakfast.
If you shy away from making bread at home, or fear yeast, or whatever, don’t worry here. This is a quick bread, much like a muffin. In fact, you can even turn the loaf into cheese muffins, if you are so inclined. The original recipe uses chives, but I didn’t have any and used scallions instead. A combo of cheddar and Gruyère was just right, and made this a great, easy, cheesy bread that I’ll bake again and again.