1st April 2012
With Easter fast approaching, I had thought I would bake these nearer the time, but looking at the busy week I have ahead I thought it would be better to bake them today and freeze them, that way they would definitely get done for Good Friday. This would also mean I could enter the @weeklybakeoff on Twitter again.
After the last two recipes having missing ingredients and a quick visit to the local corner shop, I decided this time to get all the ingredients out prior to starting to bake, just like we used to do when we were at school.
The only panic I had was over the yeast. I knew I had some yeast in the cupboard, but it wasn’t where it should have been. My cupboards are becoming so full nowadays with baking goodies, that everything seems to be on top of each other. Eventually I found it underneath the icing and chocolate.
Mary did say to firstly lightly grease two baking trays. Reading through the recipe I realised that I wouldn’t actually need the baking trays for at least a good two hours, so I skipped that part as they would only be in the way.
For this I got my big mixing bowl out, I didn’t want the dough to rise over the sides of the bowl. Into the bowl went the strong white flour, salt (I always think there’s too much salt in bread recipes, this one needed 1tsp, that’s an awful lot of salt when you look at it), mixed spices, cinnamon, grated nutmeg, yeast and caster sugar. This was given a quick stir to mix it all together.
Next you had to pour in the melted, cooled butter – whoops I hadn’t actually got round to melting it yet, so into the microwave it went on a very low setting to gradually melt. This was put to one side whilst I measured the milk out and heated this very slightly, together with some water. Into another bowl one egg was beaten and in yet another bowl I measured out the currants and chopped candied peel. There was going to be a lot of washing up to do!
By this time the butter had cooled down so a well was made in the middle of the dry mixture and the butter, milk, water and egg were added, together with the currants and mixed peel. These were mixed together to form a dough. It seemed a very sticky dough to me, perhaps I shouldn’t have added all the water stated!
The dough was turned out onto a floured board and the timer set for 10 minutes of kneading. This would give my arms a workout. More flour was needed as the dough did seem very sticky, but eventually it started coming together and looked nice and smooth. Quickly I washed up the original mixing bowl and lightly oiled it with some olive oil and placed the dough into it. This was covered with cling film and left in a warm place for one and a half hours. It actually remained there for two hours as the boys came back from rugby which signalled lunch time so the dough had to wait!
After lunch the dough had more than doubled in size, so it was turned out onto a floured board and kneaded again for two minutes. Next the mixture had to be divided into twelve equal parts. I think baking is becoming an obsession now as I took down my kitchen scales and weighed the dough and divided the weight by twelve. Each twelfth was then put on the scale one by one to ensure they were all the same size!
It was at this point I lightly greased two baking trays and on each tray I placed six buns. Each bun was marked on the top with a cross by a sharp knife. These were covered with oiled clingfilm and left on top of the oven (which was preheating) to rise again – until doubled in size. In all this took another 45 minutes.
Whilst the buns were rising I made a small amount of shortcrust pasty. This was rolled out thinly and cut into strips – these were to be the crosses on the top of the buns. The pastry was put onto the buns and they were put in the oven for 15 minutes.
Whilst the buns were baking there was one more step to do, you had to make a sugary syrup to brush over the top of the buns once they came out of the oven. So into a bowl went 2tbsp of granulated sugar and 2tbsp of water. This was gently warmed until the sugar had dissolved.
After 15 minutes the buns were lovely and brown (a few a bit too brown!) and HUGE, so they were removed from the oven, their bottoms were tapped to see if they sounded hollow – they did, so they were cooked! I quickly brushed the sugar syrup over the top of them which gave them all a nice sticky glaze.
They tasted lovely, but I must admit I’m not sure I would go to that trouble every time, but if I did I think I would make them into 24 hot cross buns, as I must admit I do like and buy the packets of small hot cross buns from M&S usually!