I don’t make a lot of sweet yeasted breads. I don’t know why either… I think it might be because I try to use yeasted breads as a way to balance out all the sweet recipes that I do make. I make 5 recipes a week and they can’t all be sweet ya know, I’d be as big as a house! Plus, if I make regular yeast breads my Husband will help me eat them. If they’re sweet, you can forget about it- just one more thing for me to eat up on my own. One day I will have a multitude of children and they will all eat the things I make : ) One day…
But regardless! I couldn’t help myself this Easter, I was determined to make some Hot Cross Buns. I’ve never had them before and I just love Holiday yeast breads. I very badly wanted to make some stollen over Christmas but couldn’t fit it in : ( So there was no stopping me this Easter- I was going to be pulling it off one way or the other. Luckily I was able to squeeze in some time to do so yesterday. And boy, did they come out lovely. Sweet and subtly spiced. Just delicious. I think I am going to start making them a traditional Easter faire for our family. We’re still a very new and young family so we don’t have many of those yet. Establishing what little traditions we do have has been so much fun for me- the choices I make are going to create the memories of the Holiday’s my kids will look back on. It’s such a wonderful thing to think about! I’m sure many of you know what I’m talking about.
I chose to make The Pioneer Woman‘s Hot Cross Bun Recipe. She mentions how her Mother used to make them every Easter and now she does as well. Although I think she uses her own recipe. And with so many Hot Cross Bun Recipes out there, why did I chose this one? Well, not only because The Pioneer Woman is awesome and has set a great precedent for herself by being so, the recipe itself seemed really interesting and unique. Firstly, it’s a “no-knead” recipe. Then there is the whole all oil, no butter thing- very strange for sweet yeasted breads that don’t have eggs in them like challah. Also she folds in layers of cinnamon sugar and raisins. Kind of like a cross between a cinnamon roll and cinnamon raisin bread. Oh and her icing recipe uses an egg white. All these things seemed so different from the recipes that I was coming across so I thought I would give it a go. Well, it wasn’t until I started shaping the bread into buns that I regretted my choice…
Don’t get me wrong! These were sooo yummy… they were just not attractive. I always forget this, but “no-knead” recipes do not make for good looking yeast breads. Since there is no kneading, there is no real gluten development. This makes it impossible for them to be shaped well. Gluten helps them hold their shape, without that they often turn out flatter then their kneaded counterparts. I assume that’s why she added some baking powder and baking soda- to help with leavening. Well, it didn’t really work that well. They still ended up without much rounded structure and an irregular surface. Here is a recipe for No Knead Sweet Potato Rolls– you can see that they ended up with the same shape from the lack of gluten development. So even though “no-knead” recipes make for an easy bread (if you don’t count how sticky and difficult to shape they are..), I was pretty disappointed when I realized this is the kind of turn my buns were going to take. Hot Cross Bunds are so sweet and cute! I wanted my first batch to fulfill the image I had in my head. Not even close. If you want your buns to look nice for company or maybe just for yourself, you need to find a kneaded recipe.
I did a couple things different with this recipe. Instead of raisins I used currants, simply because I could : ) And I made sure to soften them in some steeping hot water for 5 minutes first. Then when they were fully baked and just removed from the oven I brushed some apricot jam on top to give them a nice shiny glazed look. I wanted to add some orange zest to the cinnamon-sugar mixture, but I didn’t realize my oranges were past their prime until it was too late. I really think that would have been delicious though- adding a nice citrus note.
Side Note- I forgot to mention. My Kitchen Aid mixer broke last week (I know! I cried…) And I haven’t been able to replace it. They are expensive to buy off the economy here in Germany and the military PX doesn’t usually sell them. In three weeks I am going back to the States and will be living with my Sister-in-Law for 10 months. She has one. So I am putting off how I am going to get one to Germany until then (crazy amounts of $ in shipping…). My point is I have been working with just a cheap-o hand mixer and my own hands lately, so I would have had to knead these myself had a chosen such a recipe. Not something I am in to. In the end I can’t really complain much about the way they looked since I didn’t have to do any work.
NOW I don’t want you all to get the wrong impression with my thoughts on this recipe. I truly thought they were delicious and I think The Pioneer Woman did a great job engineering them. I just have a vendetta against “no-knead” recipes. I am kind of a control freak in the kitchen and have anxiety when things don’t look nice or come out the way they are supposed to. BUT! They were so good that I ended up eating three fat buns as soon as I was done photographing them. And my daughter tackled an entire one on her own too. So really, really- these were fantastic. Head on over to her site to see some great “how-to” photos!
- For the Buns:
- 2 cups whole milk
- ½ cup canola oil
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 package (2¼ Teaspoons) active dry yeast
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (additional) flour
- ½ teaspoon (heaping) baking powder
- ½ teaspoon (scant) baking soda
- 2 teaspoons salt
- For the Filling:
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ cup raisins or currants
- For the Glaze:
- 1 whole egg white
- splash of milk
- For the Icing:
- 1 whole egg white
- powdered sugar
- splash of milk
- For the BUNS: Heat 2 cups milk to 105-110 degrees F. Add to large bowl with ½ cup sugar and yeast. Allow to actuate for about 10 minutes, letting the yeast dissolve and become frothy and bubbly.
- Add oil and 4 cups of flour and stir to combine. Mixture will be very sticky. Cover with a towel and set aside for 1 hour.
- Add ½ cup flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir untill combined.
- In small bowl, combine ¼ cup sugar with cinnamon.
- Lightly flour surface. Press to slightly flatten dough. Sprinkle a couple tablespoons of the sugar/cinnamon mixture. Sprinkle on about a third of the raisins. Then fold the dough over on itself and flatten again so the dough is "plain" again. Repeat the sugar/raisin process, then fold the dough again. Repeat a third time until all the raisins are used. (You won't use all the sugar/cinnamon mixture.)
- Pinch off golf ball-size bunches of dough. With floured hands, quickly roll it into a ball, then turn the edges under themselves slightly. Place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Cover and allow to rise in a warm place for at least an hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
- For the GLAZE: Mix 1 egg white with a splash of milk. Brush onto each roll. Bake for 20 minutes or until tops of buns have turned nice and golden brown. Remove from pan and allow to cool on a wire rack.
- For the ICING:
- Mix 1 egg white with enough powdered sugar for icing to be very thick. Splash in milk as needed for consistency. Add icing to a small Ziploc bag and snip the corner. Make icing crosses on each roll, making sure they're completely cooled first.
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman