It was a sunny day outside, and it is nearly Easter. In the UK, this means hot cross buns are everywhere and in mind boggling varieties (chocolate hot cross buns anyone??).
True, in the UK you can get most of these any time of the year now. However, for me growing up in Nova Scotia, hot cross buns were only sold in shops in the lead up to Easter. They were only bought as a treat. Having this mentality ingrained in me, means I only ever eat them around now.
Last year I attempted my first batch of homemade hot cross buns, with some success. Although I managed to bungle the cross bit. This year I have tweaked my recipe to have my recipe for Earl Grey & Orange hot cross buns.
To start, I take a simple package of raisins and sultanas (with some mixed peel) and soak it in a small bowl of hot water (about ½ cup) and two bags of earl grey tea. Really this needs to soak for at least an hour or two.
Next, I boil some milk on the stove, which will help change the chemistry of the milk. When it is finished I toss in the butter and let the whole mixture cool. The cooled milk/butter gets mixed in with the flour, salt, sugar and an egg. The whole combination is kneaded, and frankly fairly wet for a dough. Stick this in an oiled bowl and let rise for an hour in a warm place.
Once the dough has risen it is time to fold in the cinnamon, orange peel and earl grey fruit. The dough will deflate a bit, but it is crucial to get a fairly even distribution of fruit and spice. After another rise (1 hour again), it gets divided into 16 pieces and a final rise.
In previous attempts I messed up the cross on the top. Essentially, it is a combination of flour and water. A little research online said it should be mixed until thick. Except I did this last time, and it didn’t really work. Instead I made it a bit more syrupy, and it worked like a charm.
After a short bake they are brushed with warm apricot jam, and ready to be gorged on. True to form, and perhaps the result of a year long abstention from the lovely goods, we’re already devoured after a bit of toasting and slavering of butter. The Earl Grey & Orange hot cross buns have a warming mix of bergamot, orange and cinnamon, and are moreish morning treat. Yes, they look a bit rough, but as with every Easter I’m know they won’t make it past 9am tomorrow!