Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Kitten with a Whisk: Hot Cross Buns

Kitten with a Whisk: Hot Cross Buns

Loathe as I am to admit it, Texans cannot make hot cross buns. They just can't. I suppose it keeps them humble, which is a difficult enough task when you have the good fortune to live in Texas. Thankfully --and may the Lord strike me down if I ever say this again-- I was not born in Texas, and as such can make a hot cross bun that makes the desert bloom and the angels weep. Actually, I suspect the only reason my grandfather even pretends to celebrate Easter is he knows I won't bake hot cross buns any other time of the year. I started making this years buns at midnight. It's now 4:30 a.m. and, Lord willin' an' the creek don't rise, I'll be done by dawn.

Step One: Ingredients
1 cup warm milk
2 packages (5 teaspoons) active dry yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
4 cups flour
2 tsp. ground allspice
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 sticks butter
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1 cup mixed dried tropical fruit
1/2 cup orange flavored dried cranberries
1 Tb orange/grapefruit zest
1 good glug bourbon
1 good glug orange juice
powdered sugar


Mix the fruit, hooch and juice in a pyrex bowl and microwave it until the bowl gets steamy. Stir and set aside. Have glass of bourbon. Why not?

Soak fruit 10 minutes; pour off liquid into a bowl.

In a small bowl mix the milk and sugar and sprinkle in the yeast. Cover and let sit until the room smells like beer and the bowl's all seething with yeasty goodness. About 5 minutes.

Next, mix the dry ingredients together, except for the powdered sugar. Resist the urge to have a Scarface moment. By the way, check out that groovy bowl. It's my grandmothers. She's had that darn thing for about 30 years and it's the single finest bread-making bowl I've ever used. I've got a swell Kitchenaid mixer, but for yeast breads, the Thailand bowl (don't know why I call it that, I think it's actually Swedish) is the only one I use.

Mix in the butter with your fingers until it feels like coarse meal. y'all know how to do this.

Do I need to tell you not to use a food processor?

So make a little well sort of thing out of the flour and butter, then add ONE beaten egg and the egg yolk. Dump in the long-legged yeasties, the fruit (which is drained remember) and commence to stir with a wooden spoon.

See the bowl half hidden to the left of the big bowl? That's the hooch/juice bowl. Don't drink it.


Dump the contents of the bowl onto a well- floured counter. Knead.

and knead.

and knead some more. 5 Ramones songs or 10 minutes, whichever comes first.

Eventually it's going to get all sexy and smooth and elastic. That's what you want. Think Marvin Gaye, except for alive and well...doughy. -->

put dough in well-oiled bowl, turn to coat and cover loosely in plastic wrap. Top with damp cloth (not the one your great grandmother embroidered though because you'll accidentally scorch it and be really screwed...whoops) and place in an oven that had been set to 200 and turned off. The little bowl you see in the bottom is full of water. It's all about the humidity.

Since it IS all about the humidity, be sure to put your hair back with a snazzy silk scarf which matches nothing and makes your skin look green. Like this.

Alluring, no?

So you've got about an hour and a half to wait while your bun also rises. So why not make yourself a tasty and nutritous snack?

Unfortunately, your grandparents don't have tasty or nutritous food, so you improvise and come up with something like this "Sparking Citrus Surprise" also known as "Grapefruit in a Bowl with Diet 7Up"


in a bowl.

with diet 7Up.


So now an hour and a half has passed and your lovely dough has risen and looks all plump and round and sexy. So take it out of the oven and punch the dough down. This is by far my favorite part because you get to beat things up and people thank you for it. Between the kneading and the punching a gal could work out a lot of unresolved aggression baking bread.



Just look at that and tell me that doesn't look satisfying. Anyway, give the dough another quick knead and divide it into 24 equal-sized buns. Place 'em about an inch apart on a greased baking sheet, cover said baking sheet with plastic wrap and pop the whole mess back into the still warm but definitely turned-off oven. Let it rise about 45 minutes until doubled in size.

While you're waiting for the coming in glory of your almost-finished HCB, whisk the remaining egg (aha, thought I forgot about it, didn't you) and add a pinch of sugar. This is your egg glaze. You can use whatever glaze you want, egg, cream, milk...I don't care but I like to use the egg with a pinch of sugar because it gets all shiny and golden brown.

oooh, shiny.

Once you're done with the egg glaze, pour about two tablespoons of that fruit soaking hooch liquid into a zipper bag. Then add enough powdered sugar to make a thick paste. This is your cross icing.

Once the buns have doubled in bulk, take them out of the oven and preheat that bad boy to 400 degrees. Glaze the buns and pop 'em right back in for 12 minutes or until they're golden brown. Put onto rack to cool completely. Unless, of course, you just can't control yourself:

Not that I know anyone who would do that:

cool completely, top with a frosting cross and a dried cranberry.

TA DA!!!


Anonymous Carol said...

My beloved spouse Glen shared your clever & profound postings; now I understand your appeal. I, too, have struggled with faith, religion, God, THE CALL. A sense of humor is de rigueur for clergy; you have it in spades. Life is tough. We laugh or we're doomed. To me, that's hell. Joy, love, community -- that's life!

By the way, I -- a native Texan -- can make Hot Cross Buns, but I don't do it very often. Frankly, your recipe looks better than mine!

Since we were kicked out of church choir for missing too many rehearsals due to our daughters' swim team schedule, this will be our first Easter sitting in the congregation. We'll get back to you on how we feel about THE SHOW, if we are not part of it!

5:37 PM  
Anonymous Glen said...

Considering the time of year and the Passover/Easter intermix, pr’aps a blessing or two from our Abrahamic roots would be in order —

Baruch atah Adonai Elohenu melech ha'olam, boray p'ri hagafen.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who creates the fruit of the vine.

Baruch atah Adonai Elohenu melech ha'olam, hamotzi lechem min ha'aretz.
Blessed are you, O Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.

If not bang-on perfect for hooch and hot cross buns, I suspect Jehovah will still catch our drift.

5:41 PM  
Anonymous Connie said...

You are just way too cool. Loved it! But I'm afraid I don't have enough aggression to make the hot cross buns. Too happy this year!

12:38 AM  
Anonymous Connie said...

You are just way too cool. Loved it! But I'm afraid I don't have enough aggression to make the hot cross buns. Too happy this year!

12:38 AM  
Blogger AnthroPax said...

Did you get 'The Vicar of Dibley' over on your side of the pond?
If you didn't, have a look out for it - 'tis fantastic

3:15 PM  
Anonymous glen said...

Re: antropax's "The Vicker of Dibley" inquiry

For them as don't know "VoD" is a BBC classic comedy revolving around a british vicker (about whom the odor of sanctity is but rarely smelt) and her complex relationships with her flock.
I have been waiting for someone to bring this up.

Having neen both a "fan" of the show and the aspirant whose diary this is ... there is a significant difference between the two.

The show, while funny and uplifting, is just a work of fiction.

Rhiannon, while funny and uplifting, is the very real deal. Such people are a gift.

10:55 AM  

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