Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cold weather and Orange and Apricot Hot Cross Buns

This winter everyone was expecting another big freeze. I was completely prepared; new hiking boots with not one but two pairs of shoe spikes, all weather tires, waterproof trousers, ski jacket and all the accessories of anti-freeze, scrappers, gloves and scarves. And what happens? It's a hot December, 20 degrees warmer than the year before. So warm in fact that it really didn't feel like Christmas when the 25th finally arrived. However now that it's spring the cold weather has come and what better weekend for snow than when I have flown over to England with nothing but a pair of converse all stars and only enough outfits for a few days. On the up side the snowy weather makes Cambridge look even better than normal.


Cold weather like this always inspires me to bake and this week in the spirit of the forthcoming lent and Easter season I decided to make Hot Crossed Buns, with a little twist of course.

Nothing beats the cold better than a hot cup of coffee and a bun!   
Orange and Apricot Hot Crossed Buns (makes 14)

1 x 7g packet of dried yeast
200ml warm milk
1 tsp Honey
500g Strong flour/Cream flour
1 tsp salt
50g Brown Sugar
2 eggs
50g melted butter
50g Candied orange peel
75g dried apricot

Warm the milk until it is luke warm and then put it in a bowl with the dried yeast and the honey. Mix thoroughly and then leave to stand for 10 minutes.
Sieve together the flour, salt and brown sugar. Melt the butter and beat the eggs into the butter. Once the yeast and milk mixture has formed a frothy top slowly mix in half of the flour. Add the rest of the flour in small sections alternated between small amounts of the egg and butter mixture. Do not add all the flour if the mixture appears to be too dry. Finally flour the fruit and add it to your dough.

Knead your dough, adding small amounts of flour when necessary, until it becomes elastic to the touch and does not stick to the surface or your hands. Place your kneaded dough into a lightly greased bowl and turn it once to get grease on all sides of the dough ball. Cover the bowl with a clean, damp dish-cloth or with cling-film and allow it to proof for 1-2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.

Once the dough has doubled in size remove it from the bowl and knead it again until it has lost some of it's volume. Form 14/15 even balls of dough and place them on the baking tray. Cover with the cloth/cling-film again and allow to proof for a further 45minutes/1 hour. Preheat your oven to 210 degrees celcius/400 degrees farenheit/Gas mark 6, your oven needs to be well preheated for bread baking. To make the cross form a dough from flour and water ( I also add a spoon of sugar) and roll it into thin strips to be placed on the buns just before they go into the oven. Brush the buns with an egg glaze.

Bake the buns for 15-20mins or until they are browned all over and sound hollow when tapped underneath.

While the buns are cooling brush them with a marmalade or apricot jam glaze. the glaze can be made by heating 2 tbs of the jam or marmalade with a tsp of water in the microwave. Then let the buns cool and finally enjoy them.
Someone asked me yesterday why I would bake when it was cheaper and faster to just buy things from the store. It is actually a fair question in this case considering HCBs are everywhere and but honestly the answer is simple; the pleasure of making something from scratch that turns into a delicious and beautiful treat is far more rewarding than any cheap sugar high I could ever buy.

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