BRANDIED HOT CROSS BUN LOAFThursday, March 24, 2016
What do you call a hot cross bun when it goes cold?
I will start this post by saying I am not trying to push religion here, just good food, I promise. Hot cross buns appear in supermarkets in the UK long before and after Easter has passed and I guess that many people don't even know the religious significance of these heavenly scented baked breads. In our house we do not make these out of religious belief, but simply because it's not Easter without them and they are finger sticky delicious.
I decided that this year, out of the pure spirit of experimentation that I would forgo the usual small bun shape and go large with a whole loaf instead. This is also because it is easier to toast a slice than it is a bun and the sticky topping wont go near the hot elements of the toaster too. I have memories or nearly setting fire to the kitchen as the toaster billowed smoke toasting sticky topped hot cross buns!
- 425g all-purpose flour
- 50g butter, cut into small pieces
- 8g fast-action yeast
- 1 ½ tsp mixed spice/pumpkin pie spice
- 50g soft brown sugar
- 100g raisins
- 100g sultanas
- 25g mixed candied peel
- 125ml milk
- 50ml Brandy
For the dough cross & glaze
- 1tbsp milk
- 1tbsp plain flour
- 1tbsp water
- golden syrup
- Place the dried fruit and mixed peel in a bowl and pour over the Brandy. Heat in the microwave for 1 minute on high. Stir the fruit and place a bowl over the bowl and allow to cool.
This step may seem a little crazy but it brings the fruit back to plump life. The fruit soaks up the hot Brandy and it stops them from becoming dried and bitter when the loaf is cooked.
- Place the flour and butter in a large mixing bowl. Rub butter into flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in the yeast, then add all the remaining ingredients except the milk.
- Pour the milk into a jug and add 125ml boiling water. Test the temperature of the milk and water mixture — it should be no more than hand hot.
- Place everything into the bowl of your mixer (or knead by hand on a floured surface) and using the dough hook, mix until a floured finger pressed into the dough springs back. Usually its about 6 minutes with a mixer and about 10 minutes by hand.
- Shape the dough into a circle and place on an oiled baking sheet. Cover with a cloth and leave in a warm place, for about 1-1½ hours until it doubles in size and feels very light and airy.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/ 390 F. When ready to bake, brush the top of the risen dough with the milk.
- To make the cross pattern, mix the flour and water to make a soft but pipeable paste. Pour the mixture into a disposable piping bag, snip the end and pipe a cross over the dough- you can go traditional single cross or go a bit free range, like I did!
- Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until golden brown. Turn loaf over and tap its base — if it sounds hollow it is cooked.
- Splodge a generous dollop of golden syrup on the top and use a brush to glaze the top of the loaf. It's not a hot cross bun unless your fingers get sticky when you eat it!
- Leave to cool on a wire rack. Best eaten on the day it is made. Flipping delicious toasted the day after and smeared with a generous coating of butter.