27 May, 2011

A million ways to fail at making Hot Cross Buns

OK, maybe not really a million, but after the last time when I ended up with little baked dough balls I realized I needed some bread practice. The last time I made bread was in Foods class in high school. While I was tempted to scrap the recipe in favor of another posted by a friend, I was also determined not to let a recipe beat me! If you need proof of my determination in that area, you can ask my husband how many "crepes" our cats got to eat before anything resembling an actual crepe came out of the pan. (By the way, here is the crepe recipe that finally worked for me. No, you do not need the $200 crepe pan, nor do you need the special little crepe spreader! You do, however, need a flat bottomed pan. The one I was using was not).

And now, without further ado, on to the Hot Cross Buns (original recipe used for this post can be found by clicking on the underlined title).

First off; the original recipe says: Make sure you are using proper bread flour – plain flour just won’t work. She's NOT kidding! The first time I tried this, I used all-purpose flour. Hence the dough-balls! 

Measure 400g. of flour (just short of 3 cups. If I had sifted it probably would be 3 cups but I do not own a sifter. Sorry Grandma and Mrs. Hilton).

Rub in (mix with your fingers until you can't tell what's butter anymore) 50g. (4 Tbsp.) butter.

Mix in 1/2 teaspoon of each of the following spices: cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and allspice. Add  pinch of ground cloves. 

This is my favorite spice ever! Smells like Christmas!

Add to the mix 75g. sugar (3/4 cup)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of yeast
Mix together.

In a separate bowl combine 150ml. of milk (2/3 cup) I chose to heat my milk in the microwave for a few seconds so it was just above room temperature since I had such a problem with my dough not rising last time.

Add 1 egg to the milk and whisk together. Add the milk/egg mixture to the dry ingredients and combine. 

Ah yes, this looks soooooo much better than last time!

Now you will want to add your fruit. The recipe calls for 50g. of candied peel but since I could not find candied peel and making it requires a rather lengthy process of soaking orange peels in salt water and then simmering them in a sugar solution for several hours (which, frankly, I did not find a-peel-ing *sorry*) I'm skipping the peel. 100g. of sultanas and currants (as much of each as you like, I made them equal portions) By the way, sultanas are golden raisins and currants really can by found at the local version of Kroger. Yes really.

At this point you will want to make sure that any barker friends you have are not loitering around your feet waiting for you to drop something because grapes in any form are poisonous to barkers.

Mix in your fruit (I added dried cherries last time and that was tasty)

Now you get to wait for an hour while your dough rises. *Crossing your fingers and saying a prayer sure can't hurt this process! OK, time for coffee!

Back to the dough!

Does this look doubled in size? hmmmm OK, divide your dough into 12 equal portion and put them on a well greased baking sheet.

And now we get to wait for yet another hour! At this point I'm realizing why it is that I don't "do" bread. I have no patience and I feel the need to stand over it and watch it to see if it's getting bigger or not. I'm surprised I wasn't over there with a ruler measuring little dough balls every five minutes. ...... now that I think of it, that's not a bad idea for next time! OK, time for coffee..... oh wait. I did that already. Fine. Laundry it is.

Oh dear! With only 15 minutes left to rise, I have given up and taken the little dough balls out back to the woodshed for punishment!..... I mean I put them in the sun on the sidewalk to see if the that would coerce them into rising just a little.

Nope, that didn't work. With more than an hour gone by and the oven now heated to 420, in they go for 15 minutes. Good luck dough balls!

And so, after all that waiting, here is the finished product:

Hahahaha! It's official, this recipe hates me! Oh well, even though they didn't rise like they were supposed to, they still take great. I'll soak them in coffee and they'll be just fine. 

Time to go make supper. In a pan. On the stove. I can actually do that! 

p.s. - If anyone else would like to try this recipe, let me know if it works for you or if it's just me!


  1. Yay! Another blogging buddy! :)
    I'd like to have a moment of silence for your non-rising buns. {crickets chirping}
    They were hot, they were cross, but alas they were not buns.....RIP.

  2. Haha! Thanks T. They won't rest in peace though, they WILL be eaten. :)

  3. Hi Stephanie - LOVED your post. So cool to see all the steps. So many of those moments, I also experienced them! Took about three attempts and different recipes to get them right. I understand what you mean when you say you're don't "do" bread - in fact, these days I just throw everything in a bread machine and let the gadget take the strain.

    If you didn't get them to puff up, just present them as what we call "rock buns" in the UK. Your guests will swoon at these exotic little treats :)

    Keep on cookin'!

    LondonEats (mr!)

  4. PS - how was the yeast? Rather than instant, you can try using dried yeast, and activate it first by soaking in the milk with some sugar. If it starts to get frothy, then you know it's good. If there is no "action" then you know you've got a dud batch. Just a thought.

  5. Rock buns! That's perfect, and exactly how they turned out! The great thing is, they still taste fantastic. I love all the spices. Thanks for the yeast idea, I think I'll try that next time.