Sunday, April 4, 2010

Day 29: Hot Cross Pumpkin Buns

Hot cross buns.

Have you ever wondered why they're so mad? What's got them so grumpy on Easter morn? Is it the empty tomb? The rude gardener? The darn Disciples that won't listen?

Maybe it's more secular than that. Maybe they just didn't get the kind of Easter basket at the end of their bed, that they expected. That's understandable. Buns have high expectations these days.

Regardless, I always sort of picture Hot Cross Buns looking like this:

Only maybe less cute, and a little more sinister.

Anyway, I took a pretty basic Hot Cross Bun recipe and added some pumpkin. We're not huge fans of cooked raisins around here, so I used dried cranberries where raisins would usually go. Maybe that's what made them so cross.

Geeze. Get over it, buns.

Here's what you'll need:
1 cup warm milk (105°--115°F.)
5 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
4 cups bread flour
1 teaspoons ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks cold,unsalted butter
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup dried cranberries, raisins, currants, or cherries (it's a "choose you're own adventure!" but then, so is most of what I cook)
3 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 lb. powdered sugar

In a small bowl stir together milk, yeast, and 1 teaspoon granulated sugar. Let mixture stand 5 minutes (it'll foam and seethe and throw a fit so you'll know when it's done).

In a large bowl sift together flour, allspice, cinnamon, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar. Cut butter into bits and with your fingertips or a pastry blender blend into flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse meal. Lightly beat 1 whole egg with egg yolk. Make a well in center of flour mixture and pour in yeast and egg mixtures, pumpkin, and dried fruit. Stir mixture until a dough is formed. If it gives you any attitude... as is the tendency of a cross bun... just keep stirin'. That bun'll get the message. Transfer dough to a floured surface and with floured hands knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Transfer dough to an oiled large bowl and turn to coat. Let dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2 hours.

Preheat your oven to 375*. Butter 2 large baking sheets or muffin pans.

On a floured surface with floured hands knead dough briefly and form into two 12-inch-long logs. Cut each log crosswise into 12 equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and arrange about 1 1/2 inches apart on baking sheets. Let buns rise, covered, in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Using kitchen shears, or scissors, snip a cross in the center of each roll. This is where you'll add the icing after the buns are baked.

While buns are rising, lightly beat remaining egg with superfine sugar to make an egg glaze. Brush buns with egg glaze and sprinkle with the superfine sugar. Bake buns until golden, about 12-15 minutes.

To make the icing: using a mixer, beat the butter until light and fluffy, and then add the powdered sugar. Add enough milk to make a thick icing. Flavor with a good quality vanilla.

With all the work you just put into making those buns, you'd think they might be a little more gracious.

Turns out, I'm not a huge Hot Cross Bun fan... all that negativity gets to me. And these take loads of effort... and if you read my last post, you'll know, I'm not so much into the "effort" these days. So I give these a C.

Heaven help us all... that won't help the attitude.

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