Thursday, March 25, 2010

Hot Cross... Buns?

It's about time we take old fashioned Hot Cross Buns and gave them a modern touch. Who's with me on this one? With Easter celebrations just around the corner, I have put a little thought into Easter Morning breakfast. This year I finally added super cute pastel coloured egg cups to my dinnerware collection, and am hoping for a bright, sunny morning on April 4th, 2010. But what is Easter breakfast? I have never, ever spent a minute of my life thinking about it... for some reason or another it just didn't hold any value. But now I picture children and adults gathered around a big table, (which may even flaunt a table cloth - something new to me and my woes of ironing!), I imagine it to have a tight gingham pattern, and a pot with tulips right in the center. We'd munch on Hot Cross monkey'fied Bread, drink freshly squeezed juice along side strong, black coffee and enjoy a feast of Potato Pancakes topped with Smoked Salmon, Poached Eggs and fresh Chives. Perhaps Broiled Grapefruit on the side? Now doesn't that sound like a bright and sunny way to say good-bye to old man Winter and hello to the warm seasons, on top of what Easter really is about, of course - a hope for our future, and a guarantee of Eternal Life!

I came up with this recipe after reading many original recipes. They were all similar, and yet had some interesting differences. I have decided to only use Raisins in my version - as I am not sure there are many candied fruit lovers left on the planet. (But I would love to hear from you if you are!) The assembly for this bread is derived from Monkey Bread, which has been around forever as well, I am sure, but the excitement of pulling off a chunk of warm Bread with sticky drizzle still holds true to today's modern culinary world, I think!

If you don't have an angel food cake pan, a Bundt pan will do.

Hot Cross Monkey'fied Bread
Serves plenty

3 tsp active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1 cup warm milk
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
1 1/2 tsp real vanilla extract
5 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
a pinch or two of ground cloves - feel free to add more of each of these, as you prefer!
3/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup icing sugar
2 -3 tsp milk

To make your dough, add the yeast to the warm water and allow to dissolve and froth up, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine the flour, sugar, salt and spices. When the yeast has dissolved, add to the flour along with the milk, butter, eggs and vanilla. Mix in the bowl (with your hands!) for about 2 - 3 minutes. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 - 7 minutes. The dough should be quite soft, but if it's overly sticky, add another 1/2 cup of flour during the first couple minutes of kneading only.
Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a lint free towel, and set in a warm draft free place for 1 hour. (I like to preheat my oven for 30 Seconds, then turn it off, and place the bowl in the oven with the door shut.)
After the first rise, turn out the dough onto your work surface, dump the raisins on it and knead them into the dough very gently and only for a few seconds. Divide the dough in half, and roll into 40cm logs. Cut these into 3 - 5cm pieces, which you then gently roll into balls.
Grease an angel food cake pan with butter. Set out a bowl with the melted 1/4 cup butter and another with the 3/4 cup brown sugar. Dip each roll of dough in the butter (dip, don't soak or you will run out of butter!) to cover, then dip in the brown sugar. Place it in the prepared baking pan. Repeat until all the dough is used up. Make sure the balls are placed evenly in the pan.
Cover again with a lint free towel and allow to double in bulk, about 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Bake the Hot Cross Bread for 40 minutes. If your angel food cake pan is a two piece model, like mine, you will want to set it on a rimmed cookie sheet otherwise there will be a burnt puddle of butter and sugar on the bottom of your oven!
When baked, place the bread in the baking pan on a cooling rack for 10 minutes.
Remove the bread from the pan, but do not turn upside down.
Whisk together the icing sugar and milk, and drizzle over warm bread.


No comments: