Friday, April 2, 2010

Day 131 - Good Friday Hot Cross Buns

Made my Hot Cross Buns today!  They turned out marvelously!  They rose beautifully and the crumb was near perfect.  Dang - why can't I do that in August?  Well, temperature and humidity have something to do with it but the rest boils down to me.  I did combine my new found recipe with my grandma's recipe and I think that helped too!  I like to take old recipes and make them more updated.

Some helpful methods I use include:
Pre-soak the currents/dried fruits  - my husband laughs; neither one of us drinks but we keep a bottle of rum in the basement that makes it to the kitchen two times a year: Christmas and Easter.  Why?  To soak dried fruit!  At Christmas it soaks the fruit for the Stollen and at Easter it soaks the fruit for the hot cross buns.  You can also use apple juice but ever since I stayed with my German host family and helped with baking there nothing else suffices.

Use fresh eggs when you can!  I use my own free range chicken eggs -- my little hens are laying close to a dozen eggs a day!  People who think there is no difference between store bought and farm fresh - well, I guess we all have our own opinions.  All I can say is they are leagues apart!  You have never seen a truly yellow yolk until you've cracked open a farm fresh, free range egg.  This also adds a beautiful yellow color to your yeast breads and rolls.  Freshness is a good rule of thumb for all ingredients - the quality and freshness of an ingredient will make a difference.

Keep a can of butter flavored spray on hand -- use this to grease the pans, the counter top and plastic wrap (to cover the rolls).  When working with a very sticky dough (like this one and many other sweet roll doughs) keep a stick of butter flavored shortening on hand.  Grease your hands with this to make rolling the buns easier - keep greasing as needed.  The reason for both of these is to avoid adding additional flour.  NEVER add additional flour after the initial rise (unless your recipe for some reason calls for it).

Weigh the rolls for uniformity.  Use a food scale lined with wax paper.  Weigh the entire piece of dough (this works better in a bowl) and then calculate based on how many rolls you want to make.  Use a dough blade and cut your pieces and weigh each one on the scale  (the wax paper makes it easy to pick up).  This will help keep rolls nice and even.  Not sure about the calculations -- most of my recipes end up between 2 - 3.5 oz (depending on size and number).

If you have a seedling grow mat these work well to put the pans on for the 2nd rise.  It provides a nice even heat underneath.  Just watch out - if the kitchen is too warm you don't need it and will actually cause the yeast to work too quickly.  But when baking in winter or weather/temps below 70 degrees it is a good method!

Blessed Good Friday and happy baking!

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