Hot Cross Bun Cinna-Swirl Loaf

Hot Cross Bun Cinna-Swirl Loaf2

Easter Sunday’s in a couple of days. When I was growing up, it was a huge to-do. Me and my sisters all got brand spanking new dresses (most of which were pretty ugly because, 90’s kids fashion) and shoes. I had a great mom who usually made sure we also got Easter gift baskets to wake up to. We’d go to church, where the services were specially centered around the Resurrection.  Then it was back to my grandparents’, or a restaurant where there was a nice brunch or dinner that would give us all food comas for the rest of the day and evening.

Nowadays, things are much… quieter. But if there’s still something I do try to keep going for myself at Easter, it’s good food. That, you never grow out of.

Making Easter bread is something that’s become somewhat of a yearly tradition for me. I do it because there are quite a lot of different types from various cultures and places to try. I do it test and improve my bread making skills. I do it because most of them are really yummy and not too difficult to pull off. I do it because I like it.

I’ve mentioned before that I’ve always had a ‘thing’ for hot cross buns ever since I was a kid and heard about them for the first time in a British nursery rhyme. They just looked yummy in the picture and for years, I always wondered what one would taste like. I recently read a comment on another food blog that called them the first and earliest ‘food fad’, which I thought was funny.

It was two years ago I think, when I took my first shot at making Hot Cross Buns for myself. Mine had a slight twist on the original with the addition of chamomile tea to the dough, which gave them a delicious flavor. I decided then and there that it wouldn’t be the last of my hot cross bun baking. This HAD to happen again.

I briefly considered just making plain Hot Cross Buns, but then I noticed a recipe on Williams-Sonoma’s blog that looked very intriguing; Hot Cross Buns translated into a a single loaf of bread.

I don’t know what it is about me, but I have trouble sticking to the ‘script’ of a recipe if I feel comfortable with it. I just can’t leave well enough alone. The original recipe just called for a single rectangle of dough to be rolled up then placed in the loaf pan and baked off to form one swirl.

Yeah, I know. I didn’t do that.

Look guys, I know it looks complicated, but it isn’t. Really.

I started with the one cylinder, then randomly took my bench scraper and split it in half. I then used it to split THOSE halves in half. Then, I just arranged the individual cylinders side by side in the loaf pan with the cut side facing the pan. That’s it. You let the loaves rise and get puffy, then bake them off where they actually rise and get even MORE puffy. Then by the time they’re done and cooled off, BAM. You’ve got a loaf of bread that not only smells amazing, it’ll have everyone you share it with scratching their heads wondering how the heck you pulled this off.

(Which never fails to be great feeling by the way.)

Now, let’s get down to taste. I added a cup of whole wheat flour to the dough, which gives it that hearty, nutty flavor that I personally love. Cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg give it an ‘umph’ of warm comforting spice that will make your kitchen smell like a bakery. The sweetness of the dough’s cinnamon brown sugar filling is also very well balanced from the tartness of the cherries and/or currants and the orange zest. You don’t have to add the icing, but come on: why WOULDN’T you add it? Icing is one of life’s pleasures and don’t you try and say it’s not; no one believes you.

There are so many ways you could eat & enjoy this bread. Plain and all on it’s own. Toasted & smeared with butter & jam. Sliced very thick and used for FRENCH FRIGGIN TOAST. You could even use the leftovers (should there even be any because, I mean, come ON)  as the base for a delicious bread pudding.

Quite simply guys, this bread hits allllll the right spots. Find out which one is yours, asap.

Happy Easter, Resurrection Sunday, Passover & Fiesta Friday #167.

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Hot Cross Bun Cinna-Swirl Loaf

Recipe Adapted from Williams-Sonoma

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Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup dried cherries or currants
  • 1 tablespoons finely grated orange zest

Filling

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon water

Icing

  • 1 cup powdered/confectioner’s sugar
  • A few tablespoons whole milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

 

Directions

In a small saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Add the whole milk and white sugar and heat to 110°. Pour this into the bowl of a standing mixer. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Allow to sit for about 10-20 minutes, until mixture is frothy and proved.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine the flours, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt. After yeast mixture is ready, add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl, and combine using the dough attachment, about one cup at a time.

Add the eggs, cherries and orange zest and continue to allow to mix/knead on medium for about 10 minutes until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and is smooth. Grease the bottom of the bowl, place dough back inside. Cover with plastic wrap & a damp towel and set in a warm place to rise for 90 minutes to 2 hours. Meanwhile, spray two 9 x 5 loaf pans with cooking spray and line with one wide strip of parchment paper or aluminum foil each; spray the paper/foil as well.

Sprinkle a small amount of flour or powdered sugar on a clean surface. Punch down the dough and divide in half. Keep the other half covered with the plastic wrap while you work with the first. Flour a rolling pin & roll out the half to an 8  1/2 inch rectangle.

Combine the softened butter, light brown sugar and ground cinnamon together in a small bowl and mash with a fork. Divide the mixture in half.

Using a spatula & your fingers, spread and press the half of the sugar mixture over the dough evenly. Starting from the short end, roll the rectangle into a cylinder as tightly as you can, pressing the seam securely to seal. Using a sharp knife or a bench scraper, divide the cylinder in half, then divide each half into four rolls. Place the rolls, cut side up in the bottom of the loaf pan in two rows of four. Repeat the above process with the other half of dough. Cover both pans with plastic wrap and a damp towel. Let rise in a warm place until rise and puffy, 60-90 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350. Place a shallow pan of water on floor or bottom rack of the oven. In a small bowl, combine the beaten egg and the water. Using a pastry brush, brush the mixture over both loaves. Place in the oven and bake for about 35 minutes, covering with foil if browning too quickly on top, until inner temp of the loaves reaches 195°-200°.  Allow to cool in pan for about 5 minutes, then use the sides of the parchment paper or foil to lift out of the pan. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, for about one hour.

Combine the powdered sugar with the milk and vanilla until slightly thick. Use a fork to drizzle the icing over the top of the loaves. Allow to set for about another hour before slicing thick and serving with butter or jam.

Glazed Chamomile Hot Cross Buns

Chamomile Glazed Hot Cross Buns1

You know how there are some people that you just go back with? I mean way, way, waaaaay back? As in, they’ve known you just about most of your life and no matter how long ago it was, or how much the two of you have changed over the years, you two will always have that ‘Rainbow Connection’ that you know very well you’ll never get with people you meet these days?

Chamomile Glazed Hot Cross Buns3

See, I’m like that with food. Certain foods anyway. I’m an introvert with people, but there are a few foods that I bond with on a higher, deeper, more intimate level because they’ve just always been hanging around in the subconscious of my mind for as long and as far back as I can remember. Does that make me weird?

Maybe, but I’m a foodie and I like myself so whatevs.

Chamomile Glazed Hot Cross Buns6

Guys, Hot Cross Buns and I are connected. We have a bond. It’s been going on for a while- and I do mean a WHILE. As in, like…twenty years.

You know the funny thing? We’ve never even ‘spoken to’ each other until two days ago. (Meaning two days ago was the first time I actually ate a hot cross bun).

But Jess, I’m sure you’re thinking, how is it possible to be bonded to a food you’ve never even met?

I was just getting around to that.

Me and my sisters has this VHS tape when we were little of a huge collection of British nursery rhymes that we watched a lot. All the time actually. We recently found it on DVD on Amazon and ordered it for my baby niece to watch now.

Chamomile Glazed Hot Cross Buns2

I may or may not have watched it by myself to take a walk down memory lane and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I was slightly amused at how much the quality of kid’s movies has changed in the last twenty years-in comparison to what’s out there for them now, it’s clear to me that it obviously took so ‘little’ to hold the attention of kids of the 80’s or 90’s. Or maybe we just weren’t missing what we didn’t have, I don’t know. But somewhere in between my nostalgia and amusement, my attention was suddenly caught by one of the nursery rhymes in the movie called ‘Hot Cross Buns’. I’m sure most of you guys know it.

It’d been twenty years since I last saw the tape, but sure enough, I still remembered the music and words to the rhyme. Some things you just don’t forget. I’d like to pretend that my recollection was due to pure nostalgia but…no. It was  more than that. See during the particular scene , there’s an English baker guy walking across a bridge with a tray of piping hot hot cross buns singing the nursery rhyme while holding out one to the camera/audience. And they look really delicious. I remember thinking, “Wow, I’d REALLY like to try one of those.”

Chamomile Glazed Hot Cross Buns4

Then it hit me: I could remember wanting to try one before.

You guys see what I’m getting at here?

It was the food, or rather the memory of wanting that food that made me form a connection to hot cross buns that’s spanned a period of over twenty years. Now THAT’S  what I call a craving. If a craving lasts for over 20 years, then you just have to honor it- you’ve suffered and deprived yourself long enough, am I right?Am I RIGHT?

Fortunately hot cross buns are kind of a popular thing to make this time of year. I found a recipe on The Kitchn website rather easily, but I decided to make several changes to it to make it my own, using chamomile tea in the dough instead of Earl Grey (because it’s what I had at the time). I also topped the buns off with some melted orange marmalade I had sitting around the pantry, and piped the cross myself (yes, I know my piping skills are abysmal. You didn’t have to bring it up).

I gotta say guys…these babies were well worth the 20 year wait. Yum, yum, and more YUM.

Chamomile Glazed Hot Cross Buns7

OMG, I just remembered: I get to co-host this week’s Fiesta Friday #62 with Prudy@ButterBasilandBreadcrumbs who is basically one of my favorite people ever! And I get to bring these Hot Cross Buns to the party? I don’t know who’s more lucky- you or me.

Tell you what, while I sit here and try to figure it out, why don’t you mosey on over to our brand spankin’ new Party Hall and join in the festivities? We’d love to have you- and any food you’d care to bring and share with us!

(And as always, let’s hear it for our gracious host Angie@TheNoviceGardener. Thanks for asking me to host again Angie- it’s always a real treat.)

Glazed Chamomile Hot Cross Buns

Recipe Adapted from The Kitchn

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Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 Chamomile tea bags
  • 1 (1/4 ounce) packet of dried yeast
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3 1/2 cups (16 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 2 large eggs, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon Pumpkin Pie spice
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1/2 cup currants or raisins
  • Orange Marmalade, for glazing
  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • Milk

 Directions

Bring the water to a boil on the stovetop or in the microwave. Remove from heat and steep the tea bags in the water for 15 minutes. Remove the tea bags, squeezing as much liquid as possible out of them and discard. Let the tea cool until it is lukewarm (about 100°F).

In a small bowl, stir together the brewed tea, yeast, sugar and 1/2 cup of the flour. Set aside for 15 minutes.

Heat the butter and milk together in a small saucepan over a low heat until the butter has just melted; remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Whisk in the egg.

In a large mixing bowl, stir together the remaining flour, salt, mixed spice, lemon zest, orange zest and currants. Pour the tea mixture and the milk mixture over top. Stir together until there are only a few floury patches remaining. Tip the contents of the dough out onto a work surface and knead until smooth, about 10 minutes.

Clean the large mixing bowl and grease with some oil. Place the dough in the bowl, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and leave in a warm place to rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Divide the risen dough evenly into 12 pieces and roll them into balls. Place onto a parchment-lined baking tray spaced a few inches apart. Slash a cross into the top of each bun using a sharp knife or razor. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and leave to rise for 30 minutes until doubled in size. While the buns are rising, preheat the oven to 350°F.

Beat remaining egg in a small bowl, then brush the risen buns all over with beaten egg.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown all over. While buns are baking, heat orange marmalade in microwave until runny. After taking the buns out of the oven while they are still warm, brush them with melted marmalade and allow to completely cool.

Combine powdered sugar with a few teaspoons of milk in  a pastry bag or plastic bag with the tip cut off. Pipe a cross across the buns and allow to set/harden.