I’m not normally this orderly when I bake, but Good Friday was different. On Good Friday, I had professional photographer, Chris MacKenzie over to take photos of me baking for the blog. I was prepared, organised and a wee bit excited too. And what was I baking? Well as it’s Easter, I threw together some panetone hot cross buns; but buns ain’t just for Easter and I fully intend to make them again soon.
I adapted Dan Lepard‘s ‘Top Tea Cakes’ recipe from his gorgeous book, Short and Sweet. You won’t find his recipe here, because I’m following the Bloggers Voluntary Code of Fair Practice and not publishing any recipes on Off the Eaten Track that come from another source unless I have permission; copyright and all that.
A knock at the door! Time to put the kettle on, cut a slice of sour cherry and speculaas brownie before slipping on my pinny and getting covered in flour!
Chris hauls his camera stuff into the small space of my kitchen work area, where my two left feet kept tripping over the lights … opps!
I’ve not made any bread since I broke my hand last November, so making these buns was a way for me to test out how my hand would cope with kneading.
First things first, mixing the yeast with some of the flour and the water. Dan’s instructions say leave for 15 minutes, but the warmth from the lights made the mix bubble up like a beige, yeasty Vesuvius; while it was strutting its funky stuff, I heated the milk until boiling, added the syrup, sugar, salt and the panetone essence (a blend of various natural citrus oils from Bakery Bits).
I didn’t include the dried fruit or spices as I was going to divide the dough so half would be fruity and the other half chocolaty. The spices I replaced with the panetone oil.
After beating the eggs, I added them to the cooled milky mix. Tipping the rest of the flour into a large bowl, this is where I normally get flour everywhere, I poured in the milky, eggy goo, stirring until clumps formed, which I then kneaded briefly into a ball.
Covering the bowl with clingfilm, I left the dough for 10 minutes, then repeated the kneading and resting after 15 then 30 minutes. Dan suggests kneading the dough on a lightly oiled worksurface; I wasn’t going to argue and it didn’t stick at all. In fact it was a wonderful dough to work with.
Splitting the dough in two, I threw the fruit over one half, folding and kneading it. Not an easy task, as the spongy lump didn’t want anything to do with the raisins, sultanas and other bits that I wanted to incorporate. Eventually it submitted and I played the same game with the chopped up chocolate. It was then left to sulk for another half hour.
Like the yeast, the dough liked the warmth from Chris’ light and didn’t need the full proving time.
Another very gentle knead and I cut the dough into 12 pieces, shaping into roundels.
Plopping them onto two buttered baking sheets, I left the wee darlings to keep warm and bulk out until double their size under a blanket of cling film – about 1-1 ½ hours.
Once voluptuously risen, a quick egg wash was followed by a drizzle of rather runny flour paste to form the crosses of the hot cross buns. Thrusting them into a nice hot oven, Chris and I waited the 12-15 minutes for them to turn from pallid balls of dough into provocative golden orbs.
And this is what we ended up with. The smell was just absolutely fabbytits and they tasted even better!
I’d like to thank Chris for his time and Dan for his wonderful Short and Sweet cookbook.
Words: © Lea Harris, Off the Eaten Track. 2012.
Photos: © Chris Mackenzie