Friday, 29 March 2013

Date and almond hot cross buns

If you read my recent post about Easter treats, you will know that this time of the year is all about chocolate for me. I am not a huge fan of fruit in baking as I generally prefer fresh rather than dried fruit, so Simnel cake is definitely off the menu for me. When it comes to hot cross buns; I have always wanted to like them as they smell delicious and they always look good when I see them lightly toasted with a bit of butter but the currants always put me off. After seeing lots of recipes and pictures flying about with different twists on the traditional Easter recipe, I thought I would give them a go with a different flavour. I have made them in the past but never eaten one so I needed to make sure that I picked flavours that would make me want to taste this time. After looking at various recipes online, I decided to adapt this one from The BBC Good Food site and use the Dan Lepard kneading method , which has always worked well for me since discovering his brilliant Short and Sweet book. Most glazes consisted of apricot jam or a syrup but I opted for a little bit of lemon curd for an extra bit of zing. I was distracted by the little one whilst my buns were in the oven, so they are a little darker than they should be but they still taste great, lightly toasted with a good bit of butter.


For the buns

500g strong white bread flour
75g caster sugar
300ml full fat milk
50g butter
1 egg, beaten
7g fast action yeast
100g dates, stoned and chopped
Grated peel of one orange
Zest of one orange
Grated peel of one lemon
75g toasted almonds, chopped roughly
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp allspice
pinch ground ginger
pinch of salt

For the cross

75g plain flour
3/4 tbls water

For the glaze

3 tbls lemon curd


1. Gently heat a little of the milk and pour into a small bowl with the yeast, leaving it until it goes bubbly. Heat the rest of the milk then remove from heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature and stir in the egg.
2. Put the flour, sugar, salt, spices, dates and nuts into a large bowl, along with the zest and peel from your fruit. Make a well in the centre of the bowl and add in your like mixture and yeast. Mix well ,bringing everything together with your hands to make a sticky dough.
3. Tip onto a lightly oiled surface and knead the dough for 10 seconds. Return the dough to the bowl and cover for 10 minutes, then once again knead on an oiled surface for 10 seconds. Repeat this for a third time then leave the dough in the covered bowl for 1 hour ( see the Dan Lepard link for more detail , if required)
4. Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll each into a small ball, on a slightly oiled surface. Place on baking trays, making sure you leave enough room for the buns to expand. Cover with a tea towel and leave for one hour.
5. Heat the oven to 220/gas 7. Mix the flour with about 5tbsp water to make the paste for the cross. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses. Bake for 20 minutes on the middle shelf of oven , until golden brown.
6.Gently heat the lemon curd to melt then brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.

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