from one generation to the next
What ever happened to Chelsea buns, Boston buns, coffee scrolls and the plethora of yeasted sticky fruit buns of different shapes, sizes and garnishes that adorned the display window of the local bakery when I was a kid?
It seems they have gone in the direction of beehive hairdos and smoking, unfashionable and bad for your health, except at Easter we embrace our inner child and scoff Hot Cross Buns by the truckload. It’s not without reason that the supermarkets begin to stack their shelves with Easter buns early each New Year, customers can’t get enough.
But have you ever eaten a Hot Cross Bun bought in the supermarket? They are a first cousin of the pappy white sliced bread available on the next shelf. They lack spice, fruit, flavour and texture.
I’m a traditionalist when it comes to Easter buns. I like my buns just sweet but super moist. I like them to be studded generously with currants, warm with spices and citrus zest and have the textural variation of a few chopped nuts added. They must be topped with a sparkling jewel like glaze.
For the Easters in the recent past I’ve searched out and bought artisan buns, but since the seismic shift toward excellence with my 100% spelt sourdough bread, I’ve been thinking about home made Hot Cross Buns, about devising a formula that will translate into the above mentioned warmly remembered buns of my childhood.
100% Spelt Sourdough Hot Cross Buns
300g activated spelt sourdough starter
485g organic white spelt flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
60g brown sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
finely grated zest of an orange
2 large eggs, whisked lightly
60g melted butter, cooled
90 mls milk, lightly warmed to remove the fridge chill
60g roughly chopped walnuts
Whisk the flour, salt, sugar and spices together to thoroughly combine.
Lightly whisk together the eggs, butter, milk and zest to combine.
Weigh the starter into a large mixing bowl, add the dry ingredients, then the wet and mix into a shaggy dough.
Refrigerate for 20 minutes.
Lightly flour the bench, tip the dough onto the bench then knead until smooth.
Stretch the dough into an oblong then sprinkle the currants and nuts over the dough then continue kneading until the fruit is evenly distributed.
Return the dough to the fridge in a greased bowl and allow to rest for 40 minutes.
Remove the dough from the fridge then stretch it into a large oblong on the bench. Fold the edges to the middle over and over until you have a tight boule.
Return the dough to buttered bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap then prove the dough overnight in the fridge. My dough had 13 hours.
The next morning, divide the dough into 14 X 80g pieces.
Line an oven tray with baking paper.
Shape the buns by flattening each piece then folding the edges into the centre until the outside surface is taut and most of the fruit is within.
Place the shaped buns on the paper lined tray 1cm apart, then cover them loosely with oiled plastic and set aside at room temperature for 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 200C
Crosses: Make a thick slurry with 1 heaped tablespoon gluten free flour, 1 heaped tablespoon spelt flour, pinch of baking powder and 2 tablespoons water.
Pipe the crosses onto the buns then put them immediately into the hot oven and bake for 10 minutes at 200C.
Reduce the heat to 180C and bake for a further 20 minutes.
Glaze: In a small pan heat 1/4 cup sugar and 1/4 cup water until the sugar has melted.
Immediately after you remove the buns from the oven, brush generously with the glaze, then set the buns aside to cool on wire rack.