- Date: Thursday, January 15, 2009 -- 8pm
- Location: Bloomington, IN
- Kitchen: My Apartment
- Dining Companion: Matty
- Recipe Rating: C+
When I was in fourth grade, and had just started playing the violin, my "strings" class would play the Hot Cross Buns song over and over and over again. Our teacher would sometimes sing along as we played: "Hot cross buns, hot cross buns, one a penny, two a penny, hot cross buns." That was the extent of my knowledge about these mythical Hot Cross Buns. So when I noticed, years ago, that there was a recipe for them in The Book, I was intrigued. But when I saw it required making a yeast risen dough, and a pastry dough, I was a little put off. Eventually this recipe appeared on my list generated by the random number generator. Yet, I still couldn't motivate to make them. So the recipe had been sitting on the list since May 20, 2007. These past few weeks I have been trying to cook more from said list, and slowly the 20 items on the list are becoming more and more undesirable to make. In comparison, the Hot Cross Buns started sounding like a piece of cake. So, a couple weeks ago, I finally made them! I put off this recipe for quite some time, but never because I thought it would be bad -- in fact, though, this recipe was quite disappointing.
I started by proofing yeast in warm milk and sugar. Then I sifted together flour, allspice, cinnamon, salt, and more sugar. I added butter, carefully incorporating it with my fingers. Then I added some egg and the yeast mixture, then currants, golden raisins, orange zest, and lemon zest. I kneaded the dough for 10 minutes, then let it rise. In the meantime, I made a batch of pate brisee (aka pie crust) and put it in the fridge. After the dough had risen I formed it into balls, and let the balls rise again. Once they had doubled in size I brushed them with a mixture of egg and sugar. Then I rolled out the pastry dough, cut it into very thin strips, and used the strips to form a cross on each bun. I baked the buns until they were golden.
I have three complaints about this recipe:
3. General Absurdity
Let's start with flavor. I was skeptical when I saw that this recipe called for one and a half teaspoons of allspice. Allspice is powerful stuff. You rarely see it appear in a recipe in a quantity greater than 1/4 teaspoon. One and half teaspoons? That's craziness. And indeed, these buns were like little allspice bombs in your mouth. I didn't like that.
A much bigger problem though was the texture. When I read "bun" I expected something fluffy and tender. These buns had a very dense texture. I think the dough was too dry perhaps, and it didn't rise well at all. The buns had hardly any oven-rise to them, and they came out as dense as a bagel -- definitely not the right texture for a sweet bun.
And finally, general absurdity. Pie crust on top of a bun? Keep in mind that my buns tasted like allspice bagels (which you will note is not a popular bagel flavor). So this recipe made allspice bagels with pie crust on top. Did the pie crust hurt anything? Well, no, not really. But it was so absurd! And it didn't contribute positively to the buns so it was extra work for no real reward.
I have faith that hot cross buns can be delicious. There are some delicious looking pictures online. But this recipe did not produce delicious results.
Here is the recipe.