You may remember my posts about Christmas in Africa. They were wonderful. But I haven’t travelled since my illness left me with a disability. That is, until now. This is my first trip to the United States, my first trip since getting ill, my first trip this side of the date line, and the first time I’ll have been away for Easter.
I’ve been away for 3 weeks now. I’m in Washington at the moment, staying downtown in an AirBnB house that has a pretty great kitchen. In many ways it’s better than my kitchen at home. It has a beautiful, big oven, a gas cooktop, and a big side by side fridge freezer, but it is lacking all my cooking implements. After three weeks it seems I need to get baking.
Given the season, I thought I could make an ‘American’ twist on hot cross buns. I could use maple syrup instead of sugar to sweeten the dough and add blueberries and cranberries to the sultanas instead of citrus peel and apple. This is the recipe I came up with and I’m very happy with the result. They are delicious, perfectly light and fluffy, and have great flavour.
Makes about 20 buns
|300||millilitres||half and half*|
|250||millilitres||dark maple syrup|
|500||grams||strong bread flour|
|1||free range egg, beaten|
*or 250 millilitres of full cream milk and 50 grams butter
|1||tablespoons||dark maple syrup|
Bring the half and half to the boil then turn off the heat. Add the maple syrup and stir to dissolve. Allow the mixture to come to blood temperature. Mix in the yeast.
Combine the flour and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, add the wet ingredients. Mix with a spoon, then bring the dough together with your hands. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about five minutes, or until it is smooth and silky. Place in an oiled bowl and cover with cling film. Set aside in a warm place for an hour, or until it doubles in size.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Add the allspice, cinnamon, orange zest and the dried fruit. Knead them into the dough till well combined. Return the dough to the oiled bowl and leave it to rise for another hour, or until doubled in size again.
Preheat the oven to 220oC
Divide the dough Into about 20 evenly sized pieces. Add a few frozen blueberries to each portion of dough and shape them into buns. Lay the buns in a rectangular baking tray. I arranged mine in 4 rows of five. Cover the tray and leave it in a warm place until the buns have at least doubled in size.
For the crosses, place the flour in a bowl and stir in the milk to make a paste. Scoop the paste into a plastic bag, cut the tip off the corner and pipe a line down and across each row of buns. Bake for 20 minutes or until the tops of the buns are golden brown.
Brush the top of the buns generously and thoroughly with maple syrup. Allow the buns to cool a little, before turning them onto a wire rack. If you can hold onto the buns long enough for them to cool completely, store in an airtight container or in the freezer. They are delicious toasted and served with butter.