Thursday, March 24, 2016

RECIPE // Sourdough Hot Cross Buns

I know Robbie is disappointed that winter is over, but I am so excited that spring is here. I felt cheated out of a snow filled winter for a week or two. After a hyacinth filled trip to Terrain, I got over it. The temperature is perfect right now; the sun is warming everything, but there's a perfect breeze keeping it cool. If every day could be like Easter, that would be perfect.

This week I'm doing all of the prep work for Easter brunch. This is the second year that my mom and I have teamed up to make breakfast for my entire family. There will be quiches everywhere, scones for days, and endless mimosas. The amount of work that goes into it is daunting, but I love an opportunity to cook with my mom. A day that would normally be hectic is filled with relaxed cooking and fun music.

Brunch is certainly the main affair on Easter, but we still have to worry about dinner too. I normally sit back and enjoy the ham. This year I decided to contribute to the meal. I've been baking sourdough bread a lot recently, but rye bread is the most adventurous bread I've made. Hot cross buns seemed like a good bread to experiment with an enriched sourdough. The added fat, sugar, and eggs slow rising in doughs with commercial yeast, and sourdoughs also rise at a slower speed. I was worried that this was going to take a few days. Thankfully the rise was not as slow as I had feared. It's just slow enough that you can set it aside to rise while you work on the rest of dinner. If you time it just right, you can start it in the morning, and have them coming out of the oven as everyone sits down for dinner.

Sourdough Hot Cross Buns:

for the buns:
1 heaping cup of unfed sourdough starter
1/4 cup of milk
1 1/2 cups of bread flour
1 egg
zest of half of a lemon
3 tbsp of grass fed unsalted butter, melted
3 tbsp of honey
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of clove
2 tsp of salt, not iodized
1/2 cup of dried currants

for the topping:
2 tbsp of grass fed unsalted butter
3 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp of milk
1/2 cup of flour
1 egg
tbsp of heavy cream

In a stand mixer with a hook attachment, combine all of the ingredients except the currants. Mix on low speed for 4 minutes. Increase the speed to high and mix for another 4 minutes. Add the currants and mix on low for another minute to incorporate.

Cover the dough and let it rise until it doubles in size, about two hours. Punch the dough down and divide it into 1 1/2 inch pieces (an ice cream scoop works perfectly). Put the buns on a greased baking tray, three inches apart from one another. Cover the buns and let them rise until doubled in size, about two hours.

Near the end of the two hours, begin the topping. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the butter, sugar, and milk. Add the flour and mix until all of the flour is incorporated. Fill a pastry bag with a #6 tip with this topping.

In a separate bowl whisk the egg and heavy cream together. Brush this egg wash onto the buns. Pipe crosses onto each bun with the topping. Bake the buns for 18 minutes. Cool on a wire racks.