Hot cross buns are magical.
If you don't believe me, just get a load of the superstitions that cling to the sweet morsel to this day:
(1) Hot cross buns, if baked and served on Good Friday, will keep for a year without getting moldy.
(2) They are medicinal.
(3) Sharing a hot cross bun guarantees a solid friendship for an ENTIRE YEAR!
(4) Taken on a cruise, they guard against shipwreck (and if you are to believe #2, will also keep away the rampant gastrointestinal tom foolery that seems to attack Carnival Cruisers the world over).
(5) Hang them ornamentally in the kitchen and they prevent fires all year long!
All these wondrous benefits and they are awfully tasty. So I wish you a very healthy, non-shipwrecked, friendship filled and fire free year.
New England Hot Cross Buns
Maple. Cranberry. That's what makes for the New England in the bun!
1 pound bread flour
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
generous pinch of ground cloves
1/2 ounce dry (not instant) yeast (2 packets)
1 cup whole milk, warm
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1 stick (4 ounces/8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
zest of 1 lemon
1 cup dried cranberries
Egg wash: 1 egg and 2 tablespoons water, beaten together
1/4 cup demerara or turbinado sugar for sprinkling
Icing for the cross: 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar blended with 1 tablespoon whole milk.
Preheat oven to 400º
-Combine yeast, warm milk and pinch sugar. Stir and allow to bloom
-In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the sugar, maple syrup, the vanilla bean paste, zest and the egg. Add the bloomed yeast.
-Add the dry ingredients, the flour, salt and spices and mix with the dough hook just combined. Add the softened butter in small pieces until completely incorporated.
-Continue to mix until the gluten develops and the dough is shiny and comes away from the bowl cleanly.
-Add the cranberries and mix until they are well incorporated and evenly distributed.
-Place the dough in a bowl sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Spray the top of the dough as well. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to rest for 15 to 20 minutes.
-Divide the dough into 15 even pieces.
-Using the "claw," roll each ball into a tight ball. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and cut a cross into each ball of dough.
-Allow to rise, covered loosely with a piece of plastic wrap, until the buns have not quite doubled in size
-Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with demerara (or turbinado sugar)
-Bake at 400º for about 20 minutes, until deep golden brown.
-Allow to cool slightly and then drizzle or pipe icing inside the cross.