It’s that time of year, when sweet, risen (no pun intended) Easter breads are seen everywhere. This year, I wanted to try my hand at one of the classics: spiced, frosted, fluffy hot cross buns. And when I got an email from King Arthur Flour showing an easy recipe for the buns, I jumped right in! Now, my finished product was supposed to look something like this:
copyright, King Arthur Flour
But folks, if you know me and my baking habits, you know that a bit of an adventure is about to follow. Baking with yeast is not my forte; it could be impatience, it could be disinterest, or it could be laziness. (Or heck, it could be all three!) Despite being a descendant of some serious bread/pastry makers, I really do love “quick bread” type recipes for muffins, scones, biscuits, etc. more, both in the baking and in the eating. But this recipe looked so straightforward that I figured, “I can do this!”
The flavors in the recipe are fantastic: cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and currants soaked in Grand Marnier (haha that last bit was my modification). And according to the recipe, all you need to do is throw all the room temperature ingredients into your mixer, add the dough hook attachment, and get to kneading! So I did as I was told, and left the completed dough to go through its first rise for 1 hour.
(Because it was Sunday and my brain was fully in the OFF position, I forgot to take a picture at this stage.)
Suffice it to say, there was no rise at all. So I did what any level-headed baker would do: I called my mother. We chatted a bit about the instructions and determined that the culprit was the lack of heat. Usually, the milk that’s used to proof the yeast is at least warm to the touch to expedite the rising process, so the lack of heat in the room temperature ingredients slowed everything down. But since the dough was made, the die was cast, so to speak, so the only option was to forge ahead. I shaped the buns into their final shape and placed them in their baking conveyance:
(Tip to all you bakers out there: when handling a very sticky/wet dough, you can make the process easier by keeping your hands slightly damp; that way, the dough won’t stick to your hands.)
So after the second 1-hour rise of the dough, this is what I was still stuck with:
Once again, almost no change in volume = no rise. However, my mom had assured me that some rising would occur during the baking time, so I tossed the buns into the oven and decided that, even if they didn’t rise much, they would be delicious as (what my mom aptly described as): hot cross scones! haha! So into the oven they went for 20 minutes, and this is what came out:
Yep! A bit of rise and things were looking more promising!
But wait! There’s more! I know it’s not traditional to “frost” these buns (at least according to some of the surprisingly not-nice comments left on the KAF recipe page by “true” English bakers), but I am not one to pass up a frosting opportunity. So what did I do? I frosted them!
And what did I do? I made the frosting way too runny! SIGH. No matter, the runny nature of the frosting wasn’t going to affect the flavor of the bun, so Andrew and I took a sample taste:
Really delish! You can’t tell from the photo, but the buns have a very doughy consistency, the product of what I think would be the lack of proper rising. If these had risen more before baking, I think the buns would have had a much lighter texture instead of the heavier/denser texture they have now.
Finally, there was one more gaffe to make haha. Not only did I make the frosting too runny, I made waaaaaay too much of it. I hate wasting food or its parts, so I did what any normal baker would do: I frosted the heck out of that pan of hot cross buns!
And I am very happy to report that, as of this morning, the buns still taste great and so does all that frosting: