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    Whole Grain Hot Cross Buns

    Hot cross buns

    Hot cross buns are more than a popular nursery rhyme in our household. Hot out of the oven spread with butter, they are a fantastic spicy brunch item and since Easter’s the season, here’s a recipe. Yes it’s a yeasted bread dough but don’t be afraid. This one’s one of the rare yeasted doughs that ever rose to the occasion in my drafty kitchen. Most of my other bread experiments miserably fail, this one works. The original from Donna Hay‘s uses white flour and refined sugar but I’ve substituted healthier ingredients for nutritional hot cross buns. As a result, they are whole grain solid and one per person will probably be enough to satisfy a Sunday morning hunger. Eat warm with butter and as I usually recommend after a hearty bite, go for a walk!

    Ingredients

    • 1 Tablespoon dry active yeast
    • 1/2 cup brown or raw sugar
    • 1 1/2 cup lukewarm milk
    • 2 cups white flour
    • 2 cups whole wheat flour
    • 2 teaspoons Chinese 5 spice mix
    • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 stick (60 g) butter, melted
    • 1 egg
    • 1 1/2 cup sultanas
    • 1/3 cup candied peel

    For the cross design

    • 1/3 cup plain flour
    • 1/3 cup water

    For the glaze

    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1/2 cup refined sugar

    Recipe

    1. Place the yeast, 2 teaspoons of sugar and the milk in a bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. It will begin to foam.
    2. In a separate bowl – or Kitchen Aid bowl if you have one – add flours, spices, cinnamon, butter, egg, sultanas, mixed peel and remaining sugar to the yeast mixture. Mix well until a sticky dough forms – with Kitchen Aid, about 2-3 minutes. If the dough is not sticky enough, add more milk a teaspoon at a time.
    3. Place in an oiled bowl and cover, place in as warm spot until it doubles in size. I use plastic wrap and place the bowl inside my (cold) oven with only the monitor light on. Since my kitchen is drafty, it seems to be a good place for any dough to rise – to the occasion.
    4. Grease a deep 9 by 13 in baking tray or any high rim square or rectangular oven-proof dish.
    5. I love that line in all yeasted bread recipes: “punch down the dough.” So go ahead, feel good about it and your dough a generous punch. It should deflate fast. Divide it and roll it into 12 little balls (or however many people you wish to entertain) and line them up in the tray. Set them aside in a warm place until they double in size – it took mine about an hour, this time in the microwave with a monitor light on since I couldn’t use the oven – it has to be preheated so you can switch your buns from wherever they rose to the heated oven in a pinch.
    6. When you see your buns close to doubled in size, preheat oven at 400F/180C.
    7. Mix the remaining flour and water for the cross design. Place in a place bag, snip the tip and pipe crosses (or whatever you want) on top of the balls.
    8. Bake for 35 minutes or until brown and springy.
    9. When the buns are done, get them out of the oven and cool down.
    10. For the shiny glaze (I messed up that part, I didn’t wait until the buns were out of the oven – that was a mistake) bring the sugar and water of the glaze to a boil and paint the top of the buns with it.
    11. Eat right now or enjoy over the next few days sliced and toasted like a bagel with butter and your favorite jam!

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