Dried cranberry, white chocolate and orange hot cross buns
It’s a bit sacrilegious I know, changing hot cross buns but … I always buy the fruit spice ones and they’re lovely, in fact I usually stock up around this time of year so I can have a few stored in the freezer. However, I wanted to bake some buns myself so thought I’d throw in a couple of different flavours, flavours I usually enjoy in a cookie.
They look a bit messy … how do people make super neat looking buns because I never seem to?! Respect. They taste lovely though so don’t let the appearance put you off, the cakey softness of these buns combined with sweet, chewy cranberries, creamy white chocolate and a hint of orange is wonderful.
I iced the crosses on instead of using the traditional flour and water mixture; I tried that once and ended up with huge thick crosses which ran into the dough and had a really chewy texture. A bit of a fail, so I copped out and made icing sugar crosses instead, which worked out really well because the orange flavoured icing is gorgeous. For something even more special, you could make sticky buns by increasing the amount of the icing and covering the whole top of the bun, instead of just the crosses.
I’m far from being any expert on baking bread however with my experiences re: kneading: go by the feel of the dough rather than the timing – this is better done by hand-kneading (and anyway, you get a good workout!). I’ve over-kneaded dough before, to the point where it felt hard and tight (this can happen using the hook attachment on a stand mixer). You’ve gone too far if this happens and the bread turns out dry and less tender once baked. I’ve never really under-kneaded dough but as I understand it, the dough feels too soft, the gluten hasn’t been developed enough and can turn out a flatter bread. An ideal dough should be smooth and spring back when pressed, but still be on the soft and warm side.
Recipe for cranberry white chocolate orange hot cross buns:
2 cups plain flour
1 tspn mixed spice
1 tspn orange zest (optional)
1/4 cup raw caster sugar
1 tspn dried yeast
40g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 large egg (59g weight), whisked lightly
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 tspn orange zest (finely grated)
2 x 15ml tblspns raw caster sugar
1/2 tspn vanilla bean paste
Scant 1/4 cup icing sugar
Sprinkling finely grated orange zest
1 tspn milk
Pre-soak cranberries in warm water for 45 minutes. Drain really well in colander, pat dry with paper towel and set aside. Pre-soaking the dried fruit can prevent the dough from drying out however I didn’t do this step this time.
Grease a large mixing bowl and set aside. Place baking paper onto a flat baking tray.
Sift flour and spice into another large mixing bowl - add zest (if using), sugar and yeast and whisk until combined. Make a well in the middle.
Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until just warm (tepid). Add egg and quickly whisk to combine.
Add egg/milk mixture to dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until combined, and mixture starts to come together.
Continue bringing together in a ball using your hands and turn dough out onto a clean, flat, lightly floured surface and knead for 5-6 minutes; add flour to the board as required. Knead and press into a flattish round, add the chocolate and cranberries into the middle; fold over dough and knead as above until distributed throughout the dough, for around 4 more minutes, or until dough is smooth and springs back when pressed – keeping adding flour to the board as needed. The add-ins do tend to fall out a bit at first but just place them back into the dough and continue kneading, it will come together.
The dough should pass the ‘window’ test – stretch a small piece of dough and if it forms a transparent window without breaking, the dough is ready.
Place dough into a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a damp tea towel and stand in a warm, draft free place for 45-60 minutes or until doubled in size. I either use the oven or the microwave to store the bowl (turned off obviously).
Punch dough with your fist so it collapses (I love that bit) and turn onto a clean, flat, lightly floured surface. Knead dough briefly, until smooth and elastic. Divide dough into log, then cut into 6 pieces, and shape into round buns. Place buns onto prepared pan close together (this will help them to rise). Cover with greased plastic wrap and set aside in the same warm place as previously, for 40 minutes or until the buns have risen and increased significantly in size.
Preheat oven to 200C (190C fan forced). Bake buns for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden and tops sound hollow when tapped.
Brush warm syrup over the hot buns. Cool on tin for 5 minutes then remove onto cooling rack to cool completely before icing.
Once cool, ice crosses onto buns with icing mixture using the zip lock bag method below.
Place all ingredients into a small saucepan and simmer over low-medium heat for around 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until sugar has dissolved and mixture has reduced a bit.
Make icing just before using. Sift icing sugar into a small bowl. Add zest and milk and beat with a wooden spoon until combined, smooth and thickened a bit . Use a spatula to spoon into a zip lock bag; squeeze icing mixture into a corner and snip of a small corner with sharp scissors.
Adapted from: Gourmet Traveller