Saturday, April 16, 2011

It Was Ever Thus!

Hot Cross Buns:makes 12
1 x 500g pack White Bread Mix
2 oz (50g) caster sugar
1 tblsp mixed spice
3 oz (75g) butter, melted
9 fl oz (250ml) milk, slightly warmed
1 egg, beaten
8 oz (225g) dried mixed fruit
2 oz (50g) candied peel
4 oz (100g)plain flour
6 tblsp water
honey or golden syrup to glaze
Put the bread mix into a bowl with the sugar and spice and mix well together, then make a well in the centre. Mix the butter in with the milk,stir in the egg and tip this into the well in the flour. Stir together with a knife until a dough is formed, then using the hands, gather this together into a ball and top onto a lightly floured board, kneading for five minutes until smooth and elastic. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, covering with a cloth, and leave in a warm place for the dough to rise until doubled in size (this can take anything from 30 minutes to one hour).
When the dough has risen, punch it down with the knuckles to get rid of the air(this is called 'knocking back', and then put the dough on a floured surface and roll it out (or flatten with hands) to make a rectangle (A3 size). Mix the dried fruit and peel together, and sprinkle this over the dough, then roll up from one end, then fold in half and knead until the fruit has been taken up evenly throughout the dough.
Either form the dough into an oblong and put this in a greased and floured loaf tin, or form the dough into 12 even sized lumps and shaped these into balls. Place these on a greased and floured baking sheet, allowing room for them to spread.
Whichever way of baking is chosen, both need covering with a damp cloth or oiled cling film and again put into a warm place until risen.
If wishing to put the traditional cross on each bun (and maybe also on a loaf)stir the water into the flour to make a soft paste. Put this into a freezer bag and cut off one corner so it can be used as a piping bag, then pipe a cross on each bun after they have risen, but be sure not to knock back the dough or it will collapse again.
Bake the buns for 20 - 25 minutes at 200C, 400F, gas 6, or for 45 - 50 minutes if making a loaf. Warm honey or syrup in a pan until runny, then brush this over the tops of the cook and hot buns, then allow to cool slightly (or completely) before splitting and spreading with butter.

Iced Buns:makes 20
1 x 500g pack White Bread Mix
4 oz (100g) caster sugar
1 egg
250 - 300ml water, lukewarm
9 oz (250g) icing sugar
Mix the bread mix and sugar together, and add the egg and enough water to make a soft dough (more easily done in a food processor or mixer than by hand). Knead on a floured surface for about 5 - 10 minutes (or use a machine with a dough hook) until smooth. Place in an oiled bowl, cover and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (could take one hour). Knock back with the knuckles, the divide into 20 even pieces, keeping them covered with a towel or cling film to stop the surface drying out. Shape each piece into a thick sausage, place on a greased baking tray and cover with a towel or oiled film, and leave them in a warm place again to rise until doubled in size. Remove cover and bake at 200C, 400F, gas 6 for 8 - 10 minutes until golden, then remove and cool on a cake airer.
If wishing to ice the buns, mix the icing sugar with a little water. It needs to be fairly stiff yet able to be spread easily, then leave to set.

Other ways of using bread mix is to use the dough to make pizza bases, or some of the dough could be used to make buns, the rest to make pizzas or pitta bread. Myself often save a bit of surplus dough, roll it into a ball, place it in a bag and freeze it. This thaws rapidly and can be used (when the oven is on for something else) to bake into a couple of pitta breads, or a good handful of bread sticks, and can also be used - rolled thinly - instead of pastry (but used in the same way) to make Pasties - these being the Italian version of our Cornish Pastie, but with a different filling (according to our choice) and which they call 'Calzone'.