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How To Make Orange Hot Cross Buns.

After a couple of experimental not-so-good sweet bakes (turns out Chinese five spice doesn’t go with everything), it was reassuring to get back to bread. Kneading dough is so therapeutic and there’s that elemental joy of the aroma of baking bread. These hot cross buns flavoured with fresh orange and candied peel are just the ticket for this time of year, and a lovely addition to your Easter brunch table.

Reality Bakes

I almost forgot to add the butter. I have such a small kitchen and I had the butter sitting out and softening away from the other ingredients. Luckily, I caught it in time and added it, along with the orange zest, which I had also forgotten. Hectic day in the kitchen, I guess. I’d also say that a couple of the buns weren’t as smooth on top as I’d have liked but it certainly didn’t affect the marvelous flavor.Looking for a great savory roll recipe, maybe something to go with that Easter ham? Try these buttermilk ricotta fennel rolls.

Orange Hot Cross Buns

Ingredients

For the Buns

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup whole milk or half-and-half
1 tsp granulated sugar
1 packet active dry yeast
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour or bread flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves or allspice
1/4 tsp ground ginger
Zest of one orange
6 tbsp unsalted butter, softened and cut into pieces
1 large egg, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature; reserve egg white
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins or sultanas
1/2 cup candied orange peel or mixed dried fruit

For the Wash and Crosses

Reserved egg white
1 tbsp milk or half-and-half
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup flour
Pinch of sugar
5 to 6 tbsp water

For the Orange Simple Syrup Glaze

1/3 cup fresh orange juice
2 tbsp sugar

Instructions

Combine water and milk and heat to 110°F. Add one teaspoon granulated sugar and the packet of yeast. Stir vigorously then let sit for about 10 minutes, until foaming and bubbly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together flour, light brown sugar, salt, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger. Add the orange zest and butter pieces and mix to combine.

Using the dough hook attachment, make a small well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the yeast/milk mixture, the egg and egg yolk, and the vanilla. Mix on medium speed until dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will be slightly sticky. Add the raisins and candied peel (or dried fruit) and mix to combine.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead for 5 to 6 minutes, until supple and elastic. Shape into a ball and place in an oiled bowl, flipping dough ball over to coat both sides. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size, usually 1 to 2 hours.

Line a 9×13 baking tray with parchment. Tip dough out and gently punch it down with your knuckles. Shape into a loose log shape and cut into 12 roughly equal pieces. (If weighing, the pieces should be about 3 ounces each.) Shape each piece into a ball by smoothing over the top of the ball and cupping under the ball, tucking in the seams underneath. Turn the ball and continue to shape and smooth. Place on the lined baking tray. Repeat with the remaining pieces, placing them a little bit apart from each other on the tray, 3 across and 4 down.

Cover the buns on the tray with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and let rise again, until puffy and almost doubled in size, usually about 45 minutes to an hour. While buns are rising, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Wash and Crosses

Just before the second proof is done, whisk together egg white, milk, and a pinch of salt. In a separate small bowl, mix together flour, sugar and 5 tablespoons of water into a thick paste. If still too thick to pipe, add another tablespoon of water.

When buns are proofed, brush them on the tops and sides with the egg white/milk wash.

Scoop the flour paste into a plastic baggie. Snip off the corner and pipe crosses onto each bun.

Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Rotate tray halfway through baking time to get even color.

Orange Simple Syrup Glaze

While buns are baking, bring orange juice and sugar to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. The syrup should thicken as it cools.

When buns are done baking, brush the orange syrup on while buns are still warm. Serve and enjoy!