On Good Friday Mr M and I found ourselves at home and in the mood for a cooking fest. I had an intense craving for a hot cross bun as due to my wheat-free status this Easter I hadn’t eaten one at all (usually I can get my hands on some lovely rye buns from Alex’s Wuppertaler & Rye Bakery, but for some reason I couldn’t find them this year). This month’s Gourmet Traveller was lying about the house and contained a delicious recipe for apple hot cross buns that was crying out to be made. We had almost all the ingredients on hand and a quick trip to Sonsa in Smith St netted me some dried apple and mixed peel.
I was a bit stressed that our spelt bun making efforts would be disastrous, given some of my past spelt-flour failures. It is always a guessing game as to quantities and spelt dough is difficult to deal with – much stickier than dough made with regular flour. However, it all worked out beautifully. The buns are relatively quick and easy to make, except for the proving time required with the dough. I was really happy with the consistency of the buns, light and chewy and beautiful.
I find that spelt breads are generally drier and denser than ordinary breads (due to the lower gluten content), however, these buns were moist and delicious. I think the addition of the cooked apple really works very well here to combat any potential dryness. Note that in making the spelt buns I added extra flour but I didn’t add additional quantities of fruit or peel and the buns were still deliciously full of fruit.
While I have missed the boat by failing to post this before Easter, these buns could certainly be enjoyed year round (just omit the cross). I think it would be lovely to whip up a batch of these if hosting a late brunch or an afternoon tea. Seriously delicious.
Apple hot cross buns
(adapted from Gourmet Traveller)
325 g caster sugar
1½ Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored, diced
1 cinnamon quill
800g plain flour (if using spelt – 950g)
50g dried apple, diced
30g mixed peel
14 g (2 sachets) dried yeast (if using spelt – about 10g)
3½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp allspice
Finely grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
380 ml milk
100 gm butter, coarsely chopped
- Combine 260g sugar and 375ml water in a saucepan, then squeeze in juice of half a lemon and stir over medium-high heat until sugar dissolves.
- Cut remaining lemon half into 5mm-thick slices, add to pan with apple and cinnamon quill. Bring to the simmer, reduce heat to medium and cook until lemon and apple are translucent (20-25 minutes).
- Strain, reserving both the fruit and syrup separately.
- Dice lemon, combine with apple and set aside.
- Combine 700g plain flour (or 840g spelt flour), sultanas, raisins, dried apple, mixed peel, yeast, 3 tsp ground cinnamon, allspice, rinds, remaining sugar, reserved apple mixture and 1 tsp salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre.
- Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan, warm over low heat until butter melts and mixture is lukewarm.
- Whisk in egg, then add milk mixture to flour, stirring with a wooden spoon to form a soft dough (this needed some arm muscles!)
- Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes) or pop it into a mixer with a dough hook and knead until smooth and elastic (4 minutes or so). Note that using an electric mixer is much easier if you are making a spelt bun as the dough is much stickier than dough made with regular flour.
- Place in a lightly buttered bowl, cover and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (30-40 minutes).
- Knock back dough, divide into 20 even pieces (you can make about 24 if you are following the spelt recipe) then knead each piece into a smooth ball.
- Arrange dough balls into two concentric circles on a large round or rectangular baking tray lined with baking paper, leaving 1cm between each for dough to expand. Cover with a tea towel and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (30-40 minutes).
- Preheat oven to 220C. Combine remaining flour with equal parts cold water in a bowl and stir to a smooth paste. Add additional water until you reach the desired consistency – it needs to be liquid enough to pipe easily but must be thick enough so that the lines hold. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and pipe a cross shape onto each bun.
- Bake for 10 minutes then reduce oven to 200C and bake until golden and buns sound hollow when tapped (8-10 minutes).
- After the first 10 minutes, combine reserved syrup and remaining ground cinnamon in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until syrupy and combined.
- Brush over hot buns – a generous amount is good, but be don’t oversoak the buns.
- Transfer to a wire rack to cool…