Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Easter Week

Yesterday morning, I took a plateful of warm buns down to the coffee shop where I keep a sort of second office. The Caribou Crew were so amazed -- like I’d given them a pay raise or something. Then, last night when, by chance, the manager saw us eating hamburgers in a little café, her face lit up, she came over gave us each a hug, and introduced her boyfriend. We were honored. These are far easier to make than one would think. And holy in their own little way.

Hot Cross Buns

4 cups flour
¼ cup candied fruit. (I hate candied fruit. I substitute ¼ cup raisins and ¼ cup snipped dried apricots.)
¼ cup chopped nuts
1 pkg (2 T.) yeast
2 T warm water
1 cup warm milk
¼ melted butter
1 ½ t. salt
¼ cup sugar
1 egg, beaten
½ t. vanilla
1 t. (or so) grated lemon zest (I use orange)

In a large bowl, mix warm water and yeast. Add warm milk and sugar, stirring to dissolve. Melt butter in a little dish and mix in the egg to reduce temperature. You don’t want to kill the yeast by adding boiling hot butter. Add to yeast mixture. Add vanilla, salt, and 2 cups of flour. Beat until the batter drools off the whisk. With a wooden spoon, stir in fruit and nuts and another cup of flour. Dust the dough really well with part of the last cup and then turn out on the counter to knead. Knead the dough until it springs back when you punch in your thumb. All the while add bits of flour to keep it from sticking to your hands and the surface. Replace in bowl and smear butter all over the top. Cover and place in a warm spot to rise until double. About an hour. Butter 2 cookie sheets or cake pans. Or something. Punch the dough down. You can be aggressive here. Grab little globs of dough about the size of a golf balls, shape into a ball and place in pans. They should not touch each other. With a sharp knife cut a cross in the center of each bun. Let rise about 45 minutes. Heat oven to 400 degrees and bake about 14-16 minutes. Keep a watch. You want them light brown on outside, but done in the middle. Makes about 2 dozen.

Cool for 5 - 10 minutes. While still warm, glaze with following: 1 ½ cups powdered sugar, a little orange zest, orange juice or ½ & ½ (a mixture will do) add liquid until it’s kinda runny – a little thicker than kid’s cough syrup. Put buns on a round platter and drizzle glaze into the cross marks. Immediately eat four or five to test them. Give the rest away.

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