Updated: Feb 29
An accidental success.
Of course, Easter has been featuring heavily in all of our play over the last week or so. I don't know about you, but my toddler LOVES a hot cross bun, so she was super excited to make some of her own. "That's a super idea Mummy." At this point I have to confess, it's over to daddy. He's the dough expert. Leave me the cakes. So with Daddy adjourned for the school holidays and the rain pelting down outside, it seemed a good time to get on it.
Full disclosure, Daddy wasn't too happy
with these. He struggles with the imperfect and toddler-time activities tend to require acceptance of this. He likes the stickers on the right page of the sticker book, perfectly spherical buns and he got cross with himself when he was toddler distracted from checking on these in the oven, so he thinks they're a little too dark, but they taste delish. He's accidentally created a super snack. Not liking fruit that much, he ditched the default orange zest and apple chunks and replaced them with more spices and stem ginger. The result? A kind of light, almost pumpernickely cinnamon hot cross bun - the hot cross cinnabun. The boy's an accidental genius. Now working with dough and toddlers is not for everyone. It's not really possible to give the whole activity over to them if you want something edible at the end. Bread dough doesn't do well with extra pokes and prods. With all the rising and waiting you do need to be willing to give over the day and the cleanliness of your kitchen to go back and forth to the dough between other activities, but along with the recipe here I'll try and give you as many hints and tips as I can for making it manageable. My little one loved this today. It was real quality time with daddy, who works so hard he's not here as much as he really wants to be. Meanwhile she also did lots of sink play (washing dough off turned into a lot of filling and emptying fun), drawing and imaginative play in her tuff tray whilst repeatedly nipping back to the kitchen to see how much the dough had grown. It was a pretty messy kind of day, but a good one and so far mummy has eaten three delicious bun treats with three hot cups of tea. Win win win.
500g strong white bread flour
75g caster sugar
10g instant yeast
40g unsalted butter
120ml warm full-fat milk
120ml cool water
80g chopped mixed fruit - makes them sweeter than just adding sultanas
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon mixed spice 60g Glace Ginger, finely chopped or grated
To make the crosses
75g plain flour
Approx 5-7 tbsp water
For the glaze
75g apricot jam
1. Put the flour and spices into a large bowl with the salt and sugar on one side and the yeast on the other. (Let your small do the salt and sugar then you add the yeast) Add the butter, eggs, milk and half the water and gently mix. Continue to add the water, a little at a time, until you get a soft but not soggy dough.
2. Knead the dough on a floured surface for 5-10 minutes. When it's ready you'll notice that it forms a sort of skin. A little shiny. When this happens make one big round ball and pop it into a lightly oiled
bowl and cover. This is the first prove. Cover it in a tea towel and wait for it to double in size. This can take anything from an hour or two, you could even leave it three but I've never met a toddler that can wait this long. About an hour is just right to watch most of Mary Poppins and have a snack right?
3. Tip out the lovely plump dough, back onto your floured surface and then scatter over the dried fruit and sultanas. Knead them into the dough. Both of the kneading opportunities are super fun for little hands. Dough just feels great. Dough was one of my little girl's first words!
4. You now need to fold the dough in on
itself. Make sort of envelopes over and over again. Then separate it into 12 pieces and roll into balls - again a favourite moment for the toddler. Place them on lined baking trays. Cover either with a plastic bag or a lose piece of tin foil. Time for the second proof. The buns need to 'sleep' until they double in size.
In our case, we timed this to coincide with lunch and naps so when she got up in the afternoon she could get on with the crosses and baking.
5. Once the buns have grown and spring
back when you gently pod them, you're ready to make the paste for the cross decoration. Mix the flour and water to a paste. Using a piping bag with just the very end cut off, pipe crosses on the buns. If you don't have a piping bag you could just drizzle it with a teaspoon, just expect slightly wibblier cross marks. Bake at 200° for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Warm the apricot jam with a splash of water, then brush over the tops of the buns whilst warm.
Hot cross buns! Hot cross buns! One a penny, two a penny, Hot cross buns!