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Fruity not-cross buns

April 7, 2012

As much as I love fruity spiced breads, the thought of attempting to make some has always been a bit scary. This is coming from someone who makes their own bread, pretty much exclusively (thanks to this book). The main reason they’re so scary is that home made hot cross buns always seem to go kinda hard and dry the next day, and I simply can’t eat that much spiced fruit bread in a day, given how rich it normally is. Well, if this has plagued you too, and you can’t be bothered piping the crosses on your buns (or want a good ol recipe for spicy fruit buns for any time of year), this recipe is for you (although I’m not going to be upset if you do pipe them with crosses either).

These buns are soft the next day, toast up crunchy rather than crispy, and stay very moist the next day thanks to the applesauce (no, I haven’t used it all up yet, are you kidding me?). This recipe also doesn’t require the world’s supply of spices (just cinnamon), and the method and ingredients are also a bit flexible – if you don’t have apricot jam, use honey or golden syrup, or even just sugar. You can add sultanas or raisins if you want, or chocolate chip if you’re feeling all new-age.

The one warning worth mentioning: this was pretty experimental, and to be honest I don’t even quite remember how much flour I even put in these. Don’t let that frighten you too much though, since breadmaking is quite dependent on your microclimate anyway (also how wet your applesauce is, etc), so it should be about feel rather than blindly following a recipe. Luckily it’s Easter, so you’ve got a whole weekend to try these babies.

These also coincidentally happen to be vegan, until I slathered them with butter (have yet to try cream cheese, which would also be heavenly). Your vegan loved ones can use margarine though. A little fruity preserve and you’re away (I used apricot jam, but also have some quince paste I’m going to try with them). Enjoy in the sunshine if possible, and have a very wonderful weekend :)

Fruity not-cross buns

A guide – makes about 9 generously sized buns. Wouldn’t recommend making this into a loaf.

  • 1/2 c water, just boiled
  • 1c unsweetened applesauce
  • 4 Tbs jam (I used apricot) or marmalade, without setting agents in*, or 2Tbs honey, sugar, golden syrup, or maple syrup
  • about 1 tsp blackstrap molasses or cocoa, for colour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbs neutral tasting oil
  • 1 heaping tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3 c plain white flour (high grade/bread flour), or 2 3/4 c plain flour + 1/4 gluten
  • 1/2 c wholemeal flour (or sub with about 3/4c plain white flour), plus more for shaping
  • optional: whatever other dried chopped fruit you want, spices etc
*basically you want a fairly loose jam, not the jelly-like stuff
Mix all ingredients except flour and yeast in a large bowl. Pop your finger into the mixture – it should be no warmer than body temperature, if too hot let cool for a bit.
Mix yeast into the wet ingredients, then mix in the white flour until a very wet sloppy batter forms. Keep stirring for about five minutes to develop the gluten. Add the wholemeal flour and stir through until. The dough should be wet and sticky, but keep in mind you’ll need to shape it into rolls later. At this stage though you, err on the side of wet as you’ll be using a lot of flour to shape the rolls later.
Cover your bowl with a plate or pot lid, making sure the dough has a small gap to breathe (as long as it’s not airtight you’ll be fine). Let rise in a warm place until double in size (this can take ages depending on the temperature, but if you need to go to bed for example just chuck it in the fridge to shape the next day, the dough will last overnight in the fridge, and be better for your digestion too apparently).
Once you’re ready to shape the dough, put about two cups of water on to boil. Grease a baking tray liberally, or use a silicon or reusable non stick baking sheet. Arrange one rack in the centre of your oven, and another below it.
Dust the top of the dough liberally with wholemeal flour, and scrape it into a large ball with a spatula. Dust with more flour if needed (the dough will be very wet and sticky). Cut a mandarin sized piece of dough off and shape into a ball by stretching one side of the dough and tucking the ends into the bottom, keep doing this until the dough begins to be a little firmer. You may need to dip it in flour as you shape to prevent it sticking, so keep a bowl with some flour in it beside you. Place buns beside each other, just touching, on a well greased tray.
Pour the just boiled water into a roasting dish. Place on the lowest rack in your oven, and place your tray of buns on the centre rack. Close oven door, and heat your oven to 100C for ONE minute. Let the buns luxuriate in there for about ten minutes before checking on them. They should have almost doubled in size, so that there is barely any gap in the corners. If not, let them sit in there until they’re almost there, then remove them from the oven along with the roasting dish of water. Crank the oven up to 180C (350F). Once it’s up to temperature, pop your buns in for about twenty minutes before checking on them – the tops should start developing dark brown patches, and the undersides should be browned. If not let them keep cooking. Once at the brown stage, pinch a bit of dough from the middle and taste to see if it’s done – if not pop back into the oven with the heat turned off and it should finish cooking with the remaining heat. Keep in mind they are fairly moist, but the dough should be still cooked!
Cool on a rack and eat while still slightly warm, or toast halved buns.

Foodie fave

What used to be a sad little shopping centre in Christchurch has now become a serious boutique foodie destination – The Colombo is not only home to a brand new J’aime les Macarons, but a Coopers & Co. deli stocking my favourite pastries in the city, a fresh juice bar, She Chocolat, a promising looking sandwich place and one of my new favourite burger places, Burgers & Beers. There are plenty of other places around too, so if you’re ever planning to visit the city and want to visit a shopping centre that has local businesses in it, this is the place.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. April 7, 2012 3:27 pm

    A generous spread on these warm babies would be right up my alley. Happy Easter!

  2. April 8, 2012 2:51 am

    Mm! What a great hot cross bun alternative. So nice to hear of Christchurchs boutique food stores. I really wish I’d spent some time there before leaving New Zealand – sounds amazing !!

  3. April 8, 2012 8:41 am

    These look so good- and it’s nice to see some experimenting with the flavours (it gives me inspiration!). Happy Easter Zo!

  4. April 8, 2012 9:46 am

    Zo they look great! Love the inclusion of applesauce and jam. Beautiful!

  5. peasepudding permalink
    April 9, 2012 3:29 pm

    Fruit buns are always best toasted a few days old! You must be due to make ore apple sauce with all the apples in season ;0)

  6. April 9, 2012 6:49 pm

    Last Easter I made bread pudding from stale hot cross buns… I’ve crossed the divide!

  7. April 9, 2012 8:31 pm

    L & G: Happy Easter to you too!

    C: I’m sure Canada has far more to boast about :D Look forward to seeing it through your lens!

    T: There’s not a lot of baking that is avoiding being applesuaced at the moment hehe. The jam was a pretty good addition though, as I imagine people in the southern hemisphere will have plenty of fruity preserves they can use!

    P: True, although these are so moist I quite liked them toasted on the day too. I think we’ve finally stopped making applesauce, but only because the freezer is full!

    S: Mmm, the best bread to use in bread pudding.

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