Hot Cross Buns
These lovely, subtly spiced, and lightly sweet buns are great at any time of the year! Serve with tea, or split, toast, and spread with butter. I tried to measure the amounts of flour and liquids I used (just for you guys!), but you might have to adjust based on the moisture in your flour/kitchen. You know. The instructions are really long, but that's just because I was feeling talkative. These are easy, easy, easy. Makes 12 buns.
For the starter:
3/4 cup warm water (not too hot! or you will kill the yeast)
1/4 cup soymilk (I used vanilla)
2 tsp yeast
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp sugar
Mix these ingredients together unthil thoroughly blended. Let the starter sit for 30-40 minutes. It should look bubbly.
For the dough:
About 4 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon, or to taste
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
3 oz. cold butter (I used Earth Balance) cut into small pieces
Zest of one lemon
Zest of one orange
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup dried fruit (currants are traditional, but I don't care for them and they are expensive, so I used lots of chopped dried apricots and dried cranberries, and a few token currants)
Mix the 3 1/2 cups flour, salt, sugar, zests, and spices in a large mixing bowl. Rub (or cut) the butter into the flour, as though you are making a pie crust. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture, and pour in the starter. Mix with a wooden spoon as much as you can, and then knead the dough, sprinkling in more flour as knead, until smooth, about 5-7 minutes. You probably won't need more than 4 cups of flour. This was a beautiful dough to need-- soft but didn't stick to the hands. When the dough is smooth, sprinkle the dried fruit over the top and knead a few more times to mix that in. Place in a warm place, cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap, and let rise for 1 1/2 - 2 hours, or until almost doubled in bulk.
When the dough is risen, divide into 12 pieces. Shape each piece into a roll. Cut an x in the top of each roll, using either a knife or scissors. I cut about halfway into the roll, but I think that was a bit to much-- I'd shoot for 1/3 or 1/4 of the way through the roll next time. But don't just score the top, because the x will close up as the rolls rise if you do that. Place the rolls on a greased cookie sheet, cover, and let rise in a warm place for 30 or 40 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450'F. Right before they go into the oven, mix together 2 tblsp flour with 2 tbsp water to form a paste. Pipe a little cross in each x right before the rolls go into the oven. (I thought this sounded gross, but you can't taste it at all-- it just helps the x to stand out. But you could easily skip this step.)
Bake the rolls for 12-15 mintues. Right before they are done, heat up 2 tbsps agave nectar/golden syrup/honey/simple syrup. Brush this on the rolls as soon as they come out of the oven.