a new April Fool’s Day tradition

April 1, 2012 § 2 Comments

VERY LOCAL OMELET (3-mile eggs, Mark’s chèvre, Jay Hill Farm’s chard and spring onions, garden chives and parsley, Mo’s bacon) served with my Hot Cross buns and a Virgin Mary

Looking at this bright sunny photo, you might think we moved back to southern California. Nope, fooled ya! We’re still in Boulder, but it feels like the weather has moved here from SoCal. March set a record for high temperatures and low snowfall (almost nothing in the month that we expect to get most of our snow on the Front Range). I spent a good deal of time out in the garden, a few days in shorts, when normally my activities would be indoors and include trying to stay warm and dry. I can’t complain about getting a break from winter without having to travel, but I’m actually looking forward to getting some rain soon.

I did squeeze in a little of my own baking between challenge baking and gardening tasks…

Our “house” sourdough with mixed grain flours, apple pie and orange currant emmer scones (I froze some for later so we didn’t gain 5 pounds apiece).

And some cooking with Phil manning the grill (yup, it’s been warm)…

Grilled garlic-rosemary lamb and potatoes, shrimp risotto with peas and red pepper (locally frozen), and “Steak-for-Phil Night” with Hana patiently waiting for something yummy to hit the deck.

Finally, I did bake the Hot Cross buns for Mellow Bakers’ first Hamelman Bread challenge yesterday. His recipe used a unusually liquid sponge to get the dough started. It’s a somewhat rich sweet dough made from milk (no water), and included a couple ounces of butter, an egg, freshly ground allspice (I really liked that addition), and a pretty hefty load of currants, plus traditionally, candied lemon or orange peel which I didn’t have or make. I simply substituted the zest of a lemon which gave a nice fragrance without more sweetness, although I will plan ahead and candy some peel next time. The mixing technique was interesting because you combined all of the final dough ingredients including the butter and egg, before you added any liquid which was all in the sponge. I wasn’t sure what to expect as far as gluten development from adding ingredients in this order, and it took several minutes for the dough to finally grab the dough hook so it could be effectively kneaded in the mixer. It was a little on the dry side after I added the currants (they had probably been in the cupboard a little too long), so I finished kneading those in by hand. My temperatures were a little cool, so I allowed some extra time for both the bulk fermentation and proofing the buns, and I skipped the light fold since my dough was on the firm side and had plenty of gluten strength.

My sister who does live in southern California just started to teach herself how to make bread by hand (instead of in the bread machine which she’s done for years). I got her both of the Mellow Bakers challenge bread books for her birthday and to encourage her baking (hopefully I haven’t scared her off). I’m sure we’ll both have occasions to appreciate the “mellow approach” when we get busy with other things. Oh, so why I mention this, is that my copy of Bread had a different crossing paste recipe than hers. The ingredients were just flour, oil and water – ick! She gave me the recipe in the updated edition which uses butter, milk, vanilla, sugar, lemon peel and flour (I skipped the egg because I reduced the recipe x 1/4) – yum! All in all, I was pleased with how these turned out. The aroma and flavor from the allspice had a good intensity, the texture was pleasantly chewy from the firm dough, and although some of the currants popped out when I portioned and shaped the buns, I liked the generous measure. The last two buns were even good day old with brunch this morning.

The sponge just after mixing and after proofing for about 40 minutes.

Final dough with all ingredients except for liquid; after adding and mixing in sponge.

After several minutes on low speed the dough finally grabs the dough hook but is still rough; add currants/raisins and lemon zest (in place of candied peel) towards the end of kneading.

Beginning and end of bulk rise (1 1/2 hours in my cool kitchen).

Portion slightly larger than 2 oz. and shape into buns; cover to proof another 1 1/2 hours.

Updated sweet crossing paste ready to pipe.

Pipe in one direction first, then turn pan to finish the crosses; paste holds a nice string for a neat cross pattern. You can see Hana’s forefeet peeking out from under the rotated pan. She’s hoping I’ll drip some paste on the floor for her to taste.

The buns brown very quickly but keep them in the oven for the minimum time to ensure doneness. These have just been brushed with the simple syrup for a sweet shiny (and sticky) finish.

First bites show a nice crumb and generous fruit. I substituted 2 oz. of the white flour with whole wheat and could increase to 25% with a slight increase of milk for the extra absorption of moisture from the bran. I’ll probably make these again next weekend for Easter Sunday.

My sister’s Hot Cross buns. Nice pic sis!

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§ 2 Responses to a new April Fool’s Day tradition

  • Those bus look great! I always shy away from the flour paste crosses on the top, but I may reconsider. What book did you get your recipe from?

  • Abby says:

    Those look great…I remember how much we enjoyed them. And I also remember being so happy that my book had the newer (sweeter) crossing paste! 😉 So glad you found the Mellow Bakers!

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