BYOB: Hot Cross Buns

As you probably guessed, I did make Hot Cross Buns last week. Thursday night I put together half a batch of the AB5 brioche dough -- subbing one cup of white whole wheat flour for a cup of the AP flour -- and set it in the fridge. I wasn't sure I wanted to make it all into buns so I made the brioche dough plain, as written. I decided to use half the batch for the buns and save the other half for whatever. I figured I could freeze it if inspiration failed me.

I wanted to have the buns for breakfast Saturday but I didn't want to have to wait for the dough to warm up and rise after shaping (or get up early enough to make that doable) so I thought I'd be clever and shape them the night before, then put them on the (cool) sunporch overnight.

I pulled out approximately half my dough (¼ batch) and kneaded in my goodies. I cut the lump into eight pieces, formed them into balls, and set them out on the Silpat-lined sheet pan. Then out on the deck they went.

Next morning, I brought them in to warm up while the oven preheated. They were looking more spread out than puffy, but I was hoping maybe they'd rise in the oven.

Nope. They didn't. I ended up with Hot Cross Discs. And since I was too lazy to make the icing for the cross, they were just Hot Discs. They tasted fabulous, though, and the texture was nice.

What went wrong? They may have over-risen and collapsed. Maybe the sunporch wasn't as cool as I thought. Good thing I had the other half of that dough in the fridge!

It took us a few (very few!) days to make that batch disappear and I was ready to go again. Monday I took the rest of the dough, kneaded in the goodies, formed the balls -- nine this time -- and set them in a 9x9 inch baking dish I'd sprayed with baking spray. They rose beautifully and I felt confident enough to snip the cross into the top of each bun.

They baked off without a hitch and were finished off with a honey butter glaze straight out of the oven, just as their flatter brethren had been. The lemon icing crosses were added once they cooled.

Results? Oh yeah, that'll work.

Here's what I added. It's only slightly modified from the AB5 version.

Hot Cross Bun Additions
For approximately ¼ batch of plain AB5 brioche dough.
Makes nine buns.
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 cup currants or raisins, soaked in hot water until plump, drained
1/8 cup dried apricots, cut into raisin-sized pieces, soaked in hot water until plump, drained
1/2 teaspoon orange zest, or a few drops of orange oil (not orange extract)
Honey Glaze: Melt approximately 2 Tablespoons honey and I Tablespoon butter just until butter melts. Stir well to combine.

Lemon Icing: Combine ½ cup confectioners sugar, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice, and either ¼ teaspoon lemon zest or a few drops of lemon oil (not lemon extract). Stir to combine. Adjust consistency with more confectioner's sugar or lemon juice, as needed.

Method: Knead the additions into a chilled 1 - 1½ pound piece of AB5 brioche dough (approximately ¼ batch). Cut into nine equal pieces (use a scale) and form into balls. Place balls in a 9x9 inch baking dish sprayed with baking spray (or lined with a square of parchment). Cover with a towel and let rise for an hour or until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

When buns have risen, snip a cross into the top of each using scissors. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until done. (Note: My oven is way off, so I have to use a thermometer to check for doneness. I baked them until the temp in the center bun was ~195 degrees)

Remove baking dish from oven and brush buns with honey glaze. Let buns cool in the baking dish, then pipe the lemon icing onto the snipped crosses using either a spoon, a plastic bag with one corner snipped off, a piping bag, or a parchment coronet. Whatever works.

p.s. Then try not to eat them all in one day. Good luck with that!

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