I may be jinxing myself, but I think we’ve finally transitioned into spring. The last few days have convinced me, and in our little patch of woods, I’m seeing true harbingers: watercress in our spring-fed pool and trilliums, bloodroot, anemones and spring beauties all poking up through the leaves. The dandelions and wild onions are all over the place. Both nutritious wild edibles.
Meanwhile, we’re gearing up for Easter. One of my favorite yeast buns to make is hot cross buns. Now these aren’t extremely sweet, like a sweet roll (they’re a bun, remember), but just sweet enough to really enjoy with a cup of tea or glass of milk.
Legend has it that if you make yeasted hot cross buns for Good Friday and hang one up in the kitchen, you’ll have success with anything you make with yeast all year ‘round. That won’t be happening at my house!
Let the kids help. Granddaughter Eva loved making the cross decoration. You can also simply use the icing as a glaze over the whole bun.
1 pkg. (1/4 oz.) active dry yeast, regular or rapid rise
1 tablespoon plus 1/2 cup sugar, divided
1 cup warm milk (110° -115°)
1/4 cup softened butter
Couple dashes salt
1/2 to 1 cup raisins
1 large egg, room temperature
3-1/2 to 3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 375. In mixer bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in warm milk. Let stand for 5 minutes. It will foam up. Add butter, raisins, egg, salt and remaining sugar; beat until smooth.
On low speed, pour in enough flour to form soft dough – I used 3-1/2 cups. Turn onto very lightly floured surface (not too much flour or buns will be tough); knead until smooth like a baby’s bottom, about 5 minutes. I used the dough hook so avoided hand kneading and extra flour.
Place in sprayed or buttered bowl, turning once to coat top. Bless dough! Cover and let rise in warm place until doubled, 1 hour or more. Stick a finger in gently, if indentation remains, you’re good to go; if it springs back, it needs to raise more.
Punch dough down. Divide into 12 portions. Shape into balls.
Place in sprayed or buttered 13×9 pan. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 45 minutes.
Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden. Mine were done at 25 minutes.
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
4 tablespoons water or more if needed. Make a cross shape on each bun.
Tip from Rita’s kitchen:
Raising in fridge: As an experiment, I divided dough in half and let half raise at room temperature and half in fridge covered overnight. The dough from the fridge took longer to raise, but both batches came out great.
Hawaiian roll clone
Leave out raisins and icing and you have a roll that to me tastes like store-bought Hawaiian rolls. The crust is not as soft, but the sweet flavor is there.
Back in the old days yeast came in the form of moist little cakes and had to be refrigerated. Now we can buy dry yeast in the store. It comes in many forms, from regular yeast to rapid rise to bread machine yeast. All easy to use.
Is it fresh?
To make sure your yeast can still leaven, add a little to some warm water with a pinch of sugar. It should foam up within minutes. If not, toss it. Yeast kept in the freezer stays fresh longer.