Imagine waking up to the smell of these babies on Easter morning! There is something about the combination of blueberries and fresh orange zest that takes these Blueberry & Orange Hot Cross Buns to a whole new level!
If you've been following my blog for while then you know I love baking my own buns to celebrate Easter and usually I bake my Heavenly Hot Cross Buns, a more traditional recipe which I love but this year I wanted to bring something a little different to the family Easter gathering. This year, I didn't want to reinvent the wheel, I just wanted to bring some new flavors together. So I spent the day baking away in the kitchen hoping to create a new and exciting flavor and I am happy to say - mission accomplished!
When the aroma of these Blueberry & Orange Hot Cross Buns waft through your home everyone will think you are a true domestic goddess! The key ingredients are the dried blueberries in place of the sultanas, fresh orange zest, fresh orange juice and a touch of rum to re-hydrate the blueberries, delicious mixed peel and warming spices and baked to perfection!
These buns are also perfect to gift in a little bag with a few mini chocolate eggs - so cute!
If you have your reservations about cooking with yeast, rest assured that today's yeast is a lot easier to work with and if you follow the tips below your breads will always turn out perfect!
Always ensure your liquid is the right temperature for the yeast and that you add some sugar for it to feed/ferment properly.
Using a thermometer helps a lot unless you are a seasoned expert because if your liquid is too cold or too hot the yeast will not do it's thing and your bread won't rise.
Greasing your dough hook (if using a machine) with oil before you start kneading your dough will ensure it removes easily off the hook once ready.
If after 10 minutes your yeast is not bubbly and frothy don't even bother going ahead with the recipe because your yeast isn't working and your bread won't rise. My advice would be to get some fresh yeast, ensure your temperatures are right and start again - it will save you a lot of heartache!
Ensure your dough gets a nice rise in a nice, warm, draft free environment. An oven that has just been heated a little and then turned off is ideal or if you are a having a lovely warm day, just pop it outside, covered of course, and let it do it's thing.
Bread flour is best for recipes like this because of it's gluten content which allows you to achieve the right texture and consistency.
Dried cranberries also work a treat in this recipe but you can omit the fruit and/or mixed peel if you like from this recipe and still enjoy a nice spiced bun
You can add 3/4 cup white, milk or dark choc-chips and/or 1/2 cup chopped nuts (at the stage you would add the dried fruit)
If you notice your bread top browning early in the baking process and are worried about possible burning, you can cover with foil during your bake to protect your tops and continue baking until cooked.
The traditional way to enjoy hot cross buns is warm or toasted with some fresh butter but if you are a cheese freak like me then you can also enjoy them toasted with melted cheese (and even ham if you want to go nuts) - it sounds weird but the sweet/salty flavor is truly awesome! These also make an excellent base for a rather fabulous bread pudding.
Last but not least - HAPPY EASTER TO YOU AND YOUR FAMILY!
YOU WILL NEED
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
1 tablespoon caster sugar
3/4 cup skim milk + 1/2 cup skim milk (you can also use whole or lactose free milk too)
1 orange (zest and juice are needed)
2 tablespoons rum (optional)
50g | 1.7 ounces | 3+1/2 tablespoons melted butter
3 ½ cups bread flour OR 3 ½ cups plain flour + ¾ tablespoon gluten (plus extra flour if needed)
3/4 cup | 120g | 4 ounces dried blueberries
1/2 cup | 80g | 3 ounces mixed peel
1/3 cup caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2+1/2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon cinnamon powder
1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup water for crosses (plus more if needed)
2/3 cup water
2 tablespoons caster sugar
In a small saucepan warm ¾ cup of milk to 46°C (115°F). Pour into a jug or small mixing bowl and add the yeast and sugar. Give a good brisk stir (10-20 seconds) to make sure it is all well combined. Cover and set aside for 5-10 minutes or until frothy.
Grate/zest the whole orange (only the skin not the white pith) and reserve for later and then juice the orange into a bowl, add the rum and add the blueberries and set aside.
Add the ½ cup cold milk, melted butter and egg to the yeast mix, whisk together until well combined.
Grease your dough hook of your stand mixer and then add the flour, mixed peel, caster sugar, salt, mixed spice, cinnamon, cardamom, orange zest and DRAINED blueberries (do not add the remaining liquid).
Slowly pour the milk/yeast mix into your flour and turn your stand mixer on low to combine the ingredients together while scraping down the bowl from time to time to ensure everything is well combined.
Continue kneading and turning up your mixer to medium speed for 6-8 minutes OR knead by hand only for about 7-10 minutes. If your dough seems slightly “wet” that is okay. You know it is ready when the dough "comes together" into a ball and you can feel a good "stretch" to the dough. If for any reason your dough is too wet after kneading for the full 6-8 minutes continue adding small amounts of flour - no more than 1/8 of a cup at a time, kneading well between each addition until the dough comes together nicely into a ball.
Place dough in a large well-greased bowl covered with plastic wrap and set aside in a warm place for 1½ hours or until doubled in size.
Turn out the risen dough onto a floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes. Separate into 12 rolls and place the rolls into a well-greased 21cm x 21cm/8 inch x 8 inch OR 30cm x 21cm/12 inch X 8 inch baking tray/dish.
Cover and set aside in a warm place for another 30 minutes to rise and double in size.
Combine ½ cup flour with ¼ cup water to make a workable paste for the crosses. If there is not enough water in the flour add a little more water until you have a thick paste (like toothpaste consistency). Place into a small piping bag or resealable sandwich bag and cut a small hole in one corner to pipe the paste in a cross shape across your buns. (You will not need all the mix, that’s fine.)
Bake at 200°C/390°F for 5 minutes and then reduce to 160°C/320°F for another 20-25 minutes.
For the glaze, take a small saucepan and place the sugar into boiling water on medium-high heat and allow the sugar to dissolve. Boil for a minute or two and then take off the heat.
Brush the hot glaze over the warm buns and allow to cool slightly before serving.
Serve warm or gently toasted with fresh butter - yum!
MAKES 12 LARGE HEAVENLY BUNS