Thursday, March 15, 2012

Buns in the Oven

I hope you are marinating your corned beef from last year’s recipe.  Mine is right now, as we ‘speak’ slowly braising away in my crockpot at home.  I actually managed to corn it for the appropriate amount of time this year… I know I may be jumping the gun on serving the corned beef tonight rather than on the 17th, but why not right?  So this year, I have for you a hot cross buns recipe.  It comes from the cookbook as I got from a friend during the Smithsonian Folklife Festival.  I shared with you her fish pie recipe.  But, I neglected to tell you about her. 
Joyce McRaye was a presenter during the Scotland exhibit in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival during the summer of 2003.  Imagine Mrs. Doubtfire.  Yup that’s Joyce.  And although this may sound corny, her and I became instant friends during her two weeks spent with me in a tent kitchen on the National Mall.  And here’s where I get really corny; in the Anne of Green Gables series (I know, it’s silly but I love them) there’s a phrase that sums it up nicely: The race that knows Joseph.  In the books they don’t really even explain it, but there are some people in life that when you meet them you just know they are a kindred soul. 
Joyce may have been 50 years my senior but we were kindred souls.  We got scolded multiple times for giggling too loudly behind the stage when other people were presenting.  And when I had to interview her during a cooking segment we would just laugh and tell each other inside jokes –it was not my best interview. 
As a parting gift Joyce gave me her apron, oven mitt, and a cookbook she had helped develop with the Scottish Women’s Rural Association.  I have consulted that cookbook many times for various recipes.  And the oven mitt is the only one I use, every day.  The wonderful thing about the cookbook however is the bluntness with which the recipes are written.  As a rural Scottish woman you were expected to know some basics and these recipes are mostly just ideas in paragraph form for various dishes.
I decided this year for St. Patrick’s Day to make hot cross buns.  I know using a Scottish cookbook seems a bit heretical, but what the heck right? The buns were hearty with a nice flavor.  Not at all like the rolls you see in the grocery store around this time of year.  If you need something to fill you up prior to imbibing gallons of green beer on Saturday, this is a great way to get things started.

Scottish Hot Cross Buns
The recipe calls for the milk to be ‘blood-warm’. Which I love. You would never see a temperature of an ingredient having anything to do with blood or death here in America. But a Scottish rural woman would know exactly how warm that would be, having probably slaughtered many an animal for dinner. I will spare you and call the temperature lukewarm. Also, this recipe is in grams – there are some conversion tools online if you don’t have a scale.

250ml lukewarm milk
¾ package yeast
2 Tb butter
1 Tb sugar
2 eggs, divided
½ tsp. salt
350 grams flour, plus more for kneading
50 grams golden raisins
50 grams candied orange peel, chopped (if you have lemon or lime, that’s fine too)
1 dash cinnamon
1 pinch all spice
1 pinch ground cloves

For the Glaze:
2 parts powdered sugar to one part orange juice

Dissolve the yeast in half of the milk, add sugar and let sit for about 5 minutes. Melt the butter in the remaining milk and add to the yeast along with the salt and one egg. Stir together to break up the egg, and then add in the flour. As the dough comes together, move onto a floured surface and knead for about five minutes, or until the dough is smooth and only slightly tacky.

Place dough in a clean bowl and loosely cover with a kitchen towel. Allow to rise for about 45 minutes, or until doubled in size. Once rise, punch down the dough and add in raisins, candied peel and spices. Gently knead together; you may have to push in any escaping raisins or bits of peel.

Cut dough into 8 equal pieces and form into balls. Place in a parchment paper lined 9x13 pan, cover loosely with a towel and allow to double, about an hour.

Preheat oven to 450°. Beat the remaining egg with a tablespoon of water. Brush the buns with the egg prior to baking. Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through until golden brown on top.

While the buns are baking whisk together the orange juice and sugar. Once buns are cooked and cooled slightly, brush lightly with glaze, and if you are so inclined drizzle a thicker x over the tops of the buns.

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