Spring is officially here and that means Easter is near. Although I am not a devout Christian, I have faith in God and maybe I didn't fast nor give up anything during this Lent month but I just go about doing everything within my means, no less and no more! But I do observe extra kindness and forgiveness.
I attended church this morning and I was surprised that it was full house as I have never seen 3/4 of the benches filled when I was there in the past Sundays. Perhaps in this hard economic times, people must still have faith and being around the community of fellow worshippers and listening to the preaches of God's words keeps the hope for everything bullish!
Hot cross buns is similar to dinner rolls in texture and taste and it is served throughout the Christian month of Lent & Easter. I once read from somewhere that the origins of these buns are actually not from Christianity itself but from the pagan era in England where worships of signs and objects were still practiced. I am always intrigued by the evolution of a religion and the conflicting beliefs and practices that surround it, primarily because it makes me think and really ponder on what is realistic, common sense and implausible. And living with a man of science who seems to believe that science makes more sense than religion adds to my curiosities!
I tweaked the original recipe of plain hot cross buns by using up a sweet potato that I bought more than 1 week ago which was lying on my countertop. In the midst of mixing everything, I forgot to include the raisins and I only realized after the dough was kneaded and let to rest and rise! The sweet potato added a very nice yellowish orange color to the buns and it yields a nice crust and velvety soft texture to the bun itself.
The dough itself must be allowed to rest and rise for at least 2 hours and I made mine the night before and let it rested, covered with cling film to keep the moisture in. It expanded more than 2 times its original size and I punched it down like other bread making process and from there, divided the dough into 15 balls weighing around 50gm each. You will need a rectangular sized deep dish baking pan for these buns and greased with butter before placing the buns inside. The buns were placed 1/2 inches apart and 3 in one row. They were then allowed to rest and expand again for 2 hours till all of them filled up the gaps between them and create a dome on the surface for the cross shape to be piped in. These buns are suitable for freezing and reheated in the oven anytime you need it. The buns turned out very good in texture but not sweet as I forgotten to add the raisins and I reduced the amount of sugar. They are good as afternoon snack buns too when drizzled with syrup and I added the poppy seeds for extra color.
1 sweet potato (around 400gm)
4 cups water
3-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp yeast
1 tsp cinnamon spice
1/2 tsp nutmeg spice
4 tbsp butter (1/4 cup) (room temperature)
1/2 cup of sweet potato water (warm)
1 tsp poppy seeds
6 tbsp all purpose flour
6 tbsp water
1)Clean and cut the sweet potato in chunks. Boil in the 4 cups of water for 20 mins till soft for mashing. Mash and leave aside. Reserve 1/2 cups of the boiling water.
2)Sift the flour, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg. Mix in the yeast and sugar.
3)Use hands to rub butter into the flour mixture till it resembles fine crumbs.
4)Add the mashed potato into the flour and butter mixture. Use a spatula as it gets very messy and slightly sticky. Put the mixture into the mixer bowl and use the hook attachment to knead for 5 mins.
5)Add in the sweet potato water slowly till all the mixture forms a dough.
6)Dust hands and the countertop with flour and take out the dough and knead for 5 mins. Sprinkle flour as you knead till the dough is no longer sticky. Scatter flour all over the bowl and shape the dough into a ball and let rest and rise for 2 hours till double the size. Cover with cling film.
7)Grease a deep dish baking pan with butter. Remove dough and punch down again. Divide and shape into 12 to 15 balls. Arrange 1/2 inches apart in the baking pan. Cover with cling film and let rest for another 2 hours.
8)Preheat oven to 400F. Mix the flour with the water to make paste. Spoon mixture into a small plastic bag and snip the corner. Pipe the cross shapes onto the buns. Sprinkle with poppy seeds.
9)Bake for 15 to 18 mins, rotating the pan at interval of 10 mins. Remove from oven and let cool.
Makes : 15