Sunday, April 24, 2011

Croation Easter Cake

I love the idea of traditions. My family and I have a few of our own, but most of them don't really involve food, especially baked goods. Now that I've become more active in the kitchen, I've been wanting to start new ones. At Thanksgiving dinner, I decided that the stuffing I made last year must become a tradition. Everyone loved the dish and I can't imagine another stuffing recipe that would satisfy my parents. For future Christmas dinners, I am on a mission to make the perfect Bûche de Noël so it'll become a tradition. A few weeks before Easter, I noticed a lot of recipes for Hot Cross Buns appearing on Foodgawker, so I thought why not make that a new tradition? It was so difficult to pick one recipe out of the hundreds that appeared. I just wanted a simple recipe with not a lot of mix-ins. I'll go for complicated later, so I landed on this one.

Hot Cross Buns Hot Cross Buns
Hot Cross Buns Hot Cross Buns

The recipe is called a cake, but I made them into traditional hot cross bun shapes. You can also divide the dough into three equal parts and make a braid. Not at all a difficult dough to work with. It's not sticky so you don't get all of it on your hands. I think my perception of Hot Cross Buns were basically scones but with yeast, so they didn't turn out as sweet as I had expected. I should find a bakery that sells Hot Cross Buns and see what they're supposed to taste like. The zests of the orange and the lemon were definitely flavor boosters. I would add more next time. Instead of using cranberries, I think I will plump up some raisins and add a little less into the buns. I do have other recipes I would love to make, so next year, one of those will be made before I make these again.

Hot Cross Buns

By the way, I don't have special piping tools, but I was still able to make these cross shapes on the buns with Ziploc bags! Either for the flour paste or for the sugar glaze, pour into a Ziploc bag, seal it, and snip a small piece of the corner off. Then pipe! So easy. I also don't have a pastry brush, so I used the back of a spoon. Works just as well.

Glaze for Hot Cross Buns

I hope all of you are enjoying your traditional Easter festivities. Last year, my housemates and a few other friends stuffed lots and lots of chocolate into plastic eggs. We then proceeded on an egg hunt and ate all the chocolates inside. There was a lot of candy-eating because a housemate gives up sweets for Lent every year and after Easter, she can finally eat them! (I won that egg hunt, by the way.) This year, only two of us are back at the house so far so we don't have any special egg hunts planned.

Croation Easter Cake [Makes 16 buns]
Adapted from Honest Cooking

- 5 cups (500 g) all purpose flour, sifted
- 2 tsp (7 g) active dry yeast
- 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 7 tbsp (100 g) butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 1 lemon, zested
- 1 orange, juiced and half of it zested
- 5 oz (150 ml) warm milk
- 1 cup (100 g) dry cranberries
- 1 egg yolk

- 4 tbsp flour
- 4 tbsp water

- 4 tsp milk
- 12 tbsp powdered sugar

1. In a small bowl, combine dry yeast with 1 tsp sugar and 150 ml warm milk. Let rise for 5 minutes.
2. In a another bowl, combine cranberries with orange juice and leave for 1 hour.
3. In a large bowl, add sifted flour, sugar, yeast mixture, melted butter, eggs, lemon zest, and orange zest. Knead until the dough forms, it should be on the soft side. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 1 hour.
4. Drain cranberries (don’t discard orange juice, drink it) and knead them into the risen dough. Divide it into 3 equal parts and roll into long, equal rolls. Entwine them to make braid. Here you can also divide the dough into equal pieces and make hot cross buns. Place on baking sheet covered with parchment paper and brush with egg yolk. Let rise for 20 minutes.
5. If making hot cross buns, stir together the 4 tbsp flour and water. Place into Ziploc bag, snip off a piece of the corner, and pipe cross shapes.
5. Preheat oven to 355F and bake for 30 minutes. While it is baking, stir together the 4 tsp milk and powdered sugar for the glaze. Place into Ziploc bag, snip off a piece of the corner, and pipe cross shapes onto the buns. Let cool.

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