I think I’ve mentioned before, that I’ve started baking with my children.
At least once a week, if not more, the oldest and I are putting together some yummy concoction – while my youngest cheers us on (okay, he usually is sitting in his seat at the kitchen table munching on a snack – but he’s working with us in spirit, I can tell). I really thought this was making an impression on my kiddos.
That was, until dinner the other night. My oldest had been studying Nursery Rhymes in Preschool and had learned the rhyme, Hot Cross Buns. The class had also made some buns – though my son was quick to clarify that they were the frozen kind (of course they were, I thought, — if I was making buns with over a dozen preschoolers, you better believe they’d be the frozen kind, too.) He looked very sweetly at his Dad, and asked, “Daddy, can you and I make real Hot Cross Buns together sometime?”
Seriously, dagger through the heart.
He didn’t even consider asking me. Apparently, in his head, Dad is still his go-to cooking person, and I’m still the one that uses the microwave. Awesome.
I guess I could’ve seen this as a time to give up. To feel sorry for myself.
But nope, not me.
I saw this as a challenge.
Hot Cross Buns, from Martha Stewart
12 T (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 c plus 1 T milk
2 packages active dry yeast
1/2 c granulated sugar
2 t plus one pinch salt
3/4 t ground cinnamon
3/4 t freshly grated nutmeg
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
5 1/2 c all-purpose, flour plus more for dusting
1 1/3 c currants
1 large egg white
2 c confectioners’ sugar
2 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
Generously butter a large bowl. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, heat 1 cup milk until it is warm to touch.
Pour warm milk into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the dough hook. With mixer on low, add yeast, granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons salt, melted butter, cinnamon, nutmeg, and beaten eggs.
With mixer on low, add flour, 1 cup at a time, until a soft, slightly sticky dough forms around the dough hook, about 3 minutes. Continue kneading, scraping down hook and sides of bowl as necessary until smooth, about 4 minutes longer. Add currants, and knead until combined, about 30 seconds.
Turn dough out onto a heavily floured surface. Knead by hand to evenly distribute currants, about 1 minute.
Shape dough into a ball, and place in the buttered bowl; turn ball to coat with butter, and cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap. Let dough rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour 20 minutes.
Generously butter an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet. Turn dough out onto work surface, and knead briefly to redistribute the yeast. Divide dough into 24 equal pieces, about 2 ounces each. Shape pieces into tight balls, and place on baking sheet, spaced 1/2 inch apart. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place until touching and doubled in bulk, 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Heat oven to 375 degrees, with rack positioned in center. To make egg wash, whisk together egg white, 1 tablespoon water, and pinch of salt in a small bowl; brush tops of buns with egg wash. Using very sharp scissors or a buttered slicing knife, slice a cross into the top of each bun. Transfer pan to oven, and bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack to cool.
Make glaze: In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon milk, confectioners sugar, and lemon juice. Pipe or ladle glaze over buns, and serve.
That very night, I invited my oldest to make some buns with me.
Everything started off great. We melted the butter and waited for it to cool, warmed our milk, and started mixing our ingredients…and this is what it looked like:
Obviously, this mixture did not look right. But we forged on anyways. Adding the flour was a good thing (Side note: can anyone please explain how I always end up wearing black on days I bake?). It changed this crazy soupy mess into an actual dough.
Now it was during this flour-adding process that I got a little confused. Add flour one cup at a time…after three minutes it should be sticky?? Three minutes after all the flour was added or three minutes after you started? I’m not sure how it happened, but I ended up kneading the dough for quite a while, as I kept thinking we were done adding flour. But then we needed to add more – and then had to re-knead it in. It was a vicious circle, I tell you.
Oh, and we didn’t have any currants, so I substituted raisins. (Yes, I like raisins in breads, just not in cookies.)
Anyways, the dough ended up looking fine. It rose, and then we divided it up to make our dough balls. Those rose until they were touching, and I snipped at the tops to make some traditional crosses in the middle.They baked away and viola…
Now, I could end my story here, and you’d think all was well, but really, it wasn’t.
As they cooled, the unfinished edges that were stuck together started to get crusty. I quickly moved them all to a ziplock bag, and didn’t think too much of it. But the next morning, when we went to eat one for breakfast, they were completely dried out – not just the edges, but inside, too.
They were basically inedible – even when I tried heating one in the microwave with some butter inside.
We ended up throwing out the bunch – with only three having been eaten.
So, I wonder if I kneaded them too much, which caused the dryness? Or that the original wet ingredients didn’t mix so well? I’m really not sure…but I don’t think we’ll make these again.
My oldest was happy with the one he ate, and I was happy that we got to bake together.
I’m crossing my fingers, though, that next time, maybe, he’ll ask me first.