I've hunted high and low, far and wide for a good hot cross bun recipe, one that felt close enough to what I remember eating as a kid. After much trial and error, I reached out to Edd Kimber at The Boy Who Bakes who I had the pleasure of meeting last month in San Francisco. Edd was in town with the editors from Bake From Scratch and we got to hangout and bake with the one and only Alice Medrich. Edd sent me his recipe to try out and it is absolutely easy to follow and work with. The texture of the buns reminded me of the buns I used to go every year with my grandfather to pick up at the bakery.Read More
You know, you're in good hands when you read a cookbook and it's full of useful tips that make you feel adventurous yet safe. That's exactly how I feel every time, I open Julia Turshen's cookbook, Small Victories. Throughout the book, Julia shares her love for cooking but she walks you through each recipe with tips on how to make each dish your own. And that's exactly what I did with these jam buns. The basic bun recipe stays the same but you can switch the fillings and make them sweet or savory to suit your needs.
Besides, Julia's recipes for tasty things such as fried chicken, kimchi fried rice, and her chocolate raspberry cake, there's another part of this book, that I love; the "Seven Lists"! These lists include fun and creative ideas on what to do to when cooking and entertaining. She includes ideas on what to do with pizza dough, leftover chicken, chickpeas among many other things. One central theme but many ideas and tips on how to be successful in the kitchen without too much fuss and true to its name this book is full of small victories in every way possible!
Through this wonderful book, Julia is also taking a moment to raise awareness for childhood hunger by participating in a fundraiser with No Kid Hungry to help make food accessible for every kid. This is what Julia has to say and I think she's pretty spot on which is why I've teamed up with her and a bunch of other talented folk to help get the word out! "This cookbook, like most cookbooks, assumes that whoever is reading it has access to food and not only the desire, but also the time, energy, and means to cook. How great would it be if that were the case for everyone? I firmly believe that if you have the privilege of eating however much you want whenever you want, you should spend some time ensuring that others have the same opportunity."
To learn more about what you can do to participate, visit No Kid Hungry for more details. And as always, thank you!
masala chai fig buns (from Julia Turshen's Small Victories, Chronicle Books , 2016)
makes : 12 buns
3/4 cup (180ml) whole milk
2 1/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
2 large eggs
3 1/4 cups (390g) all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons (55g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (200g) fig jam
1/4 cup boiling water
2 darjeeling tea bags
1/4 cup (30g) powdered sugar
1/2 cup (115g) crème fraîche
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ginger powder
1. In a small saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk until it reaches body temperature. Transfer the milk to a large bowl and stir in the yeast and let it sit for 5 minutes, until it turns frothy.
2. Crack one of the eggs into a small bowl and beat with a fork. Add the beaten egg to the milk-yeast mixture, along with flour, granulated sugar, salt and butter. Use a wooden spoon to mix until the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl.
3. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface, shape the dough into a large ball and knead it gently by pressing it with the heel of your hand and pushing it away from you, then immediately pulling it back, folding the top of the dough back on itself. Turn the dough clockwise a little bit each time you push and pull it so it gets evenly worked, knead for about 5 minutes, until the dough gets soft yet solid. Put the dough back in the large bowl and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Let it sit in a warm spot until it doubles in volume, about 1 hour.
4. While the dough is resting, pour the boiling water over the tea bags in a small bowl and allow to steep for 10 minutes. Squeeze the tea bags and collect the reserve liquid. You should have about 2 to 3 tablespoons of liquid left behind, mix this into the jam and keep aside until ready to use.
4. Return the dough to a lightly floured surface and roll it out using a rolling pin into a large ovalish rectangle measuring roughly 18inX12in. Spread the tea infused jam over the surface of the dough in an even layer using an offset spatula leaving a 1/2 inch border. Start to roll the dough up tightly so you end up with an 18 inch rope. Cut the rope into 12 parts of equal thickness.
5. Line a baking sheet or 9 inch tart/pie pan with parchment paper. Arrange the buns spiral-jam-sided up on the baking sheet snugly next to each other. Cover the buns loosely with plastic wrap and let them rise at room temperature for 1 hour. Then transfer to the refrigerator and let them rest overnight. The next day before baking, let the buns rest at room temperature for 1 hour before baking.
6. Preheat the oven to 350F. Crack the remaining egg into a small bowl and whisk with 1 tablespoon of water. Uncover the buns and brush them with the egg mixture. Bake in the preheated oven until browned and the exposed jam is caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes.
7. While the buns are baking, prepare the crème fraîche frosting. Mix the sugar, crème fraîche, cardamom, pepper and ginger with a spoon. Remove the buns from the oven and drizzle the crème fraîche over the buns. Serve the warm buns immediately.
Before we get to these delicious caramelized apple and coconut sticky buns, I need to announce the winner of the giveaway for the Smitten with Squash cookbook by Amanda Paa. Kelli who made a fall themed strudel with butternut squash, caramelized onions and kale is the winner of this giveaway. Kelli, please shoot me an email with your details so I can have your book sent out to you at abrowntable [at] gmail [dot] com.
As a kid, when I thought I would someday enroll in culinary school, I also harbored a not-so-secret desire to become a pastry chef. Pastry chefs are like magicians (or more appropriately culinary scientists) in my head. They come up with wondrous edible marvels that require a good knowledge of chemistry and food both of which make the inner geek in me rather happy. That desire didn't pan out as I would have wished but then this blog came about and now I find myself baking sticky buns at home!
Sticky buns are definitely an indulgent treat however, if I am going to make a batch at home, I like to have them stuffed up with something other than cinnamon and sugar. I decided to fill the swirls in these buns with little bits of apple and golden raisins enveloped with the delicious flavor of coconut. There's a little bit of applesauce to bring all the flavors together in the filling with a hint of cinnamon, all in all I think these are great to serve at a fall inspired brunch or breakfast.
I got the basic dough recipe for the sticky buns from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book.
Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing these guys;
- Make sure your yeast hasn't expired or else the dough will not ferment and rise properly.
- Use fresh cinnamon and firm and ripe Granny Smith apples. Cut those apple bits into small bits so the dough will fold over easily during rolling. Granny Smith apples hold their texture well during baking but they also have a little tartness to them which balances the sweetness of the filling.
- Personally, I don't like too much of a sugar glaze, so I made a very small amount of glaze for these buns. You can easily increase the amount of glaze by doubling the quantities of the ingredients listed for the glaze below.
- I used sliced almonds to top the buns but you can use pecans, walnuts, pistachios and probably any other type of your favorite nut.
caramelized apple sticky buns (adapted from The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book)
yields: 12 buns
1 lb granny smith apples
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed
1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup golden raisins
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder, freshly ground
3 larges eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1/4 cup (1 3/4 ounces) brown sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant/rapid-rise yeast
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher sea salt
4 1/4 cups (21 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour + extra for dusting
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled + 1 tablespoon for brushing the dough and greasing the pan (*you can also use a neutral vegetable oil spray to coat the pan, but don't use olive oil)
1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
glaze (if you want more glaze, double the quantity)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons honey
4 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon kosher sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, freshly ground
1. Wash the apples, peel and cored them. Chop the apples into very tiny pieces (the smaller the better as it will be easier to handle when wrapping the dough).
2. Heat a thick bottomed medium-sized saucepan on a medium-high flame. Melt the butter in the saucepan and then add the apples along with the lemon juice, apple sauce, coconut, raisins, sugar and cinnamon. Mix evenly with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, cover the saucepan with a lid and cook for about 8-10 minutes with occasional stirring to prevent any burning. Remove and keep aside until ready to use.
3. Using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer whisk the eggs on medium-high speed for about 2 minutes. Add the buttermilk and whisk for about 1 minute. Then add the brown sugar, yeast and salt and combine for about 1 minute. Add 2 cups of the flour and mix with the paddle attachment until combined. Then remove and replace the paddle attachment with the dough blade. Add the next 2 cups of flour and the 6 tablespoons of melted butter, mix until the dough comes together for about 5 minutes.
4. Transfer the dough to a clean and lightly floured surface. Knead with hands for about 5 minutes adding the remaining 1/4 cup flour as needed to bring the dough together. The dough should not be sticky but should be soft and pliable. (You might need to add a little more flour if the 1/4 cup isn't enough, avoid adding too much flour). Once the dough has come together, transfer it to a well-oiled bowl, place it in there and brush lightly with a little oil (a neutral vegetable oil spray would work too). Cover the bowl with cling film and keep it in a warm place. Allow the dough to double in size for about 2 1/2 hours.
5. Transfer the risen dough to a clean and lightly floured surface and shape it into a small rectangle with your hands. Using a rolling pan, roll out the dough into a 16 X 12 inch rectangle, dusting lightly with flour as needed. Brush the dough with the remaining tablespoon of butter, leaving a half inch border along the top edge.
6. Using a large flat spoon or silicone spatula, transfer and spread the apple filling over the dough. Smooth with your hand or the spoon. Lightly grease your hands before you handle the dough. Starting with the longer side, begin to lift the dough and roll, pressing tightly but gently to form a cylinder. Pinch the ends firmly to seal the cylinder. Using your hands, gently shape the cylinder to an even diameter. The cylinder should be around 18 inches in length. Using a sharp serrated bread knife, gently cut through the center of the cylinder with a sawing motion. Cut each half similarly into 6 equal parts. Line a rectangular baking (13 X 11 inch) dish with parchment paper, grease lightly with a little butter (or spray lightly with an oil spray). Place each of the 12 buns in the pan cut side down, arranged next to each other. Cover and allow to rise for 1 1/2 hours in a warm spot.
7. While the buns are rising, prepare the glaze. In a small stockpot, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter on a medium-high flame. Add the sugar, honey, water, salt and cinnamon and stir until the mixture is smooth and the sugar has completely dissolved. Bring the syrup to a boil and then cook for another 5 minutes with constant stirring until it just begins to caramelize. Immediately remove from stove and keep aside until ready to use. If the glaze begins to harden, warm it slightly before use to melt and add 2 -3 tablespoons of water to dissolve it.
8. Place a wire rack in the center of the oven and a pizza stone on it (if you don't have a pizza stone to bake with, just use the wire rack). Heat the oven to 350F. Once the oven is warm, sprinkle the almonds over the buns and bake the pan with the buns for about 20-25 minutes until just golden brown. Immediately remove from oven and carefully drizzle with the warm glaze all over the top of the buns. Transfer the buns back into the oven and bake for another 6-8 minutes until the glaze just begins to caramelize (watch it carefully to make sure it doesn't burn). Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Slide the buns out of the pan using the parchment paper onto a wire rack. Serve warm by pulling the buns apart or cutting through with a serrated knife.