The almighty spelt hot cross buns
So it’s Easter, that means chocolate eggs, rabbits, yellow chicks, and err, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Like Christmas, it’s a time of the year where you get complete carte blanche to eat whatever the hell you want. This normally manifests in a wheelbarrow full of chocolate and a big roast dinner, not forgetting the mighty hot cross bun. Did you know that you’re officially supposed to eat hot cross buns for a minimum of two weeks, either side of Easter weekend, and the longer, the better? (only kidding, but it’s a good benchmark). And like Christmas pudding, they taste good at any time of year.
As you may have guessed, I like hot cross buns. I also have a thing for spelt flour. In fact, I’m on a ceaseless mission to spelt-ificate everything that I bake, which leads to some great discoveries and some unequally great disasters. I’m not going to get all preachy about spelt flour, as there’s a million and one websites out there to tell you all the features and benefits of it and I’m not going to retype it all out today. If you want to know more, I’ve googled it for you, here.
Instead of putting together a report on spelt flour today, ladies and gentlemen, I am going to present you with a special Easter treat which I’ve worked on tirelessly for the last few days. Having fine tuned and tweaked the formula, I can now happily publish, for your baking pleasure, my delightful recipe for some beautifully spiced spelt hot cross buns.
It’s been a long time coming
In what has been the longest development of any recipe on this blog, I’ve made these buns three times this week, so if it’s possible for a person to ever become tired of the smell of beautiful, freshly baked, spiced buns wafting through the house, I would be a prime candidate by now, but sadly not, I can’t get enough of them. The hard work, long days and turmoil has been worth it when ultimately rewarded with hot, wholesome, sticky, spicy hot cross buns served up with a hot drink and your favourite spread.
So, please welcome, for one night only, live on stage, spelt hot cross buns! (round of applause please)
Spelt hot cross buns
By Gavin Wren
Makes 12 buns
For the buns:
175g whole milk (you can use goat’s)
75g butter (you can use goat’s)
10g dried yeast
50g warm water
300g white (refined) spelt flour
150g brown (wholemeal) spelt flour
100g light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
Zest of 1 orange
1 large egg, beaten
For the crosses:
75g white (reminded) spelt flour
2-3 tablespoons water
For the glaze:
4 tablespoons fine marmalade
1 tablespoon water
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
In a small bowl, mix the yeast and warm water together and leave to stand so that it froths up slightly.
Sieve the flour and sugar into a large mixing bowl, then add the salt, cinnamon, allspice, orange zest and currants. Mix lightly to combine all of the ingredients.
Once the milk mixture has cooled to being just warm, rather than hot, get a plastic spatula and bowl ready for the messy, sticky bit! In the next part you want to keep one hand clean, to hold the bowl or spatula with, using the other hand as your ‘mixer’, getting it covered in sticky dough.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the egg, followed by the milk and butter mixture and the yeast mixture. Holding the bowl with your ibe clean hand, get your other hand in there to mix all the ingredients together. Periodically use the spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl down and to get the sticky dough off your mixing hand back into the bowl.
Once everything is combined, cover the bowl with cling film and leave in a warm place (25-30ºC) for 1 hour. The dough ball should considerably increase in size. Whist this is happening, line some baking sheets or trays with greaseproof paper.
Lightly dust your work surface with flour then turn the dough ball out onto it. Knead it gently a few times, for two minutes maximum, it is important not to over-work spelt dough.
It should be quite sticky, but not so ridiculously sticky that you can’t knead it. If it is too sticky, dust the dough with a little flour and knead it in. Conversely, if it’s not sticky at all, then your dough is too dry and you can add a tablespoon of milk or water at a time to loosen it slightly.
Once kneaded, divide the dough into 12 small pieces. Roll each piece around to make a ball and place on the greaseproof trays. Cover with cling film and leave to rise for an hour again. Pre heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400ºF, 204ºC, 184ºC fan.
Mix the flour for the crosses and 2 tablespoons of the water together until you have a thick dough. Add more water if necessary. Once the buns have risen again, roll this dough into thin strips and lay across the buns to make the crosses.
Put the trays of buns in the oven for 15-17 minutes. They should be lightly browned when done.
Whilst in the oven, mix all of the glaze ingredients together in a small pan over a low heat. Once they are well combined, remove from the heat.
When the buns are cooked, remove from the oven and paint the glaze over the top of them generously.