Happy Easter! I have spent today googling why it's not a public holiday here in the States (or is it? I usually judge this by whether spin class is on or not), eating the easter eggs that didn't make it into the cookie box that I didn't make, and sitting on my butt in front of the kitten's cage, trying to help socialise poor miss bunny. She's the shyest kitten I've come across in a very, very long time, but we are slowly starting to get there. She hasn't bitten me in a few days, so I'm going to take that as a small win.
I've had these swimming around my head for a while - they were meant to be the product of a baking day a few weeks back, but we got snowed off. I haven't been able to stop thinking about them, and so they had to happen. I've been meaning to make morning buns for the longest time, and after having some success with making my own puff pastry, I figured giving yeasted laminated dough couldn't be too tricky. The actual laminating of the dough wasn't too bad, but it did take a few tries to get the right dimensions to shape these into nice little buns. I ended up testing these three times, which was fairly labour intensive, but the good news there is that I did all the work for you, and now you just get to make them once, without exploding a whole tray of laminated dough all over the floor of your oven. Don't ask.
I figured seeing as it's easter time, I would go with some hot cross bun inspired morning buns. I started with Erin Mcdowell's dough recipe, and then spiced both the yeasted dough and the butter block for the lamination. Once I had finished my rolling and folding process, I rolled the dough out thinly, filled it with a spiced sugar, currants, and raisins, and then rolled it up into a swirly sausage, similar to how you would roll a cinnamon bun. They were then chopped up, and loaded into a sugar lined muffin tin, before being baked off. As laminated dough is baked, all the layers created with the butter get steamy, creating an amazingly flaky finished product, that shatters as you bite into it. Although I was extremely happy with how they looked when they came out of the oven, they aren't hot cross buns without a cross - so I gave them a quick mascarpone vanilla bean cross, which turned out to be a delicious addition. These would be perfect for Easter, but I would happily eat them all year round too. Do consider making your own laminated dough - once you get the hang of it, it is fairly easy, and a lot of fun!
A few wee tips:
- A thermometer will be very helpful here - you want to make sure that the dough and the butter block are the same temperature before you start your lamination process. I use a digital probe thermometer, and I love it.
- A scale is also helpful. Grams for life.
- Temperature is key! After a few turns you do start to get the hang of things, and you can tell when the dough is a good temperature to do a fold. If it is hard to roll out you can leave it at room temp for a while, and if the butter is melting at the surface, it may need a little more time in the fridge.
- If you can't find mixed spice, you can easily make your own - I used this recipe, omitting the mace
- The dough for the buns needs to be made the night before, for an overnight chill.
- This does make quite a few - you can freeze them once they are rolled up and sliced into buns, - when you are ready to bake, leave them to defrost in the fridge, then rise and bake off as directed. Make sure you store them in a ziploc bag or something airtight to ensure they don't take on the taste of your freezer.
Hot Cross Bun Morning Buns
- Makes about 24 -
Dough recipe adapted from Erin Mcdowell, via Food52
567g (4 3/4 cups) Bread Flour
71g unsalted butter, at room temperature
14g (1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp) instant yeast
2 1/2 tsp salt
360g (360ml) whole milk, cold
1 Tbsp Vanilla bean paste
2 1/2 tsp mixed spice
2 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
455g (1 lb, or 4 sticks) butter, at room temperature
71g bread flour
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
2 tsp mixed spice
2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
113g (one stick) unsalted butter, melted
135g (2/3 cup) brown sugar
135g (2/3 cup) white sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt
150g dried raisins
70g dried currants
Mascarpone Icing (for the crosses)
One 225g (8oz) container of mascarpone, cold
63g (1/2 cup) icing sugar, sifted
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- PROCESS -
Place all of the ingredients into a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment. Mix on low speed for 3 minutes, then increase the speed to medium, and mix for a further 4 minutes, until the dough is smooth. Place into a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge overnight.
LAMINATING THE DOUGH
To make the butter block, combine the butter, bread flour, vanilla bean paste, mixed spice, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a bowl, and mix until well combined. On a 13" x 18" piece of parchment paper, spread the butter into a 6" x 9" rectangle that is approximately 1/2" thick, using an offset spatula to square off the edges. Fold the remaining parchment paper down, using a bench scraper to square off the edges again (very square butter is very helpful!). Place in the fridge for 20-30 minutes, until it is between 60˚f and 70˚f (15˚c to 20˚c).
Once it has reached the ideal temperature, bring both the butter block and the dough out of the fridge. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a rectangle approximately 12" x 10". Place the butter block on the bottom half of the dough (you should have about half an inch space around the edges), and fold over the dough to 'lock' in the butter, pressing down the edges to seal it in. Tuck any excess underneath. Wrap in plastic wrap, place on the baking sheet, and rest in the fridge for 20-30 minutes.
Remove the dough from the fridge. You are now going to begin the folding process. You will do a four fold, a three fold, a four fold, and another three fold.
Turn #1: 4-fold
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to a 13" x 18" rectangle, using a bench scraper to keep the edges tightly squared off. Turn the dough so a long edge is facing you. Take the left edge of the dough, and fold 3/4 of the way across the dough, lining up the edges. Fold the right edge to meet the left, about 1/4 of the way across. Fold the dough in half, left side over right. Transfer to the baking sheet, brush off extra flour, and cover with plastic wrap. Rest for another 30 minutes.
Turn #2: 3-fold
Remove the dough from the fridge. On a lightly floured surface, repeat the rolling process - roll to 13" x 19", and square the edges. Turn so a long edge is facing you. Fold the left side of the dough 1/3 of the way across, then fold the right side of the dough over the left (so you have 3 layers of dough). Place on the baking sheet, brush off flour, cover and refrigerate. Rest for 30 minutes.
Turn #3: 4-fold
Repeat the process for a 4-fold as explained above, taking care to square the edges. Cover and rest for 30 minutes.
Turn #4: 3-fold
This is your final fold. Roll out, square off, and repeat the instructions for a 3-fold above. Cover, and rest for 30 minutes.
ASSEMBLY AND BAKING
Remove the dough from the fridge, and divide in half. Wrap one half tightly in plastic and leave in the fridge while you work with the first half. Brush two 12-hole muffin tins with melted butter, and dust with sugar, tapping out the excess. Combine the sugars, mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl. In a second bowl, combine the raisins and currants.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out one half of the dough to a rectangle 12" x 24". Brush with melted butter, and sprinkle with half of the sugar mixture, pressing down to adhere. Sprinkle with half of the raisins and currants. Starting with a long end, roll up into a tight spiralled log. Cut into 12 equal pieces using a bread knife (approx 1 1/2" width each), and place each bun into a cavity in the prepared muffin tin. Loosely cover with plastic wrap. Repeat with the second half of dough.
Place the buns in a warm place for 40-50 minutes, until they have risen slightly and are puffy. When you press lightly, your finger should leave an indent that bounces back very slightly. Preheat the oven to 365˚f / 185˚c.
Bake the buns for 25-35 minutes, or until lightly golden brown. Remove from the oven, and turn out the buns onto a wire rack. Dust with additional sugar. Place on the rack to cool.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat all the ingredients together until smooth and fluffy. Transfer to a small piping bag fitted with a medium sized round piping tip, or a piping bag or ziploc bag with the end snipped off. Pipe a cross on each bun.
These buns are best eaten the day that they are made. If desired, rewarm slightly before eating. Store leftovers in an airtight container.