We’ve probably all sang that little ditty at some time in our lives. I know we did when we were kids growing up in Australia. Bread often plays a major role in holiday and religious observances. The hot cross bun is traditional Lenton bread, its exact origins unknown. Some say that it has pagan origins, the cross representing the moon and its four quarters. Anglo-Saxons ate the sacramental buns in honor of their goddess Eastore. When the Romans arrived in Britain, the clergy tried to stop the use of the sacramental buns, but could not. So they blessed them and gave the cross on the buns a Christian meaning. Traditionally these buns are decorated with dough piped across the top before baking, not a sweet icing as is commonly seen. A thin glaze brushed over the buns provides the added sweetness.
Yield: 30 Rolls
10 ounces Golden raisins
10 ounces Dark raisins
3 ounces Candied orange peel
2 lb. 4 oz. Bread flour
4 ounces Shortening
3 1/2 ounces Granulated sugar
10 grams Dough conditioner, optional
2 ounces Dry milk powder
2 3/4 ounces Compressed yeast
1 Tablespoon Salt
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Cardamom, ground
1 teaspoon Allspice, ground
2 teaspoons Ginger, ground
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon, ground
19 fluid ounces Water
4 ounces Pastry flour
3/4 ounce Shortening
3 1/2 fluid ounces Milk
6 fluid ounces Bun Glaze
1. Place the raisins and candied orange peel in a small bowl and cover with hot water. Let soften in the water for 5 minutes. Drain the water and let the fruit condition for 2 to 4 hours before using. Set aside.
2. Place the flour, shortening, sugar, dough conditioner, if using, dry milk powder, yeast, salt, eggs, vanilla extract and spices in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the dough hook. Add the water and mix the dough on low speed for 3 minutes until moistened. Stop the machine and scrape the bowl. Add additional flour if necessary to create a soft dough. Mix the dough on medium speed for 6 to 7 minutes until it is soft and pliable.
3. Add the conditioned fruit and mix the dough on low speed until the fruit is well distributed in the dough. If necessary, dust the dough lightly with more flour to help the fruit incorporate.
4. Scrape the dough onto a flour-dusted workbench. Cover and ferment for 30 minutes. Deflate the dough and fold it into thirds then let it rest for another 15 minutes.
5. Divide the dough into 3–1/2-ounce (100-gram) pieces. Round the dough into tight rolls with a smooth top surface. Place the formed rolls, seam side down on a paper-lined half sheet pan. Position them in rows on the tray, 5 rolls by 6 rolls so that the rolls touch when fully proofed.
6. Proof the rolls with low humidity until doubled in size, approximately 50 minutes.
7. While the rolls proof, prepare the cross dough. Combine the pastry flour, shortening and milk in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until the shortening is well blended and the dough is lump free.
8. When the rolls have proofed, scoop the cross mixture into a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip. Quickly pipe a cross over the surface of each roll.
9. Bake at 375°F (190°C) until the rolls are a rich brown color, approximately 15 minutes.
10. Brush the hot rolls generously with the chilled Bun Glaze, making certain they are well coated so that no dry spots appear when the glaze dries.
My family love Chinese style bbq pork buns (char siu bao). I had made a roast pork the night before last and wanted to use up some of the leftovers. Of course my pork wasn’t roasted in the traditional Chinese bbq style, but with the addition of a sauce mixed into my roast pork, I felt I could get away with it. For the bun dough I used the master recipe from my copy of Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day.
2 cups of roast pork diced (I used leftovers remember)
(Adapted from The Chinese Kitchen by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo)
For the Filling (make while the dough is rising):
5 tablespoons low-sodium chicken stock
1 tbsp oyster sauce
2 1/2 tsp sugar
2 1/4 tsp tapioca or corn starch
2 tsp ketchup
1 1/2 tsp dark soy sauce
Pinch ground white pepper
1 tbsp oil
1 small onion, cut into 1/4-inch pieces
3/4 cup barbecued pork, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 1/2 tsp Shao Xing rice wine or gin
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
In a small bowl, combine chicken stock, oyster sauce, sugar, tapioca starch, ketchup, soy sauce, and white pepper; set aside.
Heat a wok or pan over high heat for 40 seconds and add oil. Coat wok with oil using a spatula then add onion. Lower heat to medium, and cook until onion turns light brown, about 2 minutes. Raise heat to high, add pork, and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add wine, and stir to combine.
Stir the reserved stock mixture and add it to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the sauce thickens and turns brown, 1 to 1 1/2 minutes. Add sesame oil, and stir to combine. Transfer to a shallow dish. Cool to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 375F.
Once the dough has risen for the first time I took small pieces of it and flattened it to the size of a small saucer using floured hands so it didn’t stick.
Then take about one heaped tablespoon of the pork filling and place in the center of the dough disc.
Gather up the sides of the dough disc to form a ball shape enclosing the filling. Be sure to seal the filling inside of the dough or it will leak out. I placed my buns with the gathered seam side down and brushed with a beaten egg to give them a glossy finish.
Place buns on a sheet pan dusted with some flour and bake in the oven for approximately 15–20 mins depending on your oven.
I served mine with a plum sauce for dipping which was a great compliment.
***As I said before, these are a quick cheats way to make pork buns, so if you are looking for the traditional char siu bao, then this recipe probably isn’t for you. It was really a way of using up our leftovers and enjoying the pork in a different way to how it was first served up.