Spiked with chai tea and plenty of spices, the dates are kneaded into the dough creating swirls throughout the soft, just-sweet buns. Simple and a bit moody (the day, the buns and the styling), they gave me the perfect excuse to pull out my new crafty, DIY tiled background.
Half of these went to work with RJ, the other half stayed here for personal consumption. I may make another batch for lunch with friends on Sunday, I may make them again in June because any day is a good day for homemade Hot Cross Buns.
If you want more Easter ideas there are always the Natural Dyed Easter Eggs from last year, a perfect way to use those eggs once the hunt is over, a couple other Hot Cross Bun twists, and of course some healthy and not so healthy chocolate creations. On the other hand you could just make a cup of tea and enjoy these.
Either way have a lovely Easter — a long one if you are in Australia, where everyone appreciates a long weekend even if it is denominationally driven, and a normal one if you are in the US where you can’t give everyone their respective holidays off so no one gets any (I have a headache screaming into my eyeball, it’s blocking my not particularly strong even on a good day filter) — and if you are celebrating Passover feel free to pop by when you are once again partaking in the consumption of leavened goodies. I’m off to have another Hot Cross Bun.
Sticky Date & Chai Hot Cross Buns
Sweet and spiced, these are no ordinary hot cross buns. The recipe may seem a bit long but it’s very straight forward, and as long as you aren’t scared by a slightly sticky dough you’ll be rewarded with perfect buns any time of year.
- 1 c boiling water, plus extra cold water as needed
- 1 chai tea bag or 1 tsp loose chai
- 1 c chopped dates
- 1 packet dried yeast (2 ¼ tsp)
- 2 c organic unbleached white flour, plus ½ c extra
- 2 c organic stone ground whole wheat flour
- 1 ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ginger
- ¼ tsp each ground cloves and cardamom
- good pinch cracked black pepper
- ¼ c olive oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 egg plus a splash of water
- ¼ c unbleached white flour
- 2 – 3 Tbsp water
Steep tea in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove tea, add dates and soak 5 minutes. Drain dates, pressing lightly to remove extra liquid. Reserve liquid and set dates aside until required.
Top up liquid with enough water to make 1 cup, add yeast and proof until foamy.
Mix 2 c white flour with yeast and beat 50 strokes. Beat in 1 c whole wheat flour, salt and spices, oil and eggs. Beat in remaining 1 c whole wheat flour — the dough will be very sticky.
Allow dough to rest for 2 minutes, dust benchtop with about 2 Tbsp of the extra flour and scrape dough onto flour. Knead 2 mins, invert bowl over dough and rest 2 mins. Knead for 2 mins, adding another 2 Tbsp flour if required, rest 2 mins.
Using the heel of your hand, spread dough into a rough rectangle and sprinkle with a generous amount of remaining flour. Spread over dates, roll roughly to enclose (use dough scraper to help) and knead dough until dates are well incorporated — dough should be tacky but smooth.
Add a splash of oil to the (unwashed) bowl and turn dough to coat. Cover with baking paper and a tea towel and let rise in a warm spot until doubled — about an hour.
Grease a roasting pan (13 x 9 inch) with a bit of coconut oil, line base with baking paper.
Punch down dough, turn out onto a lightly floured benchtop and knead once or twice. Cut into 12 even pieces (85 – 90 g each for those keeping score). Roll into buns and place evenly in pan, they should be nearly touching. Cover with paper and a towel and allow to rise 30 – 45 mins until just under double in size.
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
Whisk egg with a splash of water and gently brush over buns. Mix extra flour with the water to create a paste the consistency of thick yoghurt and tip into a small plastic sandwich bag.
Snip the corner off the baggie and pipe crosses using long lines in each direction (or pipe spirals, whatever). Allow buns to rise, uncovered, a further 10 – 15 mins while the oven finishes heating.
Bake 20 mins until golden and slightly hollow when tapped. Cool in pan 10 mins, run a knife around the edge and turn out to cool completely on a rack.
- Flours, especially whole wheat flours, vary considerably in how much moisture they absorb. I use a stone-ground organic style, if yours is a bit more processed and closer to white flour with the bran added back in you may not need as much during the kneading stage.
- Instead of kneading in the dates you could use them to make filled buns using this technique from last year.
dairy-free // soy-free // nut-free // refined sugar-free // vegetarian