I think I might have started my own personal Easter tradition. I didn't grow up with hot cross buns being made in our house, or even purchased around Easter. However, with my ever increasing love for making bread, this is second year in a row I've made them. I'm sure I will make them again next year, or perhaps a second batch for Easter weekend!
This year I wanted to make something a little different than the traditional bun made with raisin. I had some amazing whole wheat flour from a local Alberta farm, Gold Forest Grains, I've been wanting to bake with. They grow heirloom and heritage wheat, stoned milled in small batches. Trust me when I say, you can feel the difference when you touch and smell this flour.
Whole Wheat Apple Cinnamon Hot Cross Buns
Yeast Mixture & Dough
1 tbs dry active yeast
½ cup sugar, plus 2 tbs
1 ½ cups lukewarm milk
1 ¼ cups (two apples) of chopped apple
4 ½ cups whole wheat all-purpose flour
1 ½ tbs cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
¼ tsp ginger powder
1 tsp vanilla
50g(1 ½ oz) melted butter
Mixture for Crosses
½ cup plain all-purpose flour
1/3 cup water
½ cup sugar
¼ cup water, plus more for blooming the gelatin
2 tsp powdered unflavoured gelatin
Add the yeast, milk and 2 tbs of sugar in a large bowl. Set aside for 5 minutes. The mixture should start to form bubbles (activating the yeast). Add the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, egg, melted butter, remaining sugar, and apples to the yeast mixture. Mix until it forms a workable ball. Place the dough on a floured surface and kneed for 5-10 minutes, until the dough feels elastic. Let the dough rise in a lightly oiled bowl for 1 hour; covered with a damp cloth. The dough should double in size.
Grease a 9 x 12 inch pan and line with parchment paper. Form the dough into 12 evenly sized balls and place in the pan. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise for another 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F. To make the dough for the cross; mix the remaining flour and water in a small bowl until it forms a loose paste. It shouldn’t be too runny, or too thick. Place the mixture in a piping bag, or plastic bag and cut off one corner. Pipe the mixture in a cross pattern over the buns. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a deep golden brown.
To make the glaze, sprinkle the gelatin over ½ cup cold water until it “blooms” (has absorbed the water ~10 minutes). In a saucepan, combine the sugar and water on low to medium heat and simmer until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the gelatin and heat for 1 minute. Glaze buns while they are still hot out of the oven.
Serve buns warm, with butter and honey.