Friday, April 18, 2014

Hot Cross Brunch

I hope you're all having a good Friday and that you haven't already eaten too many hot cross buns, as they feature prominently in today's post and trust me, this is a recipe you're going to want to try for yourself!  I love this time of year and today was perfect.  I woke up to beautiful sunshine and blue skies, the Wisteria in college is in full bloom and spring is definitely in the air!

Hot cross brunch

The Wisteria
Hot cross buns are a staple in my diet around easter but I wanted to make today's extra special, so I present to you french toasted hot cross buns with maple syrup, bacon and scrambled egg.

Unfortunately I don't have an oven in college so I had to use shop-bought hot cross buns.  However, a couple of weeks ago while I was at home I did take the opportunity to make some, so here's a bit about how that went.  Every month in my GoodFood magazine there's a section called 'Maisie makes' the idea being that these recipes are child-friendly.  As I had never made hot cross buns before, this seemed like a good place to start!

Home-made hot cross buns
Home-made hot cross buns
In theory the buns are pretty to make: mix flour, dried yeast, sugar, mixed spice, cinnamon, milk, egg, butter and currants/sultanas, knead and leave the dough to rise.  However, the process became a little tricky around the knead section.  I had an incredibly sticky dough and had to add some more flour, except it didn't really help and I was worried about adding too much extra.  So I left the dough as it was and instead of kneading it on a work surface I cheated and used a mixer with a dough hook!  The dough rose well, however, as it was still very sticky I wasn't quite able to roll it into the lovely round buns shown in the recipe.  Instead mine ended up being somewhat misshapen blobs.

The hot cross buns ready to go in the oven
Ready for the oven!
Undeterred I left them to rise for a second time while making the paste for the crosses which is just a simple mix of flour, sugar and water.  Once risen I piped the crosses onto the buns and popped them in the oven.  Once baked I glazed them with some apricot jam to give them that lovely sheen.

The hot cross buns just out the oven ready to glaze
Just out the oven, ready to glaze
All things considered the buns came out very well.  Aside from the slightly unusual shapes they smelled and tasted exactly like hot cross buns should.  The buns are best eaten warm, not long after they've come out of the oven, with just butter, perfect.

The finished glazed buns
The finished buns nicely glazed
The roundest hot cross bun
The roundest one of the batch!
Now on to my hot cross brunch.  As I said, I was unable to make my own buns for the occasion, so instead I decided to treat myself to M&S's luxury hot cross buns - definitely worth it!

The ingredients
As I only have one hob I prepared the scrambled egg first.  For two portions I beat 3 eggs with a splash of milk.  I then melted some butter in a frying pan over a very low heat.  I then added my eggs and stirred them continuously as they cooked.  If I'm in a hurry I cook scrambled eggs quickly in a hot saucepan, however they are far better cooked slowly over a low heat.  I've heard that if you season scrambled eggs before cooking them then they can go a little dry because of the salt, so I tend to season mine when they're nearly cooked.  I transferred the eggs from the pan to a bowl just before they'd finished cooking and covered them with a plate.  Since I had to cook the hot cross buns and bacon they were going to sit for a few minutes so the plate was to stop them getting cold and by taking them out of the pan a little early they finished cooking in the bowl from the residual heat and were perfect by the time I got them onto the plate.

Butter the buns and sprinkle with cinnamon
I then made my eggy mixture for the french toast part of my brunch.  I beat two more eggs in a bowl along with 100ml milk (this produced enough mixture for 4-6 hot cross buns).  I cut my hot cross buns in half, lightly buttered each half and sprinkled them with ground cinnamon before putting the halves back together again.  I then dipped the 4 hot cross buns into the egg mixture, making sure they were fully coated and that they had soaked up plenty of the mixture.

After dipping I melted some butter in my frying pan over a medium heat and waited until it was nice and hot before adding the hot cross buns.  They need to be fried for a couple of minutes on each side to heat them through and  to allow the outside to brown nicely.  Once they're done, place them on a plate and quickly return the pan to the heat.

Fry the eggy hot cross buns
I then added the ban immediately and quickly cooked it in the leftover fat from the hot cross buns.  Bacon usually releases a lot of fat when it cooks so you should be fine, if the pan does seem to be getting a little dry just add a bit more butter.  For the last 30 seconds add about a tablespoon of maple syrup to the pan - this will give the bacon a great taste and colour.

Once you've got your hot cross buns, eggs and bacon on a plate pour over some more maple syrup and if you want to try and pretend to be healthy then blueberries go amazingly with the hot cross buns.

Hot cross buns with maple syrup and blueberries
And Serve
Needless to say brunch was incredible even if I won't need to eat anything else for a while!  I hope you all have a lovely Easter!  There will be another Easter themed post coming up soon in which I will tell you about my escapades trying to make Easter-themed cheesecakes.

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