Every year, I make hot cross buns for Mr. Mateo. I really thought I had that shit down, but this year, Matt requested an addition — mixed peel. Blarg.
Now, while mixed peel is pretty much a baking standard in English-y countries, it really isn’t here. You can find it, but it’s either stupid expensive and/or has neon green bits. Ew. So I made it.
It’s time consuming (days, people!!), but it was cheap and easy… and when Matt bit into his first bun, he danced one of the happiest little jigs I’ve ever seen. My South African friend said they reminded him of the kind his mom used to make. I even thought they tasted pretty darn good.
So worth it.
Mixed Peel, from Australian Women’s Weekly
1/2 cups sugar
Peel fruit, leaving the pith on the skin. (Unclear? For sure. I figured that meant that the pith should be used. Who knows, really?). Cut peel into 5mm square bits.
Put chopped peel in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Drain. DO THIS TWICE, but reserve 1/2 cup of liquid when draining the second time. (This should remove some of the bitterness of the pith).
Put peel into a bowl. Put reserved liquid, 1/2 cup water, and 1 cup sugar in the saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved, then bring to a boil. Remove from heat, pour liquid over the peel, and let stand overnight.
Next day, put peel, liquid, and remaining 1/2 cup of sugar in a saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar has dissolved, then bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain well. Cover a wire rack with parchment or wax paper. Spread out peel in a single layer and let dry overnight (or longer), moving peel about occasionally with a fork.
If necessary, you can speed things up by putting peel in a low oven (150F). Monitor closely — these shouldn’t be hard. The consistency is more like the inside of an old jelly bean, if that makes any sense!
Supposedly keeps in an air-tight container for a year — we’ll see how that goes!
New-and-improved Hot Cross Buns, adapted from my previous adaptation!
This recipe was lovingly converted from an Aussie recipe before I had Aussie measuring cups and spoons (which are different sizes than our US ones) — which was SUCH a pain in the ass that I continue to use it. Below, I’ve updated it to reflect the mixed peel.
600 g all-purpose flour
14 g active dry yeast
60 g sugar, put in the blender and pulverized (to resemble caster sugar)
1+ tbsp spices, including cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Amount depends on how spicy you like things — I’m sure I had 1.5-2 tbsp with about 75% of it being cinnamon.
pinch of salt
1 1/4 cup currants.
1/4 cup mixed peel
40 g unsalted butter
300 ml milk
2 eggs, lightly beaten
For flour paste:
45 g all-purpose flour
80-100 ml water
1.5 tbsp Lyle’s Golden Syrup
Combine flour (all but 1/2 a cup), yeast, sugar, spices, salt, currants, and mixed peel in a large bowl. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add milk and heat for 1 minute. Add the milk mixture and the eggs to the dry mixture. Mix with a spatula until dough almost comes together, then mix with hands to form a soft dough.
Dust surface with remaining 1/2 cup of dough. Knead dough on this surface for 10 mins (don’t add more flour — it’s sticky and a mess but it works!) or until dough is smooth. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let rise 1 to 1/2 hours, or until dough doubles in size.
Cover a baking tray with parchment paper. Punch down down and knead on very lightly floured surface until smooth. Divide in 12 equal portions (mine were about 100g each), shape each portion into a ball, and then place on the tray about 1 cm apart (4 balls x 3 balls). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise for 30 mins or until buns double in size. While rising, preheat oven to 375F.
Make the flour paste by mixing flour and water together in small bowl, adding more water if the paste is too thick. Pipe paste onto buns in the shape of a cross (I just used a ziploc bag with the corner cut off for this… no need to get fancy!). Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until buns are cooked through.
Make the glaze by heating golden syrup in the microwave in 10-sec increments until very runny. Brush warm glaze over the warm buns.
To serve: cut in half, toast, and spread with butter.
And just ’cause… some gratuitous Easter shots!
Carrot cake for two. Meh. Recipe writers — please give me a volume, not something stupid like “one small carrot.” What the heck is a “small carrot?”
America’s Test Kitchen… I expect better from you!
Finally cracked open my custom blend, Red Nipple, made a JM Cellar’s several months ago. Delicious with our leg of lamb… another food gift for my husband!