These are not the standard supermarket hot cross bun, which tends to a cinnamon and sugar flavour profile and a soft, moist crumb. They are denser, chewier, less sweet, and spicier. They go well with strongly flavoured cheese (mature cheddar, oude kaas, washed-rind cheeses).
If you want the cross, a good icing mixture is lemon or lime juice and as much icing sugar as you can stir in. A dash of rose water or orange flower water is a nice addition. When the rolls are cool from the oven, draw a cross on each one.
- 500g (or 1lb) currants
- 100g ‘mixed peel’ or candied citron or candied orange peel.
- 3 blades of mace
- about 20 allspice berries
- about 20 coriander seeds
- seeds of about 10 cardamom pods
- 80g butter
- salt to taste
- boiling water
- a cup of warm water
- a teaspoon of sugar
- 1⁄2 cup gluten
- About 1.5kg bread flour
Put the fruit in a mixing bowl. Grind the mace, allspice, and coriander. Add the cardamom seeds, salt, and butter. Cover amply with boiling water.
In a small bowl, mix the yeast with warm water and sugar.
When the fruit mixture is only comfortably hot (50°C or so) and the yeast has bubbles on top, mix them. Add the gluten flour and as much of the bread flour as you can mix in. Leave to rise for 2-3 hours in a warm place.
Knead, adding more flour as necessary.
Shape into rolls or small loaves, and leave to rise for another hour or so. Preheat the oven to 250°C.
Bake the rolls/loaves for 10 minutes or so, then turn the heat down to 220°C and bake until they sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.
Cool on a rack (or in a colander)
- Sour cherries are an excellent replacement for some or all of the currants, but are expensive
- Dried apple or apricot can replace half the currants
- Variations on the spice: cinnamon, cloves, a very little black pepper
- Omitting the gluten will give softer, denser rolls
- Some people might want to cut back on the spices
- People vary a lot in how much salt they want in bread. I use about 2 tsp.