So let me get this straight: it was your day off from the bakery?
In your limited spare time, you decided to make buns?
Then you brought them into the bakery to share with your colleagues?
You’re such a geek!
In all fairness, it was Good Friday. And while I have never been particularly patriotic or religious before, I do like an excuse to make buns. Those sticky fruit-laden hot cross buns that Marks and Spencers do so well, that I have been dreaming about from far away in France. And I wanted to show my colleagues that English bakery is not so bad after all.
They were pretty damn good; bread with a base of cider and cream and honey can’t be a terrible thing. They had their wobbly crosses. But they weren’t quite as fluffy as I remembered. And the cross was not especially nice – a flour and oil paste made for piping. So I tried again.
Why make buns only once a year anyway? Take off the cross and call it a teacake, spices and all. Stud them with dried cranberries for bejewelled colour and brush with a syrup made from fresh orange juice. Leave them ample rising time as you potter around, let the house fill with the smell of baking bread. (They’re not that hard, just some stirring and ten seconds of kneading. Waiting will be the most difficult.)
Eat them straight away, tear off soft hunks with sunbursts of cranberry and raisin. Cut them in half and have them cold with a slice of brie (genius) or toasted the next morning. In fact there is a kind of magic in the toasting: the charred edges like shaded charcoal, an extra caramelisation and of course, the melted butter sinking in.
Toasted teacakes with cranberries and orange glaze
makes 12 – adapted from Dan Lepard’s hot cross bun recipe in the Guardian
150ml cider at room temperature
7g fast action dried yeast
75g wholemeal flour (but plain will work too)
4 tsp mixed spice
zest of 1 orange
400g bread flour
1 tsp salt
170g dried cranberries
130g raisins (the big juicy kind)
for the glaze: juice of 1 orange + 50g sugar
Mix the cider, yeast and wholemeal flour and leave to bubble for half an hour.
In a medium saucepan, whisk the honey, cream, eggs, orange zest and mixed spice together and heat very gently until just body temperature. (Any hotter and the yeast will not be happy.) In a large bowl stir the flour, cornflour, salt and dried fruit. Add the yeast mix and honey mix and mix to a shaggy dough. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.
Lightly oil a worktop with sunflower oil. Tip the dough onto it and knead for 10 seconds. Put it back in the bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place. (If your house is cold like mine, heat the oven on 75C for three minutes then turn off and stick the bowl inside.) Leave for an hour.
When the dough has doubled in size, divide into 12 equal hunks. Roll each one very gently into a ball on an oiled surface, place on a baking paper-lined tray. Let the teacakes rise in a warm place (oven as above) until doubled again. (Took me about 45 minutes.)
Preheat oven (take teacakes out first!) to 200C. Bake teacakes for 15-18 minutes until golden-brown. They should make a hollow thud when you tap the bottom.
Meanwhile, make the glaze. Take 50ml juice from the orange and 50g sugar and heat in a small saucepan until bubbling. Let cool. Brush onto teacakes when they are still warm but not hot.
Serve straightaway with lots of real butter – or toasted the next day. Also delicious with cheese.