Clearly my baking skills haven't completely atrophied during the hiatus, because these hot cross buns I made this morning came out perfectly!
I promised myself that I would limit the time I spend baking this year because I have HUGE medical exams at the end of the year, but I simply could not let this Easter go without some attempt at making hot cross buns. Hot cross buns have always been one of my favourite types of bread, and I am particularly partial to those super-soft and heavily-spiced ones from our two major chain supermarkets here in Australia. Never mind the fact that the ingredients list reads something like the glossary at the back of a medical textbook.
The recipe I used is from Titli's Bread Kitchen, an amazing site authored by an amazing baker. The video tutorials she has on her blog is so very helpful. In fact, without first watching her demonstration on youtube of how to knead the very stick dough this recipe makes, I would have fallen into the trap of adding extra flour to dry up the dough. DO NOT ADD EXTRA FLOUR. Like Titli promised, after working the dough for 10-15 minutes, it becomes a lot less tacky and starts to feel nice and elasticated. I even managed to get a 'gluten windowpane' going - something I've always had trouble with when baking breads. I suspect it's because of the extra flour I've been adding, and also because I'm a lazy-arse who uses the dough-hook attachment on my KitchenAid instead of doing it all by hand. Something things just taste better with manual labour, there's no two ways about it.
I could tell they were going to be amazing as soon as I piped on the crosses. Everything just came together brilliantly for this recipe. After I brushed on the milk/sugar glaze, they looked as if they's jumped right out of the cover of Gourmet. (Excuse the boasting - can you tell I'm really proud of these buns?)
Slicing one open confirmed that they were indeed the soft and fluffy buns Titli had promised on her video. I slathered one with an ample amount of olive spread (shock horror, I know - we were all out of butter), and, oh-perfection-in-a-mouthful!
I think I've found THE recipe for hot cross buns!