Conquer Your Oven & Cross Buns re-done

>> Saturday, 27 March 2010

Ovens can seem as if they have minds of their own. For the uninitiated they can be downright frightening with their dark interior, unforgiving metal racks, a light that goes on and off at will, a door that shuts you out... all of this leading to a fear of the oven - oven-phobia if you will. Read this week's column on how you can go about conquering your oven and showing it who's the boss!

I've included at the end of the column a recipe for these fruit rock buns for you to try as I am sure that you'll be geared up to bake after reading the column.

Each year when Easter rolls around, I am always searching and tweaking various Cross Buns recipes trying to come up with something that I like, something that suits my taste. There have been hits and misses. This year I was determind not to bother making Cross Buns... but you know, when the time comes around, you can't seem to help yourself, and so you give in.

For a Cross Bun to satisfy me, it has to be soft and tender and I want it just sweet enough that I don't need to slather it with butter or anything else. I want to be able to eat the bun as is with a cup of tea.

So here's what I set out to make - a bun that is soft and fluffy like my butterflaps, sweet like an Amish White Bread and with the gloss and stickiness of a coconut turnover or a sticky bun (minus the nuts). I deliberately set out not to dress my buns with the traditional icing cross or the flour-paste cross. I have to tell you, I am one happy woman, the recipe I created produced a bun that totally suits my taste and my tasters. Soft. Sweet. Sticky.


Yield: 12 - 14


  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast (or instant)
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 + ½ cup warm whole milk (110 – 115 degrees F)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt (1/4 teaspoon table salt)
  • 1/3 cup currants


  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • ½ cup icing sugar
  • ¼ cup whole milk

  • Equipment

  • 1 medium bowl
  • 1 large bowl, oiled
  • Plastic wrap or kitchen towel
  • 1 (13 x 9-inch) baking dish, brushed with oil
  • 2 small bowls
  • 1 pastry brush
  • 1 small whisk
  • 1 tablespoon
  • 1 large baking tray/sheet
  • 1 wire rack
  • 1 flat spatula


  1. Add sugar to bowl along with milk and stir to dissolve sugar. Toss in yeast and give a little stir (be sure to wipe off any yeast stuck on the spoon), cover and leave to proof for 10 minutes in a warm place
  2. Add flour to bowl along with ground cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and salt and stir to mix thoroughly; toss in raisins and mix
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture and pour in the yeast-milk mixture and mix to form dough. Once formed, knead the dough for 2 minutes, place in an oiled bowl, cover and put in a warm place to rise for 1 ½ hours or until the dough has more than doubled in size
  4. Punch down risen dough and knead for 2 minutes and then cut dough into equal pieces. Form each piece into a ball and place in oiled baking dish. Cover and let rise for 1 hour
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F with the rack in the middle 20 minutes before the 1 hour of rising is complete
  6. Add 3 tablespoons sugar and 2 tablespoons water to small bowl and stir to dissolve sugar
  7. Brush risen dough with sugar-water and transfer dish to the oven. Bake for 12 minutes; brush with sugar-water and bake for another 12 minutes. Brush again with sugar-water and bake for 3 minutes
  8. Remove dish from oven, place on wire rack and brush a few times with sugar-water and leave to cool in the dish for 10 – 12 minutes
  9. Use your spatula to pry the buns from the pan and transfer to wire rack then place the wire rack on the baking sheet/tray and let buns continue to cool
  10. Meahwhile, add icing sugar and milk to a bowl and whisk to dissolve. Using a tablespoon, drizzle the glaze all over the buns - on the top and sides. Let buns continue to cool until you are ready to serve them

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