It was an emotional week of national mourning in Singapore after the passing of our first Prime Minister and founding father, Mr Lee Kuan Yew. The previous week had mostly been spent between reading numerous articles and poring through the avalanche of photographs of tearful Singaporeans paying their last respects. It was pretty traumatic and heart-breaking. Hardly an ounce of energy nor enthusiasm was left for cooking a meal, let alone write a blog post. We mourned the loss of a great leader whom without a doubt help lay the foundation of our modern nation, though some of his political measures are questionable, in hindsight. And the week before last, a neighbouring Pacific island, Vanuatu, had been almost completely wiped out by a hurricane. Though Auckland was relatively unscathed by it, I was once again reminded of the impermanence of our existence. But life must go on.
So, I’m slightly excited that this coming weekend we’ll be away to the Coromandel Peninsula for a much needed break.
Though very traditional in appearance, these have caramel and the lovely floral and musky notes of masala chai (spiced tea) infused into them. ( Note: ‘Chai’ means tea in Hindi and so one needn’t add the word ‘tea’ with it) Best eaten straight out of the oven with a slather of salted butter but these are delicious without butter too. Happy Easter Weekend everyone! And make these! I guarantee you’ll be having them for breakfast, brunch and tea over your long break.
Caramel Chai Hot Cross Buns
- 1 1/2 cup milk (almond milk works too)
- 3 chai tea bags
- 1/4 cup / 42g brown sugar
- 1/4 cup caramel
- 1 tbsp active dried yeast
- 4 1/2 cups / 616 g high grade/ bread flour
- 2 tsp mixed spice powder
- 1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp vanilla bean paste
- 2 large eggs
- 100 g butter, cubed & softened
- 1 cup / about 150 g sultanas
- 1/2 cup / about 75 g crystallised ginger, chopped
- 1/2 cup / about 75 g mixed citrus peel
For the cross paste
- 1/2 – 1 cup high grade/ bread flour
- 1/2 cup + a few tbsp water
For the caramel glaze
- about 2- 3 tbsp caramel
- 2 tbsp or more hot water
1. Boil milk and steep tea bags in milk for about 15 minutes. Discard teabags and leave milk to cool to about 37°C (warm enough to be touched)
2. Mix in the sugar, caramel and then yeast. Set aside for 5 minutes for yeast to activate. You’ll start to see bubbles on the surface.
3. In your kitchen mixer bowl, add the spices, flour, vanilla & eggs to the milk -yeast mixture and mix with a large spatula until it is roughly mixed.
4. With a dough hook, knead the loosely formed dough on low speed and add the cubed butter one after another. The dough will come together after all the butter is added but it’ll be sticky and it’ll break easily if you tried to stretch it.
5. Continue to knead on medium speed for the dough to form a smooth and shiny ball. It is ready when it can be stretched quite a bit before breaking.
6. Cover dough with a clean kitchen cloth and rest the dough in a warm and dark place for 1-2 hours, until it has doubled. I put it in my oven.
7. Using the dough hook, mix the sultanas, crystallised ginger and mixed peel. You could manually mix the dried fruits as well.
8. Cover with clean kitchen cloth and rest in a warm, dark place for 1 hour.
8. Then, tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 16 equal lumps. Mine were about 85-90g each.
9. Shape each lump into smooth balls and place them on a baking tray. The dough will be slightly sticky so dust with a little plain flour if needed. Try not to have the dried fruit on the top surface of the buns as they burn easily when baked. The buns should be lightly touching each other and not squeezed together. I used a 37 x 39.5 cm roasting tray.
10. Cover with kitchen cloth and let them rest for about 30 minutes. The buns would expand slightly and the buns’ corners will be touching. The buns are ready once they spring back slowly when pressed lightly. Rest longer if they spring back quickly and they’re overproved if they remain dented.
11. While the buns are rising after Step 9 , preheat oven to 200°C/ 400°F and make the cross paste. Stir flour and water until smooth. The paste should not be too runny. Add more flour if needed and mix again.
12.Spoon the mixture into a piping bag or a ziplock bag (Cut 2-3 mm triangle off a corner) and slowly pipe the crosses over the risen buns.
13. Bake for 17-20 minutes until golden brown.
14.Make the caramel glaze and once buns are baked, brush over the glaze while the buns are still hot.
15. Leave to cool for about 20 minutes before serving.
- The rising times in this recipe is necessary for the buns to be light and fluffy.