Friday, March 21, 2008

Oh the aroma!!

Yesterday, I made hot cross buns for the first time in almost 10 years. I used to bake buns on a regular basis in my 20's and 30's, but got away from it in my 40's as I didn't always have freezer space - and the aroma and taste of fresh buns is enough to drive a person to near gluttony!

I remember helping my grandma shape buns when I was a little girl. I couldn't get the shape right by just rolling it as the dough always stuck to my hands. She taught me to grease my hands - especially along the thumb and up the pointer finger, then take a small piece of dough and carefully squeeze it between the thumb and pointer finger so it comes out as a perfect little ball of dough. Works like a charm!

My mom used to make bread and buns all the time. She used to have this recipe for "overnight Buns". You mixed them at supper time, let them rise several hours, then shape them at 10 or 11:00. They'd rise overnight and then you bake them at morning. I'd wake up to that heavenly smell of fresh buns for breakfast!

One time that she made them, they rose a little quicker than usual. Luckily, she had gotten up during the night and checked them on her way back to bed. I awoke to that aroma about 4:30AM instead of 7:30! We all got up and had fresh warm buns while mom baked the rest of the pans.
Several years later, I was selling bulk baking supplies through a home party system and we carried an instant yeast called Fermipan. It was used by commercial bakers to speed up the process and it was mixed in with the flour rather than the liquids. The package said you could have fresh buns in three hours. Mom and I were very skeptical, but we tried it. It worked beautifully. That was all we used after that.

Fermipan sold out to other companies, but "instant yeast" is now readily available. If you aren't sure if it is the right type of yeast, check the directions on the package to make sure it says to add the yeast to the DRY ingredients.

When I made the buns on Thursday morning, I was very tempted to use the dough hook on my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. It would have been faster and easier, but truthfully, I really like the feel of working the dough by hand. It is a great way to work out aggression as you knead the dough and brings back fond childhood memories of helping my mom and my grandma as they taught me how to bake.
For the record, I only ate three fresh buns, I gave a dozen away (6 each to two people) and froze the other 15 buns to eat over the next few weeks!


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