Easter Morning Milk Tea Honey Buns

by Caterina Borg, Good Food Gourmet on April 5, 2015

Milk Tea Honey Buns, www.goodfoodgourmet.comEnjoying a soft, warm hot cross bun from the local bakery along with a cup of milk tea was an annual tradition we enjoyed every Easter. Honestly, there really isn’t anything better. In those days in Australia, drinking coffee was almost an unknown past time.

The sweet rolls I remember just melted in your mouth. They were so soft and tender, and almost like a fresh donut. The ones I remember were filled with not only currants but also other dried fruits and citrus rind and topped with either a glaze, powdered sugar or a whipped butter frosting and dusted with some dried coconut. I was never too keen on the dried citrus, so when I make them at home, I usually use either raisins or currants. I wanted to re-create this nostalgic taste and texture, so I set out to do things a little different this year.

There are so many recipes for hot cross buns – some quite simple and others made richer with the addition of milk and butter. I started with a simple recipe but chose to make it richer by using evaporated milk instead of whole milk because evaporated milk imparts more richness to baked goods. I decided to steep some tea in the evaporated milk for added fragrance and color to the sweet roll and I also tossed the currants into some hot tea instead of plain water — just to carry on with the same theme. I wanted to use the remaining steeped milk/tea to make a glaze to top the buns as they came out of the oven so that it would soak into every little crevice of the rolls.  Would the final result be a disappointment or was it possible to make this annual English treat even more English? Would these little twists to the recipe add a little something extra to an otherwise traditional hot cross bun?

The result was a beautifully tender roll that was perfectly sweet. The bread was more fragrant because of the tea as an ingredient in the dough. It was delicately glazed with the remainder of the steeped milk and so reminiscent of what I grew up with but even better than I remember. Move over tradition, there’s a new kid on the block…

Milk Tea Honey Buns, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Milk Tea Honey Buns
2 ½ teaspoons rapid rise yeast
1-14 ounce can of evaporated milk
2 bags of very good quality English tea
2 eggs, room temperature
5 tablespoons Honey Ridge raw honey
3 ¾ – 4cups cups flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup currants
1 cup hot water
Oil for bowl
Egg wash (1 egg plus a few tablespoons of water)
NOTE: If you choose not to use honey, you may use ¼ to ½ cup sugar, depending on how sweet you want the rolls. I think ¼ cup works best because you will also have some sweetness from the currants and the glaze.

A few hours before you plan to begin making the dough, boil 1 cup of water and use 1 of the tea bags listed above  to make a cup of tea. Pour this tea into a small bowl and add the dried currants to the bowl. Allow them to steep in the hot tea until they have plumped up and are completely cool, then drain them and set them aside.

Milk Tea Honey Buns, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Pour one can of evaporated (NOT CONDENSED) milk into a small pot and heat it until almost boiling then remove from heat and place the remaining tea bag in the milk. Allow this to steep in the milk for at least 30 minutes or until the milk has cooled down and is warm to the touch.

Milk Tea Honey Buns, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Place the 2 ½ teaspoons of rapid rise yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer. Measure out 1 cup of the warm, steeped milk and pour it into the yeast. There will be a little more milk leftover, but don’t throw this away because it will be used to make the milk tea glaze. Use a whisk and mix the yeast and the milk together until the yeast is completely dissolved. Add the 2 eggs into the mixture and whisk again. Next add 3 ½ cups of flour, baking powder, salt, honey (or sugar) and the currants which have been well drained from the tea. Attach the bowl to the mixer and use a paddle to mix all of the ingredients together until it begins to form a stiff dough. Slowly add the softened stick of butter. The butter will loosen the dough to where it begins to stick on the sides, so add the remaining flour a little at a time until the dough comes together again in the bowl.

Milk Tea Honey Buns, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Milk Tea Honey Buns, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Milk Tea Honey Buns, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Depending on the humidity in your environment, it may or may not take all of the remaining flour. They key is just to add a little at a time until it comes together. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a medium sized bowl and use your hand to spread the oil evenly inside the bowl. Put the dough ball into the oiled bowl and swirl it around to coat the dough ball well with oil. Cover this with plastic and dish towels and allow it to rise in a warm place until doubled.

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Once doubled, push down the dough and weigh out balls of dough. Do not make them larger than 2.5oz, otherwise they will be too big. Place them on a greased sheet pan or on a sheet tray lined with parchment paper and either bake them close together or as individual rolls. Cover loosely again with plastic wrap and dish towels and allow the rolls to double in size.

Milk Tea Honey Buns, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Milk Tea Honey Buns, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Milk Tea Honey Buns, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

When they are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350°F. Brush the rolls gently with egg wash and bake until golden brown.

Milk Tea Honey Buns, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly then spoon over the milk tea glaze.

Milk Tea Honey Buns, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Milk Tea Honey Buns, www.goodfoodgourmet.com

Milk Tea Glaze
2-3  teaspoons of the remaining steeped milk
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

Sift the powdered sugar into a medium bowl, add the vanilla and add enough milk to make a thick glaze without any lumps. if there are lumps, keep stirring.

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