It's almost Easter time and do I have a special treat for you my Dearest Darlingest Reader! Every year you all have loved the special Easter bun recipe which makes the softest bakery style buns using the tangzhong method. And every year I create a new flavour and this year's is Easter Bunny themed...Carrot Cake Hot Cross Buns! These spiced carrot, walnut and pineapple hot cross buns are sandwiched with a layer of cream cheese icing giving it that unmistakeable carrot cake flavour but in a bun!
I will admit that I did have some reservations. I don't know if I've made these buns too complicated. In their defence a batch of these (only!) took a few hours. I promise it isn't a fiddly recipe with 7 separate, significant components like some French patisserie recipes can be. The tangzhong roux is so wonderful because just one tiny small step makes the softest bread that stays fresh for longer.
I've made so many different types of hot cross buns with this method over the years so if carrot cake hot cross buns doesn't tickle your fancy try Nutella swirl hot cross buns, Apple & Cinnamon hot cross bun, Finger Bun hot cross bun. These recipes don't use the tangzhong method but you could easily adapt them or do them as they are: Cinnamon Choc Chip Hot Cross Buns, Spiced Honey Buttered Hot Cross Buns..
Don't have bread flour? Use plain all purpose flour instead. Bread flour is scarce nowadays and you'll still get a wonderful result using regular flour.
Where to buy flour? Flour is scarce during this COVID-19 crisis but search for wholesalers or restaurants, even bakeries nowadays are selling flour, usually in large bags. In Sydney Two Providores in Marrickville is selling 12.5kg bags of flour for $20 and they also deliver for a fee of $25 or you can prepay and pick up.
Leftover Hot Cross Buns? If you have leftover hot cross buns (actually never really an issue here) you can freeze them easily. I cut them in half and then wrap them in two layers of parchment paper. Or make this luscious Hot Cross Bun and Easter Egg bread pudding.
Want to make this in the Thermomix? Take a look at my Thermomix Hot Cross Bun Recipe adaption here! The tangzhong roux step is super easy in a Thermomix.
I thought about ways to cut down the steps to make it less intimidating. I mean you could forego the crosses if you want but they are traditional and are really just mixing flour and water together. I'd say you definitely don't want to forego the glaze because it makes them visually appealing and you don't want to forego the cream cheese frosting if you're after the carrot cake flavour. If you do I'm afraid you'll gristle at me because it won't taste like carrot cake like that.
I try not to make things unnecessarily complicated. I love nothing more than finding a quick hack or an easier way to do things. There was a time back during my advertising agency days where I made things really complicated. I worked in media which is all about spending ad dollars and a large part of my life was presenting reports to clients. It was a bit of a snoozefest really.
Most clients didn't really care and they basically wanted a thumbs up or a thumbs down about a campaign's success. But we had to persevere with presenting these reports. I was known for a particular type of chart, the spider chart. Oh how I loved a spider chart.
Without exception my client's eyes would glaze over and I'd talk about the various points of data on spider chart. The only problem was that sometimes they were so complicated that I would forget the point I was trying to make but they were already checked out and more than once I managed to get out of it based purely on the fact that they didn't understand what was in front of them! They'd say, "Oh my god, not another of Lorraine's spider charts," at which point I was tempted to put in nonsense data to see if I could get away with it!
So tell me Dear Reader, do you ever lose your train of thought? Do you like carrot cake? Have you ever tried the tangzhong method?
If you make these please tag me on social media using #notquitenigella :)
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE? Share your creations by tagging @notquitenigella on Instagram with the hashtag #notquitenigella
Carrot Cake Hot Cross Buns!
An Original Recipe by Lorraine Elliott
Preparation time: 30 minutes plus 1.5 hours rise
Cooking time: 35 minutes
- 1/6 cup/22g flour
- 1/2 cup water
- 3/4 cup milk
- 50g/1.7ozs. butter
- 1 egg
- 1.5 teaspoons salt
- 2 3/4 cup bread or plain all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons instant dried yeast
- 2.5 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2.5 teaspoons ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 carrot, grated
- 1/2 cup walnuts, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup pineapple, crushed and very well drained (v important, press the pineapple against a sieve and remove as much liquid as possible)
- 40g/1.4ozs. flour
- 4-5 tablespoons water
- 1/8 cup caster or superfine sugar
- 1/8 cup boiling water
- 1/2 teaspoon gelatin powder
For Cream Cheese Icing
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 125g/4ozs. cream cheese, room temperature
- 75g/2.7ozs. butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch salt
Step 1 - First make the tangzhong roux for the buns. Whisk the 1/6 cup flour with the 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan and place on medium heat. Heat up to 65C/149F watching it carefully. Then whisk in the milk, butter, egg and salt and whisk until lumps dissolve.
Step 2 - In the bowl of an electric mixer whisk the flour, two types of sugar, yeast, cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Add the milky flour roux and mix with a spatula to combine. Knead with a dough hook until the dough is very elastic and you get the window pane effect (where you can gently pull the dough apart and it becomes so thin you can almost see through it without it breaking). It can take anything from 10-15 minutes on the lowest speed of a mixer to do this. For this reason I don't recommend kneading this by hand unless you are a complete masochist.
Say no to cracks on top of your dough!
Step 3 - Shape into a ball with no cracks on the top and cover and allow to rise to double the size. Punch down and knead in the carrot, walnuts and pineapple. This will be a fairly sticky mixture (that's why draining pineapple is very, very important). Line a baking tray with parchment and shape 12 to 13 buns (I have the extra bun as my cook's treat). You will probably need some more flour so that it doesn't stick. Place on the lined tray a little bit apart from each other and allow to rise for 30 minutes or so. After 30 minutes they should sit against each other but not too snugly.
Troubleshooting: your dough will be sticky but try not to add too much flour. A little is fine because flour varies from supplier to batch but adding too much will affect the texture of the buns. Instead, add a little flour and then lightly oil your hands just before shaping them.
Step 4 - Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Just before the end of the second rise, mix the flour and water together for the crosses and place in a piping bag or a small zip lock bag. Snip off the end and pipe crosses over the buns. Bake for 30 minutes.
Buns should be snug but not too tight
Step 5 - 5 minutes before the baking time is up, mix the sugar, boiling water and gelatine together to make up the glaze. As soon as the buns come out of the oven, glaze the hot buns and allow to cool.
Step 6 - You can serve these with plain butter but for the real carrot cake flavour make the cream cheese icing. Process the icing sugar in a small food processor to get rid of lumps. Then add the cream cheese, butter, vanilla and salt and process until smooth. Split open a bun and slather with plenty of cream cheese icing.