HOT CROSS BUNS with DULCE de LECHE (ARGENTINIAN CARAMEL) and MASCARPONE:
This recipe was inspired and adapted from Neil Roake’s fabulous book ‘Shiny Happy People’.
HOT CROSS BUNS: Put half a cup of Milk, half a cup of Buttermilk, half a cup of Raw Sugar, half a stick of Unsalted Butter, the zest of one whole Orange, and a quarter cup of Water in a saucepan and heat gently until the butter melts. Set aside. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl add 3 cups of all purpose flour, 1 teaspoon of Salt, a pinch of mixed spice, half a teaspoon of ground Cinnamon, 1 tablespoon-ish of Candied Ginger finely sliced, and about two thirds of a cup of dried fruit. I like small black Currants and Candied Orange Peel. (I like a lot of peel!) Use our judgement, there needs to be enough dried fruit sprinkled through-out. If you like big plump Golden Raisins add them too, or sweet dried cranberries, etc. Sprinkle one packet of yeast into the dry mixture. When the liquid in the saucepan is lukewarm, add one Beaten Egg. Pour the liquid mixture into the dry flour /fruit mixture and push together gently until a dough forms. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave the dough to rise overnight. Preheat oven to 320 degrees. Divide the dough into 12 equal squares. Place the squares, pushed together, on a greased baking sheet. They need not be perfect. Bake the buns for 15 minutes. While they are baking roll out some store-bought puff pastry. (I try to keep some home made pastry on hand in my freezer in little wedges to pull out for pie dough, and what not) Cut the puff pastry into 24 strips. This will be the crosses. Take the buns out of the oven and add the crosses. Beat one egg with some water and using a pastry brush quickly brush the tops of the buns. Turn the oven up to 350 degrees and put the buns back in for another 15 minutes. Don’t overcook, you want them to be moist, but golden. Serve with Argentinian caramel (dulce de leche, below, or if you are in a pinch, grab a jar from Wholefoods) and creamy Mascarpone. (You could even try it with local Ricotta if you prefer) Makes 1 dozen.
NOTE: Dough will not rise much overnight. These buns are very dense traditional-type cakes, and they’re not overly sweet. To eat them a day or two after baking, just slice in half and then pop them in the toaster. Apply Mascarpone and Dulce de Leche, (or if you like, butter, golden syrup or even honey will work just as well).
DULCE de LECHE (ARGENTINIAN CARAMEL): Adapted from David Lebovitz-Livng the sweet life in Paris
Pour one can of Sweetened Condensed Milk into a pyrex dish which has been placed inside a baking dish, filled half way up with water. (David advises to stir in a few flecks of sea salt too) Cover the pyrex dish/condensed milk with foil and place into a preheated 425 degree oven for 1 to 1 and a quarter hours. Peek occasionally, and refill water in outside baking dish, as necessary. When the Dulce is thick and deep caramel in color, remove, gently and stir. Put into a serving jug and pour warm over the freshly baked Hot Cross Buns which have been smeared liberally with Mascarpone cream.