On this road trip, we’ve noticed the different types of place names that you can find in Australia. Words from England, Scotland, other places in Europe, and from the Aboriginal languages.
We have our share of Inverary, Baden Powell, New England, Kingston, even Neuhaus. Words from the old world. Then, we have words from our first people, strange and beautiful sounds. Araluen, Adaminaby, Cootamundra, Tumbarumba, Wagga Wagga, Wee Waa, Jindabyne, Gundagai.
A trip into regional Australia becomes a jumble of these names and sounds. A pair of city slickers finding new sights and sounds, new air to breathe.
We have seen a lake and a river (any large body of water inland of our dry continent is a mesmerising sight); so many cows and sheep, and glimpses of the Snowy Mountains. We have also seen old train stations with cast iron lace, rusty sheds, ruined timber bridges. And that’s only the first few days.
I knew we would be on the road, so I made hot cross buns early this year, and using sourdough starter called Patrick, no less! I’ve nurtured wee Patrick since Christmas, but have only started baking with him.
This first excursion into enriched dough was… an adventure. Patrick wasn’t as lively as he could have been, so the buns were a tad dense. Still, they were appropriately chewy and flavoursome, with just enough sour to add flavour and not so much as to overwhelm the sweetness.
I think Patrick is game to take other breads, when we come back from this road trip. Right now, he’s probably pondering future bread-y fun. Or, maybe he’s dreaming of gate-crashing Angie’s Fiesta Friday dressed as hot cross buns – !
Sourdough hot cross buns
220g white flour
200g strong white flour
50g wholemeal flour
75g brown sugar
1/2 tsp allspice, 1/2 tsp ground ginger, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, 1 tsp cinnamon
5g olive oil
25g caster sugar
1. Starter: Mix the ingredients together and leave for ~12 hours or overnight.
2. Soak 250g dried fruit (currants, raisins, candied peel) in boiling water, and leave for 12 hours.
3. Dough: Melt the butter and mix into the dry ingredients.
Add starter and fruit. Mix/knead briefly, leave for 10 minutes.
4. Knead: Repeat the kneading until the dough becomes shiny and silky. Leave to proof / bulk for 3-4 hours, with folds every hour. (I just hand kneaded the relatively sloppy dough every hour or so.)
5. Proof: Divide into 14 x 90g (~12 x 100g) balls, shape into balls/buns as though you are shaping miniature bread loaves.
6. Put in fridge overnight, or leave on the counter to proof for 2-3 hours (as I did). Mine didn’t puff up very much, but they should become at least 1.5 times in size.
7. In the final 30 minutes of proofing or in the next morning, preheat the oven to 200C / 390 F.
8. Decorate: Then, make piping mix by mixing the piping ingredients together. Brush tops of buns with milk. Pipe crosses into the proofed buns.
9. Bake: Bake for ~25 mins. Another baker suggested baking at a slightly higher temperature (400F) for 5-10 minutes, and then reducing the temperature slightly (maybe 380F?) for the remainder of the time, to get a browner crust, but mine seemed browned and glossy enough without changing baking temperature.
10. Glaze: Make sugar syrup by simmering sugar and water in a saucepan until the sugar is dissolved, and then a minute or two. Glaze warm buns with sugar syrup after they come out of the oven.