Thu 7 Mar 2019
Read other related stories: Appetizer/Snack , Dessert , Gas Grill Techniques , indirect cooking
I know – hot cross buns are traditionally enjoyed during lent and holy Easter weekend. The basic recipe dates to the 12th century and is known as a sweet dough ball. Did you know that pretty much any recipe can be made on a grill or smoker, including hot cross buns?
I’m going to take a traditional hot cross bun recipe and make it using the grill with wood chunks for added flavor and the cooking. Don’t worry that this is a recipe that involves yeast. You don’t have to know everything about bread making to make this recipe work. You can add the dried fruit of your choice to customize the flavors as well as selecting the hardwood you like best.
Let’s get started so you can enjoy the SmokinLicious® version of Hot Cross Buns Wood Fired any time of year!
Yeast Makes Dough
These buns start with yeast blooming. We are using active-dry yeast in our dough which means it must be re-activated in water. Start by pouring water that is between 105° and 155°F into a large bowl and sprinkle 2-1/4 teaspoons of active-dry yeast and 1 tablespoon of sugar over the water. Stir the mixture to dissolve the ingredients and let stand until foamy which will take about 10 minutes. Then add ½ cup sugar minus 1 tablespoon, 1 cup of warm milk, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg, and ¼ cup of softened butter. Mix well then add 3 cups of all-purpose flour. Beat with the paddle attachment of a mixer until smooth and elastic.
After beating the initial dry ingredients, it’s time to add the eggs. Do this step by adding one egg at a time for a total of 3 eggs. Once the eggs are mixed in, add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 cup of dried fruit of your choice such as currants, raisins, chopped apricots, and/or candied citrus. I’m including currants in my dough. Once mixed well, add 3 cups of additional flour ½ cup at a time, until a soft dough emerges. Next, it will be time to turn the dough out on a work surface.
These are traditionally a drier sweet dough. That means you want to use dry fruit items in order to prevent the dough from becoming too moist. Feel free to expand on the options for the fruit and use combinations that are pleasing to your palate.
Patience Is Key
After adding all the ingredients to our hot cross bun dough, it’s time to turn the dough out and begin to proof also known as rising of the dough. Start by turning the mixed dough out on a lightly floured work surface. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, then form into a circle. Grease a large bowl and place the rounded dough into the greased bowl, turning the dough once to ensure it is coated with the grease on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise in a warm place until double in volume. This will take about 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
Once the dough has proofed and doubled in size, it’s time to punch it down. This is a step that releases some of the gas bubbles that have formed by the yeast during the rising time. Once the dough has the gas released, cover it with a bowl on a dry surface and let stand for 10 minutes. After that time, divide the dough in half and then quarters. For each quarter, cut into six equal pieces. Roll each dough portion into a ball and place on a greased sheet pan, spacing 1-1/2 inches apart. This is a good time to start the grill by lighting only half the burners and placing a smoker box with wood chunks on the hot side. We’ll be aiming for a grill temperature of 375°F.
Grill-Baking with Hardwood
With our grill lit using a two-zone cooking method and wood chunks of maple, white oak, and cherry in the smoker box on the hot side of the grill, it’s time to finish off the hot cross bun dough. After spacing the dough balls on a sheet pan, I allowed them to rise for about 30 minutes. Using the white of one large egg and a teaspoon of water mixed together, I brush each of the 24 dough balls with the egg wash. Using a small, sharp knife, cut a cross in the top of each roll no more than ½ inch deep. Place one sheet pan of rolls on the unlit side of the grill and cook until golden brown which takes about 25-30 minutes. I like to rotate my sheet pan ½ way through the cooking time for more even coloring to the rolls. When finished, transfer the grilled rolls to cooling racks.
I’m using a ½ sheet pan for my cooking but note that standard cookie sheets will work well. If using the ½ sheet pan, your grill area may not be large enough to accommodate the pan while closing the lid completely. I simply grill with the lid partially open, adjust my temperature control knobs to ensure the 375°F remains stable.
While the buns are cooking on the grill, you can prepare the icing that will go on top of the finish buns. Start by mixing together 1 cup of sifted powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, 1 teaspoon lemon zest, and 1-1/2 tablespoons of milk. You can adjust the thickness of the finished icing by adding drops of milk if you want it thinner. Just be sure that when you add this to a pastry bag, you will be able to push it out in a steady stream and don’t find that it pours out on its own.
Here’s my tip for filling a pastry bag. Tip-I like to use the disposable bags for icings. Click To Tweet I simply roll down the bag about half-way to form a cuff. I place the pointed side of the pastry bag into the opening of a roll of paper towels. This allows me to scrap every bit of icing from the bowl without worrying about the pastry bag. I leave the filled pastry bag in the roll until the buns are cool enough for applying the icing.
The Perfect Sweet Dough Treat with a Kick of Wood Flavor
After making our hot cross bun dough from scratch, allowing the dough to proof, then dividing into our individual buns. We baked these on the gas grill set up two-zone method: a hot side that we added three hardwood chunks to using a smoker box on the grill grate. The buns were placed on the unlit side of the grill and baked at 375°F for approximately 30 minutes, rotating the pan just one time. Once cooled, we added lemon icing crosses to each bun. We do this by working with twelve buns at a time, lining them up on the sheet pan tightly to each other. Using the pastry bag of icing, I place a steady stream of icing vertically on each bun, then do the same horizontally for each row, forming a cross. Allow the icing to set and then serve.
Although hot cross buns are associated with a specific time of the year, SmokinLicious® feels these are a sweet dough treat to be enjoyed any time of the year. And, they are best when made on outdoor equipment that can include natural hardwood for unbelievable flavor.
If served warm, you’ll pick up more of the wood smoke flavoring Click To Tweet these buns were exposed to on the grill. Adding a bit of butter makes them even sweeter!
What’s your favorite dried fruit to add to hot cross buns? Comment to let us know. Bringing innovation to wood fired cooking with recipes, techniques and the science behind the fire, smoke, and flavor. That’s SmokinLicious®.
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