Happy Good Friday!

My husband and I went to NYC in December 2008. IT WAS AMAZING. I had never been there before and he had been there once before, right after 9/11. We stayed with a friend who lived in Greenwich, down the street from The Cosby Show house. I was ECSTATIC to see that house. That is my all time favorite show! Of course the day we chose to walk to the house was the day it was pouring sheets of rain. We returned home soaking wet with a picture of me in front of the house.

Anyway, during one of our outings one day we got lost. Well, it was actually the evening and we weren’t really lost, we were just a long way from ‘home.’ I think we were over 40 blocks away to be exact. And stubborn, oh are we are a stubborn couple. Which meant we wanted to walk home (that was the original plan, and we were sticking to it.dang it). No subway for us, we are tough, not sissy lala California kids. Well, I think we got only about 2 blocks further before we realized, we are freaking hungry. And a hot dog or pizza just isn’t what we wanted. Okay, where’s the Subway.Taxi! Oh wait, the taxi will be like $10. Stubborn and cheap. Subway, must find the subway.

We found a subway station. I have no idea where. But it dropped us off in Union Square. Unknown to us, the rest of the trip we would end up getting on the subway that always went to Union Square. We became quite familiar with that stop. As soon as we got off we headed in the direction of ‘home’ hoping we would see a restaurant we would both agree on. Hello, it’s NYC, there is a restaurant every 2 STEPS.

Max Brenner, what’s this? There’s a wait. Which means 1 thing: it’s probably good. Alright, done and done. I am sure the smell of luxurious cocoa, and butter, and dough, and sugar had NOTHING to do with us declaring this might be our favorite restaurant in NYC.

To keep a long story long, I’ll continue. Jon went back to NYC in December 2009. When he was there I said, “Do you think you can get me a cookbook from Max Brenner?” He went there and told me they were all out. I’m so sure. But oh well, I guess I will find it on Amazon, but it just didn’t seem like the same thing. Well, Christmas morning, Guess what I opened? A copy of the Max Brenner’s new cookbook: Chocolate, A Love Story. AND.AND.AND. It was signed by Max. So rad.

I have stared and stared at the book, but haven’t made anything from it yet. Too many AMAZING ideas and recipes that I think I just didn’t know what to pick first.

Well, I was teaching a cooking class a fews weeks ago and I was teaching them how to make hot cross buns. I suppose I should know how to make them if I am going to teach it, right? I made a batch of hot cross buns a few days prior and they were delicious. But, it seemed like there were so many variations out there, so I wanted to try another recipe. I browsed some recipes and randomly came across this blog. What. A sweet roll from Max Brenner, I NEED to make this. I can add some spices, change up the dried fruit, add some crosses on the top and these can totally be hot cross buns. Based on that information, I can’t call these a Max Brenner recipe. But, I will say they were heavily inspired by his.

Hot Cross Buns
Makes 24 small buns (Even though I say small, they are still about the size of a dinner roll)
1 tablespoon warm water
1 teaspoon honey
1 envelope dry yeast
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 to 2 cups for dusting
2 cup whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup currants
1 cup raisins
1 cup warm milk (warmed in the microwave for about 1 milk)
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large eggs

6 tbsp flour
6 tbsp water (more or less depending on the consistency you want)

1 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp milk

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the water and honey. Add the yeast and stir with a fork until the yeast and honey dissolve. Let the mixture sit until the yeast foams, about 5 to 10 minutes.

Sift together the flours and salt in a medium bowl. Stir in the currants and raisins. Set aside.

Turn the mixer on medium-low speed and gradually add in the milk, butter, sugar and vanilla to the yeast. Continue mixing until thoroughly combined. With the mixer still running, add the eggs one at a time. Slowly add the fruit/flour mixture, making sure to stop when necessary to scrape any flour from the sides of the bowl. Continue mixing until the flour is completely incorporated.

Replace the paddle with the dough hook. Turn the mixer to medium and continue working the dough until it is smooth and sticky (about 2 minutes).

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and continue to work by hand, about 5 minutes longer.
*I used lots of flour on the surface to keep it from sticking. And I also used lots of flour on my hands. I was a little nervous that all the extra flour would have a negative outcome on the buns, NOPE, they were still perfect!

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Set in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
*If you house is cooler, turn on the oven and set the bowl next to the oven so it can stay warm enough. The dough rises best when it is at least 70 degrees in the kitchen. My dough didn’t rise a ton. I continued on to see if the buns would still turn out. THEY DID! They rose a lot in the second rising.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a bakers’ Silpat mat. Punch the dough down and cut into 24 somewhat equal pieces. Hold one piece of dough in both hands and, with your palms facing you, fold the edges of the dough away from you and toward the back of the dough, forming a small, tight, smooth ball. Roll gently to seal the ball. Place seam side down on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough pieces, making sure to space the balls 1 inch apart. Cover and let rise, about 1 1/2 hours.
*all 24 dough balls fit onto 1 baking sheet. it’s okay if they touch as they are rising. They will break apart easily after they bake. And then you only have 1 dish to clean!

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Mix the flour and water for the crosses. Spoon the mixture into a ziplock bag and cut the tip off of a corner of the bag to create a piping bag. Pipe crosses on top of each bun.

Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes.

Mix the powdered sugar and milk in a small bowl and use a pastry brush to brush the glaze on top of each hot bun.

Let cool (but only slightly, the hot buns are delicious) before enjoying.

Spread with jam, butter, cream cheese, honey, peanut butter, pretty much anything…These things are addicting, so beware!