The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Hot Cross Buns Help: how to get shop-bought squidgy-ness

will-you-wont's picture
will-you-wont

Hot Cross Buns Help: how to get shop-bought squidgy-ness

Hi all,

I'm brand new here so please forgive me if this is a well-covered topic. I went through five or so search pages and hadn't found anything that fitted my query.

I've made hot cross buns for years and have always been ambivalent about the results. They always have a firm dome, relatively dry crumb and harden pretty quickly. They also almost always use an apricot jam glaze, which renders them nigh on untouchable.

They never, ever, ever have that dense squidgy-ness that you get from UK supermarket versions (perhaps abroad too, but my HCB research hasn't gone international...yet). I love that dense squidge. I probably shouldn't, it's probably terrible bread, it probably makes me a terrible baker, but recreating it has become a decade long obsession.

I thought I'd found the answer in tangzhong, but tried that today and they still have a drier crumb and a crust. I'm starting to consider mochi flour as a possibility but this seems unlikely to be in common use in the UK.

From what I can tell, supermarket HCBs don't maintain a dome shape - they seem to collapse in on themselves. I also once bought a pack from Tescos only to discover the dough was still raw inside, all of which makes me think they're cooked remarkably quickly and maybe deflate like a cake.

The ingredients on packs contain added emulsifiers and acids – I don't know if these would really contribute to a squidgy dough or are simply there to long-life them. I've never used them and would like to avoid them if possible. The supermarket also contains a lot more oil, in place of the butter more often seen in homemade. Enough to make a difference?

Turns out I'm not alone. Love her or hate her, Mary Berry even said mid-bun bake that supermarket HCBs were always better than homemade.

Is there a way to marry the two, online experts? Can anyone offer advice on changing ingredients, method or cook time?

Thanks!

albacore's picture
albacore

What flour are you using?

Lance

will-you-wont's picture
will-you-wont

This time round I used normal plain white flour, but have previously used white bread flour with little difference in the results.

 

will-you-wont's picture
will-you-wont

FYI Re rising agents:  I haven't tried a sourdough version yet (I can't honestly see that making the dough less dry) and I don't currently have fresh yeast, so used dried.

albacore's picture
albacore

IDY is fine. I've had the best results using an 11% protein bread flour - a bit weaker than most UK BF which is usually 12-13%. This lower protein flour gives a softer, less chewy and moister crumb.

Possible sources are T500 German or Polish or an Italian 0 or 00 pizza flour, at 10.7 or 11.0%. There are UK bread flours at 11%, but you usually have to buy a full sack.

You will also need the right amount of fat in there - I use a butter and olive oil mix at 14%.

Lance

will-you-wont's picture
will-you-wont

I have a lot of 00, so I'll give that a go with the fat ratio – thanks so much for the suggestions.

Just to pick your brains while I have you, any preference over milk or water? What % hydration? And any advice on cook times? I've seen them range from 10 minutes to 30, all around 180°/170°c fan.

albacore's picture
albacore

Milk/water 50/50.

Bake on double sheet, no bake stone, top and bottom preheat 210C / no fan.

7m 210C, bottom heat only

7m 190C, top and bottom heat

7m 175C, top and bottom heat

I'll post a full recipe in a few days time, bear with me.

Lance

will-you-wont's picture
will-you-wont

You're a star! Thank you so much, Lance, looking forward to the recipe and will be trying it as soon as the last batch are polished off!

Jo 

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi Lance with the fat at 14% what is your sugar rate? Most of my fruit doughs i have made the sugar is double the fat ratio, but in a conscious effort to use less sugar i dial that back a bit these days and usually the fat too and keep the fat   to sugar  ratio the same. 5 or 6% to 10 -12%.

regards Derek

albacore's picture
albacore

Sugar is 17%, Derek.

 

Lance

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Thanks. Lance that is quite a high amount of fat and sugar do you reduce the salt to 1% as i do with a fruit dough?

albacore's picture
albacore

Pretty standard amounts I reckon, Derek - and a lot less fat and sugar than a panettone; everyone seems pretty happy with those.

And really, they should only be eaten at Easter (!)

Salt at 0.6%.

Lance

will-you-wont's picture
will-you-wont

All of this is in the hope that I'll find the right recipe by good Friday...

but I must admit I eat HCBs whenever I remember their existence!

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi Willy

Commercially these HCB fruit doughs in most supermarkets will be high speed mixer Instant doughs  and here in Australia available just about all year round so nothing special when it comes around to Easter.  There are so many variations too, choc chip, fruitless, even agnostic (cross less). Of course there will be lots of stuff in there that often only gets described with numerals but you can look those up, but are usually additives emulsifiers ,hydrogenated fats or oils.

I had a chef colleague that insisted on ordering a particular bread fat that had an improver incorporated in it for the bread rolls that were made for the restaurant, it was far  more expensive than butter that we used to order in anyway, and Butter was on government contract. i challenged him to a test, two comparisons the finished product, was either one superior, No! so a taste test we would both eat a tea spoon of the product, i consumed the butter easily,  i never had to order it in again. Even the chemical smell was off putting.

The bread improvers that bakers use for Instant doughs may be worth a try and you dont need much usually about 1% and you could probably ask your friendly baker for some to try, it cuts out the bulk fermentation  just mix shape and bake. They do have one on the shelves of our supermarket s but i have never tried it. I have used the ones from bakers shops  and for things like bun doughs where there are so many ingredients contributing to nice flavours reliance on Bulk fermentation for taste is possibly less important.     Personally a fruit loaf that has BF'd for 4 hours is hard to beat with the dried fruit fully plumped up, and knocking back a large mix 1000lbs of fully fermented fruit dough with the release of those gasses into the air around you is heaven  and a memory that stays with you.                                                                            There are many pages on HCB's our TFL search function and i guess lots of folk will be looking at making some Hot Cross Buns very soon. good luck with your quest.

Kind regards Derek

pmccool's picture
pmccool

That might be a way to improve softness/tenderness that the OP is looking for, without resorting to the dough conditioners that commercial bakeries use.

Paul

yozzause's picture
yozzause

It could make them nice and soft and tender not sure  whether it would give the SQUIDGY effect that is being sought. Unfortunately if you are wanting to emulate what you get commercially at the supermarket you might have to go down their  route  too, 

I cant see too many commercial bakers going the Tanzhong route that we might choose to adopt for a super soft bun.

Derek

will-you-wont's picture
will-you-wont

I tried tangzhong yesterday, Paul, and honestly the buns became awful within 24 hours. Still dry, still un...squidgy.

I think the recipe's hydration was off though. I am new to tangzhong but as far as I've been told, it shouldn't be counted in the overall hydration %. The recipe I used took half of its liquid content to make the tangzhong, thereby taking it out of the overall hydration and rendering it incredibly low (despite the fact the dough was sticky overall). Maybe I have misunderstood.

I too thought tangzhong was the long-awaited answer - maybe another go but with adjusted hydration would be worth it. There are a few Japanese convenience store breads that have a squidgy quality, but I often assumed that was the use of mochi flour.

pmccool's picture
pmccool

Too bad that it didn’t work out.  

Paul

will-you-wont's picture
will-you-wont

Interesting stuff, I've never used bread improvers and it seems miraculous to just mix, shape and bake. A far cry from sourdough! 

I did do a search for HCBs on TFL and got about five pages deep into the forum without any mention of the consistency I'm looking for. I'll keep digging, but if you say bread improvers may work then that might be the answer. I had rather hoped to find a solution that didn't involve such manufactured extras (it does feel a little like cheating) but that might be wishful thinking on my part... Thanks Derek!

albacore's picture
albacore

One of the squidgyist loaves you can get (in a nice sort of way) is an English malt loaf. Here is a fine example that I have previously made.

So I am just thinking that the addition of some malt extract might give you the texture you are looking for. Obviously nothing like the amount in that recipe; maybe start by replacing half the sugar, about 8%.

To be clear, the malt extract to use is standard non-diastatic syrup type (there is endless confusion regarding ND vs diastatic malt on TFL).

Lance

will-you-wont's picture
will-you-wont

Malt loaf is actually a really good idea in terms of squidyness, thanks! I have absolutely no experience with malt extract so thanks for the heads up. I'll get researching!

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Hi Willy you haven't filled in any of your details so when we click on your avatar there is no information as to where in this big wide world you are. (it does help if we try to advise where you might find certain things like liquid Malt extract etc) If you clik on Albacore  (Lance) we can see he comes from deepest Lancashire in the UK  and no suprise that they know a lot about Malt Loaf in that part of the world . click on mine Yozzause (Derek) and it shows that i'm from Perth Western Australia The most isolated City in the World Even more so with Covid.

i think Lance is correct Malt Extract can have that claggy effect if used in higher quantities.  

Interestingyly you commented that it seemed miraculous that there are bread improvers that allow dough to be made shaped proved and baked with no bulk fermentation, that why they call it wonder bread . but i hasten to say that many people are turning away from this Hi speed  fast produced bread and embracing the older style of bread making .

Derek

will-you-wont's picture
will-you-wont

Hi Derek,

Thanks, I've updated my profile so that I'm not such a lonely island. I'm based in London/Surrey, UK.

To be honest, I've baked bread since I was a wee bairn – though sourdough is a more recent endeavour – so am much more familiar with the old style as you call it. I don't often eat it from supermarkets, so the making of wonder bread is pretty foreign to me! 

I'm new to malt too (new to a lot of things, evidently) but my experience of malt loaves is it has quite the strong flavour. Is that the case?

Jo

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Well done there Jo.  I used to live just a bit further down the railway line  from Gulidford in Surrey  i grew up in Hampshire, the village of Liss and went to Petersfield  school. When we were kids we used to be given a big spoon of malt and codliver oil if i recall rightly. about once a week. Over here we can buy a can of Malt at the supermarket and it tends to last me the best part of a year you can also get it from home brew shops  in quite a few different varieties and styles that brewers require it is also available in powdered form  but i have found that to be  a bit of a problem as its hygroscopic. 

You would be familiar with Soreen malt loaf is that the squiggy that you are seeking. i dont know whether i would classify malt as strong Flavour i still enjoy licking the spoon after measuring it out!

regards Derek

Yippee's picture
Yippee

It tasted terrible! When I was a kid, I gagged every time when I had to eat it!

Yippee 

yozzause's picture
yozzause

The malt i buy doesn't have the cod liver oil with it.

albacore's picture
albacore

Yippee, I think the cod liver oil was mixed with the malt to hide its horrible flavour!

 

Lance

yozzause's picture
yozzause

Thats the cod liver oil flavour not the malt, but can understand being put off.

Mind you if you think thats bad try a very small piece of compressed yeast on your tongue, was an apprentice initiation  trick.

alpaca's picture
alpaca

Forgive the obvious question, but have you tried decreasing the bake time?

If you reduce it too much, the insides will be raw, but maybe the squidgyness you desire is somewhere in between that and your current too-dry bake time?

albacore's picture
albacore

Jo, another idea as an alternative to malt extract might be to make a German style pre-dough known as a cook piece or aroma piece. I expained the process in this post.

 

Lance