Both of Monday's breads required long sponge fermentation times. We started by making the sponge for the stollen, a mixture of milk, yeast and flour. Chef increased the yeast by 10 g to speed up the process and placed our covered bowls in the warm proofing cabinet for an hour. I know that time builds flavour so I was hoping that our breads would be tastier in return for our patience.
For the hot cross bun pre-dough, we made a very wet mixture of yeast, water and flour, setting it aside for 20 minutes. The main dough contained shortening, milk powder and eggs, along with spices, currants, raisins and mixed peel. We needed a lot of extra flour to make a workable dough. During shaping, we rounded up 75 g balls of dough and let them proof before piping on a water dough. This was a very thin batter of pastry flour, water, oil, sugar and salt (which tasted terrible, according to my partner) that we applied in a thin trail on the proofed loaves. In the oven, these baked into a nice, wide stripe to give the familiar look of hot cross buns.
The stollen sponge was a bit wet too, so we also added additional flour when making the final dough. Lots of eggs in this dough, as well as the fruit and nut mixture that had been macerating since last week. After scaling out the dough, we flattened it into an oval with a rolling pin, then folded in half lengthwise, so that one side did not overlap the other. We sealed the dough by pressing down on it firmly, leaving a lip where the two edges overlapped. Right out of the oven, Chef demonstrated brushing the surface with melted butter to seal it, then dusting it heavily with powdered sugar.
Both of these breads were delicious, full of fruit and Christmas-like flavour. Several people commented on how tender and moist the buns were. I saw stollen (with a marzipan centre) for sale at Whole Foods Market for $20! Good thing I know how to make this bread now, for a fraction of the price!