Saturday, March 30, 2013

Hot Cross Biscuits

Last year at this time I was in Key West, hanging out in Margarita- Ville, sipping refreshing adult beverages with a herd of sun-kissed locals who were dressed as Easter bunnies in palm tree patterned belly shirts. It was remarkable. Every spring we try to flee northern Minnesota to warmer temps. We very temporarily migrate. We have not done this yet this year, and it is starting to show. I have lost my glow. But a trip is in the works, and there are warmer temperatures in our future. So I'm coming back with some spring in my step!

I have always wanted to literally roast the Easter bunny for Easter. I have only eaten rabbit a few times in my life, and those few experiences were great. I thought it would be wonderful to instill the flavors of rabbit in my family's memories to share with future generations. A family tradition of eating the Easter bunny. Maybe with a mustard sauce and fresh spring peas. Unfortunately rabbit is difficult to get your hands on in northern Minnesota. I was thinking that I still lived in Minneapolis and could just stop on by Clancey's meat market and grab a rabbit or two, a slab of pork belly, and maybe some fois gras to go with that batch of freshly made rhubarb jam. But I am no where near a Clancey's meat market, nor did I make rhubarb jam. So I was off to create a few new traditions.

Easter is more about eating chocolate bunnies and traveling in our household. Today we went to our community Easter egg hunt. We found colorful eggs hidden in the snow, we sipped church basement coffee, and we ate deviled eggs prepared by kind ladies. We had a feast this evening with friends, and the Easter bunny will probably make an appearance at our house later tonight. I also made hot-cross biscuits. Inspired by blogger-Joy the Baker, I couldn't resist wanting to adorn everything I baked this week with cream cheese frosting crosses. Biscuits make smiles happen in our kitchen. It was a match made in heaven. And as Joy the Baker says, 'Jesus would totally be down. I'm almost certain.'.

Hot Cross Biscuits
yields 8-12

3 cups flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
4 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), cold, cut into small cubes
1 large egg
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tsp orange zest
1/2 cup golden raisins, roughly chopped

For the frosting-
2 tablespoons cream cheese, softened
4 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla

Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Add orange zest.  Add cold butter and, using your fingers, work the butter into the flour mixture.  Work quickly to incorporate the butter into the flour.  The butter bits will be the size of small pebbles and oat flakes.
Whisk together egg and buttermilk.
Toss the golden raisins into the dry ingredient mixture, and create a small well in the center of the flour and butter mixture.  Pour in the buttermilk and egg mixture, all at once, and use a fork to incorporate the ingredients.  Make sure that all of the flour bits are moistened by the egg and buttermilk.
Dump the shaggy dough onto a lightly floured work surface.  Bring together, kneading lightly, until the dough forms a 1-inch thick disk.  Use a 2 1/2-inch round biscuit cutter to cut biscuit circles.  Place on the baking sheet.  Gently knead the remaining dough scraps together.  Form into a 1-inch thick disk and cut out more round biscuits until no dough remains.
Brush biscuit tops with buttermilk and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned on top and firm-ish in the center.
Remove from the oven and let cool completely before frosting with a cross.
In a medium bowl, using a firm spatula, blend together 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons cream cheese, cinnamon and 1 cup of powdered sugar.  Add the vanilla and a few drops of water if necessary to get the whole lot to blend evenly.  Mixture will be thick.
Cut a small tip off of a zip lock bag (you can also use a small round cake decorating tip).  Fold down the sides of the bag and scoop the frosting into the bag.  Pipe crosses onto completely cooled biscuits and serve.
Biscuits are best served the day they are made, but will last, well wrapped at room temperature, for one day. Belly up!!