The recipe comes from Laurel Robertson's cookbook "The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book". Of course the recipe I used varied somewhat from the one in the book. For the bread: Raisins and chopped dates (2 cups total), 1 cup walnuts toasted and then rubbed in a towel to remove the bitter tasting brown skin. 2 Tsp dry yeast, 1/2 cup warm water (to proof the yeast), 6 cups whole wheat flour, 2 tsp salt, 2 large eggs, 3 tbs honey, 1 cup hot water, 1 cup cold buttermilk. I added the salt, the honey and hot water to dissolved the honey and salt. I let it cool down. I proofed the yeast. Using a mixer (Kitchen Aid - Professional 5 - with a dough hook), I then I added the yeast, honey and salt mixture and cold buttermilk to 4 cups of the wheat flour. I then added more wheat flour 1/2 cup at a time until the mixture started to form a dough. Then I added the eggs. I continued to add more flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough formed on the dough hook and pulled away from the sides. I then added 1/4 cup butter cut into small slices. I continued kneading after the butter was fully incorporated for another 7 to 10 minutes. For the last few minutes of kneading I added the dried fruits and nuts. I removed the dough from the bowel did a few rounds of hand kneading and then put into a bowel coated with about 1/2 teaspoon of oil to keep the surface moist during the first proofing. I deflated the dough and let it rise again. After it doubled in size I deflated it again and formed it into small round balls. I put the balls in a heavily greased glass Pyrex baking dish slightly separated but close enough so that the buns would touch after rising (I'm not wild about a lot of crust on these types of buns). After they doubled in size I put them into a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.
Icing: I used one block of 1/3 less fat Philadelphia cream cheese, 1 tsp butter, 3 tsp honey 1/2 tsp cinnamon, and 2 tsp of milk. Using a mixer, I softened the cream cheese and butter. When it was creamy I added the honey and cinnamon and kept mixing. I added just enough milk to make the mixture a spreadable consistency.
She asked me to make something goes with the hot cross buns for breakfast. I made creamy scrambled egg with shiitake mushrooms garnished with asparagus tips. If I had, I would have made this with black truffle but no such luck this time. I made the scrambled eggs very soft and creamy by using a double boiler or "bain marie". Since I will not totally cook and harden the eggs, I used pasturized eggs with the addition of cream.
I sautéed fresh shiitake mushroom (4, medium sized stem removed and finely chopped) and shallot (1, medium, finely chopped) in butter (2 tsp) until soft (several minutes) seasoned with salt and freshly cracked white pepper and set aside to cool.
I beat the eggs well and strained them to remove any clumps of egg white and chalaza (3, pasteurized eggs) which will make an unpleasant congealed hard spot in an otherwise creamy scrambled eggs; situation similar to making "chawanmushi" 茶碗蒸し.
On a bain marie (gently simmering hot water), I melted butter (1 thin pat, less than1 tsp) and when the butter melted, I added the beaten eggs and the sautéed shallot and shiitake mushroom. I gently mixed it with a silicon spatula while scraping the bottom and the sides. After few minutes, eggs started to congeal. I added salt and freshly cracked white pepper and mixed more vigorously until it was cooked but nicely creamy. I took the pan from the bain marie just before it reached the desired doneness and kept stirring.
I used egg-shaped small glass containers as you see on the left of the above image. On the right of the image above, the lid was open revealing the contents. I garnished it with slices of shiitake mushroom (sautéed) and asparagus tips (microwaved and cut in half lengthwise).
The creamy scrambled eggs were infused with the shiitake flavor. The slow cooking over the bain marie and the addition of cream and butter made the scrambled eggs like soft custard. The hot cross buns were also excellent. They had the nice nutty flavor of whole wheat that combined well with the roasted walnuts, dates and raisins. The icing was not too sweet but had rich flavor that complemented the buns--a great combination.