I love hot cross buns! I eat shop-bought ones all year round but, at Easter, there is something very special about home-made ones. My mum makes home-made hot cross buns every Easter and it is something that I have really missed for the last couple of years, so this year, I decided it was time to learn to make my own.
I started practising a couple of weeks ago when I attempted a “quick and easy” recipe that I found – which involved no kneading. Unfortunately, it turns out that “quick and easy” doesn’t really work! Or not when I tried anyway! Although the resulting buns had a nice flavour, they didn’t really rise at were very stodgy! Next attempt was in the bread-maker, which is really EHH’s realm! He followed the recipe in the book which came with the bread-maker. These buns were ok, but were fairly bland and missing the nice spicy hit that I like in hot cross buns. They also didn’t have quite the right home-made feel to them.
So Good Friday arrived and I decided that there really isn’t a shortcut to proper tasty home-made hot cross buns. I went with the recipe in last month’s Good Food magazine – the recipe was actually for a bun ring but worked fine just as normal buns. I added extra spice and lemon zest as I like my hot cross buns with lots of flavour! I actually enjoyed working the dough and the satisfaction of these rising beautifully and tasting fab definitely made all the work worthwhile. My buns were not beautifully round – I think I need to work on my shaping, but they were light and fluffy and tasted great! If I were to make them again, I think I would try brushing them with a spicy sugar syrup straight after baking – this was suggested in the quick and easy version that I tried, and would be great on these buns!
Hot Cross Buns
- 300ml whole milk
- Zest of one orange
- Zest of one lemon
- 50g butter
- 500g strong white bread flour, plus 140g for the crosses, plus extra for dusting
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
- 1.5 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp salt
- 85g golden caster sugar
- 7g sachet fast-action yeast
- 1 large egg, beaten, plus 1 egg to blaze
- Oil / cake-release spray, for greasing
- 100g mixed fruit
- Warm the milk and zests in a small saucepan until steaming.
- Remove from the heat and add the butter, gently stirring until the butter has melted and the milk has cooled to hand temperature.
- Mix the flour, spices, sugar, yeast and salt in a large bowl (make sure that you don’t put the salt directly on top of the yeast).
- Pour in the milk mixture and the beaten egg, and mix together with a wooden spoon until the mixture clumps together.
- Tip onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic – the dough should bounce back when pressed with your finger.
- Transfer to a clean oiled bowl (I use a quick spray of cake release spray to coat the bowl) and cover with cling film or a tea towel. Leave somewhere warm for about 2 hours or until doubled in size (If your house is cool, place in an oven at about 30C).
- Line two baking trays with baking parchment and dust with flour.
- Tip the dough out of the bowl onto a work surface dusted with flour and knead to knock out any air bubbles.
- Add the dried fruit and knead to incorporate.
- Divide the dough into 12 pieces, roll each piece into a ball and place 6 on each baking tray, spacing evenly.
- Cover loosely with oiled clingfilm (again, cake release spray makes this easy!) and leave somewhere warm for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
- Heat the oven to 180C.
- Brush the buns with a little beaten egg.
- Mix the remaining flour with enough water to make a thick paste and then transfer to a piping bag.
- Use the paste to pipe a cross on each bun.
- Place the trays in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until golden and cooked through.