Sunday, 31 March 2013

Hot Cross Buns

A pile of hot cross buns

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


  1. 300ml whole milk
  2. Zest of one orange
  3. Zest of one lemon
  4. 50g butter
  5. 500g strong white bread flour, plus 140g for the crosses, plus extra for dusting
  6. 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  7. 1.5 tsp mixed spice
  8. 1 tsp salt
  9. 85g golden caster sugar
  10. 7g sachet fast-action yeast
  11. 1 large egg, beaten, plus 1 egg to blaze
  12. Oil / cake-release spray, for greasing
  13. 100g mixed fruit


  1. Warm the milk and zests in a small saucepan until steaming.
  2. Remove from the heat and add the butter, gently stirring until the butter has melted and the milk has cooled to hand temperature.
  3. 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).
  4. Pour in the milk mixture and the beaten egg, and mix together with a wooden spoon until the mixture clumps together.
  5. Tip onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth and elastic – the dough should bounce back when pressed with your finger.
  6. 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).
  7. Line two baking trays with baking parchment and dust with flour.
  8. Tip the dough out of the bowl onto a work surface dusted with flour and knead to knock out any air bubbles.
  9. Add the dried fruit and knead to incorporate.
  10. Divide the dough into 12 pieces, roll each piece into a ball and place 6 on each baking tray, spacing evenly.
  11. 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.
  12. Heat the oven to 180C.
  13. Brush the buns with a little beaten egg.
  14. Mix the remaining flour with enough water to make a thick paste and then transfer to a piping bag.
  15. Use the paste to pipe a cross on each bun.
  16. Place the trays in the oven and bake for about 25 minutes, until golden and cooked through.

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