Recipe: Hot Cross Buns
A few weeks out from Easter and a lazy Sunday afternoon… what else is there to do but bake Hot Cross Buns?
The thing is, as many of you probably know, the ones in the supermarket just don’t cut it any more. Some bakeries still do an okay job, but they’re not cheap. Homemade ones are just easier, cheaper and yummier. Conundrum solved.
The recipe is courtesy of the March issue of Good Food mag but I’ve changed it up a little to suit my own tastes, and it’s my version that you’ll find listed below (I’ve eliminated the “mixed peel” as I’m not of a fan of the bitter taste it adds to the traditional hot cross buns. I’ve gone with orange juice and zest instead).
They’re a little time consuming to make, but if you read the recipe and plan it out in advance you’ll be okay - ie. while the dough is rising you can go off and fold some washing, do your grocery shopping etc. Other than that, they’re fairly simple to make and they came out perfect on my first go. They’re packed full of sultanas, diced apple and cinnamon and the apricot glaze just gives them that little bit of somethin’ somethin’.
One of these lightly toasted under an oven grill with a little (okay, a lot) of cinnamon butter (cinnamon mixed with softened butter), and a cup of coffee… what more could you want on a chilly March morning?
I got a little lazy toward the end and decided not to muck around making the crosses to go on top. Skipping them won’t affect the taste, but if you want to make yours look pretty then I recommend going the extra mile and making the crosses.
The batch makes 16 regular sized hot cross buns and I’ve frozen half of them for another time.
For the buns:
- 300ml full-fat milk
- 50g butter
- 500g strong bread flour (this is essential - avoid using your usual baking flour)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 75g caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon sunflower oil
- 7g sachet fast-action yeast
- 1 egg, whisked or beaten
- 100g sultanas
- Grated zest of one whole orange, and its juices
- 1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
For the cross:
- 75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
For the glaze:
- 3 tablespoons apricot jam
Heat milk in the microwave until piping hot, then remove and stir in the butter until it is fully melted. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature.
Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a large bowl. Push to the sides, making a large opening (a “well”) in the centre. Pour in the warm milk mixture, then add the egg. Use a large spoon (preferably wooden) to mix well, until you have a sticky dough.
Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead the dough for five minutes, until smooth. Lightly oil the large bowl and place the yeast back into it and cover with cling film. Leave in a warm place for one hour, until the mixture has doubled in size (if the house is cold, I turn the oven on in advance and then, turning the oven back off, I leave the door of it open and rest the bowl on that for an hour).
(Don’t throw the cling film away just yet) Add the sultanas, orange zest, orange juice, apple and cinnamon to the bowl. Use your hands to knead the ingredients into the dough, making sure everything is well distributed. Cover the bowl with the cling film again and leave in a warm place to rise for one hour more, until doubled in size again.
Divide the dough into 16 roughly even pieces and roll each ball on a lightly floured surface. Arrange the buns on baking trays lined with baking paper, leaving enough room between each one for them to expand.
Cover with a clean tea towel and set aside for another 40 minutes to one hour. In the meantime, make the crosses by mixing the flour with five tablespoons of water - adding one tablespoon at a time until you achieve a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag and pipe lines along each row of buns, and then in the other direction, to create the crosses.
Bake for 20min on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.
Gently heat the apricot jam in the microwave, to melt and use a pastry brush to spread it over the top of the warm buns. Leave them to cool slightly before eating them.
Photo source: Good Food Channel