Within 24 hours of Christmas my local supermarket had hot cross buns for sale. At the time the idea was ludicrous! However, since then 6 weeks have passed and now Easter is less than 40 days away. It’s time to start my favourite Easter recipe – Hot Cross Buns.
I have started making these on Good Friday, and if I am lucky there is some left by the Sunday. It took me years to perfect this recipe, as part of my quest to conquer bread! I am glad I persevered because these are light and fluffy, fragrant and deliciously moreish.
If you haven’t baked with dough before, don’t be deterred – these are a great starter.
I also cheat a little and use Gewurzhaus’ Hot Cross Bun spice.
For Australian readers, in a lot of research of recipes, I discovered that the quick action yeast used overseas with dry ingredients is not the same as the easy action yeast available here. You still need to mix the yeast with warm liquid to avoid flat baked goods.
So with a month until Easter – happy baking!
300ml full cream milk (+ 2 tbsp)
500g strong bread flour
1 tsp salt
75g caster sugar
1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
7g sachet yeast
1 egg beaten
50g mixed peel
zest 1 orange
1 apple peeled, cored and finely chopped
2 tsp Hot Cross Bun Spice or 1 tsp ground cinnamon + 1 tsp ground cloves
75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
3 tbsp apricot jam
Boil the milk, remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until you can bear to to touch it with you hand. Add the yeast as per the instructions on the packet.
Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, then add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough. If I am in a hurry I cheat and use a stand mixer with a dough hook.
Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 mins until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled glad wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hr or until doubled in size and a finger pressed into it leaves a dent
With the dough still in the bowl, tip in the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apple and spices. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is well distributed. Leave to rise for 1 hr more, or until doubled in size, again covered by some well-oiled cling film to stop the dough getting a crust.
Divide the dough into 75g pieces and on a lightly floured surface roll into a ball before placing them onto lined baking trays leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Cover with a tea towel, then set aside for 1 hour.
Pre-hear the oven to 220C. To make the cross mix the flour with 1 tsp of water at a time until you have a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses.
Bake for 20 mins on the middle shelf of the oven, until golden brown.
Gently heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve to get rid of any chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool