Posted by: mariawl | 2011/04/25

Hot Cross Buns

What perfect way to celebrate Easter with these wonderful Hot Cross Buns. Much better than store bought ones, and definitely worth the effort, these buns give the correct amount of sweetness, with a good amount of fruit in each one. Perfect served warm and buttered, or topped with various jams, marmalades or even some sliced banana. Don’t forget to breath in through your nose as you pour the “yeast sponge” into the flour mixture – the smell of the yeast is intoxicating!

Makes 8-10

Ingredients:

For the buns:

  • 475g (15oz) Strong White Flour
  • 1 x 7g packet Dried Yeast
  • 1tsp + 50g (20z) Golden Caster Sugar
  • 250ml (8floz) lukewarm Milk
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 50g (2oz) Butter, cut into small pieces
  • 2tsp Mixed Spice
  • 150g (5oz) Dried Fruit
  • 1 Egg, beaten

For the crosses:

  • 4 tbsp Plain Flour
  • 1 1/2 – 2 tbsp Water

For the glaze:

  • 1 tbsp Golden Caster Sugar
  • 1tsp Milk

Method:

  1. Make a “yeast sponge”: In a small bowl, mix 100g (3 1/2 oz) of the strong flour with the yeast and 1tsp golden caster sugar. Whisk in the milk. Cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for around 20-25 minutes, until it has risen and looks bubbly.
  2. Meanwhile, put the remaining (375g or 11 1/2 oz) of flour into a large bowl, along with the salt. Rub in the butter with your fingers. Now stir in the mixed spice, 50g (2oz) of the golden caster sugar and the dried fruit.
  3. Pour in the egg into the yeast sponge mix, and then pour this into the flour and fruit mix. Mix well to form a soft, light dough. Tip the dough onto a work surface and knead for 5-8 minutes. Put the dough back into a lightly floured bowl and leave, covered with a damp tea-towel or some clingfilm, in a warm place for an hour (or until it has doubled in size).
  4. Gently dip the dough back onto a work surface and knead gently. Cut the dough into 8-10 equal pieces (you can weigh the pieces to make it accurate). Take one piece at a time and shape into round buns by folding the edges into the centre. Turn them over so the smooth side is on top, and lay the buns on 2 lined baking sheets, leaving enough space so the buns have room to rise.
  5. Cover the buns again with lightly oiled clingfilm, or damp and floured tea-towels, leaving to rise for 45 minutes – 1 hour (or until they have risen by at least half again). Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (180°C fan).
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the mix for the crosses. Make a small piping bag out of a piece of baking parchment (cut into a triangle) or out of a small sandwich bag with a hole cut in the corner. The hole should be about the diameter of a wooden skewer. Whisk the plain flour with the water to make a thick, smooth, piping paste (see Tips, below). Once the buns have risen, pipe crosses over each bun (again, see Tips). Bake for 15-20 minutes until they are golden and sound hollow when tapped underneath.
  7. Remove the buns from the tray, trimming off any excess piping mixture from the bottom of each one. Place on a cooling wrack and brush with the glaze (which is made by just mixing the caster sugar with the milk) whilst the buns are still warm.

Tips:

  1. The amount of water used for the cross mixture is not exact. I used 2 tbsp but found it was a tad too runny, so it’s worth experimenting for the type of cross you want.
  2. When you pipe the crosses, it is best to pipe the paste all the way to the bottom of each bun so it touches the baking sheet. Then, after baking, trim off any excess.
  3. An alternative glaze could be honey, which you can just brush over the top after baking.

Storage: Best eaten on the day they are made, but they will last for a couple of days before going stale. Well wrapped, they can also be frozen for up to a month. Any slightly stale hot cross buns can of course be used to make a bread and butter pudding!

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