Hot cross buns – a total Easter essential! As a rule I hate anything with “live fruit” in (don’t ask!), but even I love to tuck into a hot cross bun or two. This year I decided to make my own and I have to say I’m really glad I did! They may have taken quite a long time to prepare but they were pretty easy, and definitely worth it.
For the buns…
♥ 300ml full fat milk (plus an extra few tablespoons) ♥
♥ 50g butter ♥
♥ 500g strong white bread flour ♥
♥ 1 tsp salt ♥
♥ 75g caster sugar ♥
♥ 7g fast action yeast ♥
♥ 1 egg ♥
♥ 75g sultanas ♥
♥ 50g mixed peel ♥
♥ Zest of 1 orange ♥
♥ 1 apple (peeled, cored and finely chopped) ♥
♥ 1 tsp ground cinnamon ♥
♥ Sunflower oil ♥
For the cross…
♥ 75g plain flour (plus some extra for dusting) ♥
For the glaze…
♥ 4 tbsp apricot jam ♥
1) Pour the milk in a saucepan and slowly bring to the boil. Then remove it from the heat and add your cubed butter and leave it to cool to a warm temperature.
2) Sieve your bread flour into a bowl and add your salt, sugar and yeast, making a well in the middle. Pour your warm milk and butter mix in the well and use a wooden spoon to mix it well. Use your hands to bring everything together into a sticky dough.
3) Lightly dust your work surface with flour and tip the dough out. Knead it for about 5 minutes, stretching the dough with the palm of your hand and folding it back on itself. After 5 minutes your dough should be nice and smooth and quite elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with piled cling film. Leave it to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.
4) Once the dough is ready, pour the sultanas, peel, orange zest, apple and cinnamon into the bowl. Use your hands to knead the ingredients into the dough making sure it’s all mixed in and is evenly distributed. Re-cover the dough with oiled cling film and leave it to prove for another hour or until it has double again in size.
5) Line a couple of baking trays with some baking parchment and then divide your dough into equal size balls – 75g each. Roll each piece of dough into a smooth ball and then position it on the baking tray, leaving a good distance between each bun. Once they’re all in place, cover (but don’t wrap) the trays with a clean tea towel or oiled cling film. Leave them to prove for another hour.
6) Pre-heat your oven to 220C / Gas Mark 7 and then make the flour paste ready to pipe your crosses. Sieve the plain flour into a bowl and then add a tablespoon of water and mix it together. Add teaspoons of water one by one until you have a thick paste (usually takes about 5-6 tablespoons of water). Spoon the mixture into a piping bag with a relatively small nozzle.
TOP TIP: It’s probably worth just spooning a little in at first and practising your piping to make sure your nozzle isn’t too big / too small. In true Goldilocks fashion, it took me three goes to find the right nozzle which was “just right” – giving me neat crosses which piped easily with the thick paste.
7) Once your buns have finished their final prove, pipe a cross on each of them. Then pop your trays in the oven and bake your buns for about 20 minutes until they’re a golden brown. Then take out and cool on a rack.
8) Time to get your glaze ready! Heat your apricot jam in a saucepan until it melts. If you have lumps of apricot you can either sieve these out or just mush them up so your jam is nice and smooth. While your jam and buns are still hot, brush a light layer of glaze over the top of each bun and then leave to cool completely.
Delicious eaten as they are or toasted and buttered!