Hot cross buns are a traditional Easter food that are supposed to be eaten from the beginning of Lent up until Good Friday. I love hot cross buns but have never attempted to make my own before. It was time to make the effort!
With the help of the Paul Hollywood “How to Bake” book I discovered they really couldn’t be easier. There are several steps involved but although they take a while to make from start to finish, each step is straightforward. Mine took a lot longer to rise than I was expecting because it was such a cold day, so I put the buns in the fridge overnight for the final step. I took them out in the morning and baked them: fresh homemade hot cross buns for breakfast. Definitely worth the effort!
500g strong white bread flour
75g caster sugar
10g instant yeast
40g softened butter
2 beaten eggs
120ml warm milk
up to 120ml water
80g chopped mixed peel
Zest of two oranges
1 cored, peeled and diced dessert apple
2 teaspoons cinnamon
For the crosses:
50g plain flour
Put the flour into a large mixing bowl.
Add the salt, sugar and yeast.
Mix together the butter, eggs, milk and 60ml of the water and add to the bowl. Mix well and tip out onto the kitchen surface.
Begin to knead: you may need to add more water. Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin.
When the dough starts to feel smooth and silky (after about 5-10 minutes), put into a large oiled bowl and cover with oiled clingfilm. Allow to rise until at least doubled in size. This may take several hours.
Mix together the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apple and cinnamon.
Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and scatter the sultana mixture over the top of it. Knead until evenly incorporated. Cover and leave to rise for another hour.
When the dough is ready, tip out and fold the dough inwards repeatedly to knock out the air. Divide into 12 pieces and roll into balls. I weighed the dough and mine weighed 1200g. I weighed out 100g pieces to make sure the buns were evenly sized.
Place fairly close together on a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Put the tray in a clean plastic bag and leave to rest for an hour (or overnight in the fridge) until doubled in size.
Heat the oven to 220°C.
For the crosses, mix the flour and water to a paste. Using a piping bag with a fine nozzle, pipe crosses onto the buns:
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Warm some apricot jam (sieved if necessary) with a splash of water and brush over the tops of the warm buns to glaze.
Cool on a wire rack. Enjoy warm or cold, on their own, with butter or with jam. They also freeze well.