There are a lot of amazing Hot Cross Bun recipes out there and I have sampled several delicious variations (my favourites involve cranberries, orange or chocolate) but every year at Easter I really look forward to them in their traditional incarnation, with mixed spice, mixed peel and raisins (or sultanas). Maybe I’m a traditionalist at heart. I have had a couple of attempts at making them this year. The first time I changed my mind and tried an Iced Cinnamon Swirl Loaf instead. It wasn’t entirely successful. The second time I realised once I had started that I didn’t have any mixed spice or mixed peel. So they were more of a un-crossed cinnamon and sultana bun. Still good, though.
So I might be a bit late with these but at least I managed it before Easter! And after Easter maybe I will be attempting some of the variations, just without the crosses…
I used my mixer with the dough hook for these because the enriched dough is very sticky and difficult to work with.
200ml warm milk
20g fresh yeast
55g caster sugar
450g strong white flour
½ teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons mixed spice
85g butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
115g currants or sultanas
30g mixed peel
For the crosses
100g plain flour
A little sweetened milk
Mix the yeast with 1 teaspoon of the sugar and 2 tablespoons of the warm milk.
Put the flour, salt, mixed spice, butter and the remaining sugar into a large mixing bowl.
Make a well in the centre and tip in the yeast mixture, eggs and enough milk to make a soft dough.
Mix, and knead either by hand for about ten minutes, or with a dough hook for around 6 minutes. The dough should be smooth and silky.
Put the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with oiled clingfilm.
Leave until is has about doubled in size. I left mine a little too long because I was out longer than I thought I would be and it was trying to escape from the bowl.
Tip the dough out onto a floured surface and add the sultanas and mixed peel. Knead until the fruit is incorporated evenly into the dough.
Divide the dough into twelve equal pieces. I weigh the dough, divide the weight by 12 and weigh each piece to get them as close to even as possible. Unless you have a life, in which case you could also do it by eye…
Shape each piece into a round bun.
Place on a well oiled baking tray and cover again with oiled clingfilm or a tea towel.
Leave to rise again until they have doubled in size.
Set the oven to 200ºC. Brush with sweetened milk (I forgot that stage).
Make the paste for the crosses by mixing the flour with enough water to make a smooth paste the consistency of toothpaste. Put the paste in a piping bag and pipe a cross across the tops of the buns.
Bake in the oven for around 20 minutes, then brush again with the sweetened milk and bake for another 5 minutes.
Glaze with apricot jam: use a little water to thin it and brush over the tops of the buns.
Allow to cool on a wire rack.
The perfect excuse to eat buns for breakfast.