Hot Cross Buns
Easter just wouldn't be the same without toasted hot cross buns, generously covered with unsalted butter and strawberry jam. Mmmmmm....yummy!! And although they are cheap and easy to find in all supermarkets and bakeries at this time of year, there's nothing more satisfying or fun than baking some for yourself from scratch. They will taste so much better and the smell of them baking in your oven will fill your home with a sensory pleasure.
So here's my recipe for hot cross buns. They are so easy to make and the prepping and mixing don't take long at all, you just need to allow a little time for proving. Best of all, you can add some of your own favourite fruit and spices to customise your buns and have them just how you want them!
For the buns:
- 450g strong white flour
- 100g unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 50g unrefined caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 200ml milk
- 10g dried yeast
- A good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon
- 100g sultanas
- 50g mixed peel
For the criss-crosses:
- 4 heaped tablespoons plain white flour
- 2 tablespoons boiling water
For the glaze:
- 2 tablespoons caster sugar
- a little boiling water
Measure the flour into a mixing bowl and add the butter. Work it into the flour with your fingers or just get your mixer to do the job, until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Add the yeast and sugar to one side of the flour mix, a pinch of salt to the opposite side. Then add all your other ingredients and turn on your mixer for around 5 minutes until the dough is really elastic. It's all 'all-in-one' method that's so quick and easy!
Cover your bowl with cling film and leave to prove (double in size) for about 2 hours.
When your dough is ready, punch it to knock out the air, knead it again for a minute or two, roll it into a sausage shape and cut it into around 12-14 equal portions.
Work each piece into a round ball and place on a non-stick baking tray, leaving about 3 inches between each one.
Leave them to prove again for about an hour.
Turn your oven on to 180 degrees C.
To make an eggwash beat an egg and a little milk together in a glass, then with a pastry brush, paint the eggwash on to each bun until completely covered.
Next make the mixture which will create the criss-crosses by mixing the flour with some water until you get a thick gloopy paste. Spoon it into a piping bag, then pipe a cross onto each bun.
Pop your buns in the oven....for around 20 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don't go too brown.
Take them out of the oven when they're ready. Oh my goodness the smell should be amazing!!
Mix the caster sugar with a little boiling water and brush the sugary liquid over your buns to give them that classic shiny finish.
Best eaten while still warm and fresh out of the oven. Enjoy!!
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I just love the flavour of cardamom in an enriched yeasty dough. In Scandinavia they use cardamom a lot in yeast buns and it makes them deliciously aromatic. I use 6 cardamom pods, removing the seeds from the pods by giving them a bash to break the skin of the pods, then crush the seeds in a mortar and pestle until they are quite fine.
If you don't want to use sultanas, you can replace with dried blueberries, cranberries or any other dried fruit you like.
I also add 2 eating apples for extra moisture. Just peel and core the apples and dice them into small pieces and add to the mix. I wouldn't knead the dough by hand if adding apples as this could get messy, but the apples will be fine if your using your mixer to do the work!
If you don't want to use strong white flour, then spelt will work just as well.
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