Every Easter we bake hot cross buns. In fact I have eaten hot cross buns on Good Friday more or less all my life. Not for religious reasons but because it’s a seasonal culinary treat. A brief interlude when I lived in Belgium, but otherwise I’ve always lived in one bun country or another.
Ever since the coronavirus lockdown I have been taking it very easy in the mornings, we’ve even become confused as to what day it is, but this morning i woke early and hopped up to put the buns on. It’s great to have a mission for the day even if it’s only to make buns. Hot cross buns are made with a brioche type dough but with added fruit and spices. Deliciously simple if you have time – which we do have right now. There’s no problem waiting for dough to rise, sure what else would we do?
Hot Cross Buns – makes 20 (plenty to share with the neighbours)
1kg flour – maybe a little more
1dsp dried yeast or 20g fresh yeast
2 tsp cake spice
100g raisins or sultanas
100g candied peel
a small piece pastry dough to make the crosses
egg wash – egg mixed with little milk
I use Dcl (freeze dried yeast) but fresh yeast is good too. The sachets of quick yeast are not suitable for this method. If you are using fresh yeast just mash it with little sugar before adding to the liquid.
Heat the milk and water to blood heat- the temperature you would comfortably bathe a baby in. Be careful, too hot and it will kill the yeast.
Put the liquid in a large bowl and sprinkle over the dried yeast and a teaspoonful of sugar. give the bowl a shake then leave until the yeast re-activates and pops to the surface. If you are using fresh yeast stir into the liquid.
Whisk some flour in until you have a thick batter. Add the sugar, 2 eggs, the spices and fruit then mix well.
Melt the butter, stir into the batter then begin to add more flour. Stirring the flour in until the mx begins to leave the sides of the bowl.
Turn the mix out onto a clean, well floured surface. Scrape the bowl out then begin to bring the dough together . This is where a dough scraper or egg flip come in handy to prevent the dough getting stuck all over your hands. Flip the dough , adding more flour to the counter ( not on top of the dough) until it comes together. Continue kneading with your hands. Knead until the dough is bouncy and stops picking up flour.
Clean the bowl, dry and wipe around a little oil. Put the dough in the bowl then leave in a warm place to rise. Sunshine is ideal but otherwise any warm spot – not direct heat .
When the dough has doubled in size tip it to onto a lightly floured surface – this is where the oiled bowl comes into play – and knead once more. Put the dough back into the bowl and leave to rise once more.
Heat the oven 180c.
Line your baking sheets with parchment paper
Roll the dough into a fat sausage, cut into two or three pieces lengthwise then cut into equal sized pieces – you should end up with 20-22 bits. Roll each piece into bun and place on the baking tray. Leave to rise until double in size.
When the buns have doubled in size roll out the pastry quite thin then cut into strips.
Glaze the buns with egg wash then lay the pastry over the buns to make a cross, then egg wash once more
Bake for 20 minutes or until golden,
Cook 2tbs sugar with 2tbs water. Boil for one minute then brush over the buns
Time for a cup of tea!