I’ve been good. I haven’t bought or eaten a single hot cross bun, not even last week when I wandered past a bakery in Cambridge and that lovely cinnamon and spice smell followed me down the street.
We had our first attempt at making hot cross buns two years ago and I remember the experience was time consuming but worth the effort. Well, except for the crosses that were made only of flour and water. This time the paste for the crosses has sugar in it so it doesn’t taste so bland and it has melted neatly onto the surface of the buns, giving a more pleasing appearance.
It seemed to take just as long this time to make the buns. Maybe I should have followed Delia’s recipe because in this recipe, the dough is left to rise three times. It’s adapted from the exceptional breads book. This recipe is best tried on a rainy day, just like it was today.
Makes 12 buns
7g sachet of fast action yeast
100ml warm water
100g strong white flour
335g strong white flour
50g caster sugar
1 tsp sea salt, ground
40g unsalted butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 1/2 tsp mixed spice
100g mixed dried fruit (I used currants and sultanas)
zest of one orangezest of one lemon
For the egg glaze:
1 egg yolk
1 tbsp milk
For the crosses:
4 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp water
For the sugar glaze:
50g caster sugar
In a bowl, whisk the yeast and warm water until dissolved. Stir in the flour. Cover the bowl with a tea towel and leave in a warm place for 2 hours or until the mixture has risen by one third and has lots of bubbles.
In another bowl, put the flour, the risen dough, water, milk, sugar, salt, melted butter, beaten egg and the mixed spice. Mix the ingredients and then tip out onto a work surface. Knead for about 10 minutes. Add the dried fruit and the zest and knead again for another minute. Put the dough in a bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour until it doubles in size.
Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Knock the air out of the dough, shaping it into a rectangle. Cut into 12 and with your hands, make each piece into a bun shape. Arrange the buns on top of the greaseproof paper in lines so that they are almost touching. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes until they rise and join together. Halfway through the rising time, preheat the oven to its maximum temperature.
While the buns are rising, make a paste for the crosses by mixing the flour, caster sugar and water. Put the paste in a plastic sandwich bag and cut a small hole in one of the corners of the bag. Make an egg glaze by beating together the egg yolk and milk.
Using a skewer or table knife, make a cross on each bun. Brush the buns with the egg glaze and then pipe a cross on each bun. Put the buns in oven, turn down the temperature to 180˚C and bake for around 30 minutes until golden.
While the buns are baking, make the sugar glaze by bringing the sugar and water to the boil.
When the buns are cooked, they should sound hollow if you tap them with your fingers. Place the buns on a wire rack and brush with the sugar glaze. Leave to cool and then split the buns.