No Easter holidays would be complete without the appearance of the Hot Cross Bun and this year I thought Id have a go at baking my own and share this simple recipe with you all! Wether you like yours warmed, toasted or just as they are; smothered with butter, jam or whichever spread your heart desires, these gorgeously spiced buns will no doubt cheer your soul and put a spring in your step at the right time of year.
I have always been curious about how they are made and it was actually really fun trying out the recipe and oddly very simple too; the only potentially tricky part is when the proving stage comes into play but I will talk you through that and its a lot easier if you have an airing cupboard or a proving shelf in your oven (We are totally not sophisticated enough for either of these things so made use of the top oven with the heat from the bottom one…)
This recipe is a take on a BBC Recipe which states that it makes 12 buns, however I found that they were quite large and rotund so I would use it to make more along the lines of 16 smaller buns.
625g Strong White Flour
2tsp Ground Mixed Spice
45g Unsalted Butter, plus extra for greasing
85g Caster Sugar
1 Lemon, zest only
1 1/2tsp Dried Yeast (Fast Action would be better for lessening proving times)
1 Egg (Go Free Range guys…) beaten
275ml tepid Milk
125g Mixed Dried Fruit (I had on hand Sultanas and Greek Currants but you can mix it up however your tastes prefer!)
2tbsp Plain Flour
1tbsp Golden Syrup, gently heated
The making of the dough is so so simple…
Sieve The flour, salt and ground mixed spice into a mixing bowl and rub in the butter with your hands until all mixed in. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add in the sugar, lemon zest (If you don’t have a zester just use the smaller section of a cheese grater and it works fine!) and yeast.
To the centre well then add the beaten egg and tepid milk and mix all together to form your dough. The dough should be soft and ‘pliable’ and not sticky; at this point try not to over knead your dough in the bowl as you are about to do so… (the first time I made these I made this mistake and lost a bit of air in the buns)
Prepare your surface with a light flouring and pop the dough onto it and carefully work in the dried fruits until well combines and evenly spread. Knead Gently for 5 minutes until your dough is smooth and slightly ‘elastic’.
Grease a large mixing bowl with butter and pop the dough into it in a ball shape. Cover with a clean tea towel and pop into your chosen warm place to prove for an hour.
After an hour has passed check your dough to see if it has got larger ad looks like it has pocketed air… if it looks the same as before or not much larger then keep proving until you are happy with its size.
Now you need to ‘knock back’ the dough (Yup this part threw me at first too, but essentially you are removing air bubbles!) Keeping the dough in the mixing bowl, push a fist into it and you should feel air escaping and the dough sinking slightly (My first attempt did NOT see this happen but they still turned out great tasting if not a tiny bit dense so do not fear!)
Shape back into a ball again, cover with the tea towel and return to your proving space for another 30 minutes.
Flour your work surface again and pop your dough onto it before dividing into your 16 portions.
Roll each portion into a ball and then flatten with your hand into a bun shape.
Cover the buns once more and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes.
Grease a baking tray with butter and pop your buns onto the tray. Cover with cling film and leave in your warm proving space to prove and rise for the last time for around 40 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 240C or Gas Mark 8.
Now it is time to make your cross mixture; again super simple. In a bowl just mix the flour with the water to form a smooth paste.
After the buns have risen pipe your crosses onto your buns before they go into the oven with a piping bag.
Pop the buns into the oven for around 8-10 minutes or until they are a pale golden brown, as soon as you take them out brush with the heated golden syrup to glaze.
Pop onto a wire rack to cool.
Enjoy warm, or toasted with lashings of butter and a hot cup of tea… perfect!