Hot Cross Buns
Easter food and treats are much more than merely oodles of chocolate; there is my personal favourite, Hot Cross Buns. I could eat these year-round but do restrain myself to eating them only in the run-up to the festivities.
If you think hot cross buns are hard to make then you are wrong, they are straightforward with this easier and lighter recipe but one which in no way compromises on flavour or texture.
For the Hot Cross Buns:
500g strong white bread flour
55g Muscovado sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
55g. butter (cold, cut into small pieces)
150g mixed dried fruits
25g mixed peel
7g dried yeast (or 1 sachet fast action yeast)
300 ml milk (warm, not hot)
For the Crosses:
75 g plain flour
35g butter (cold, cut into small pieces)
For the Glaze:
1½ tablespoons apricot jam (warmed)
First, make the Hot Cross Bun:
First, mix together the sugar with the salt and spices and rub the butter into this mixture using your fingertips until it looks like coarse sand. Add into this, the fruits, peel and mix thoroughly.
Add the dried yeast and mix again, then pour in the warmed milk. Mix with a dinner knife to create a soft, slightly sticky dough.
Flour your work surface and knead the dough for approx. 10 minutes; the dough should be soft and smooth when ready.
Pop the dough into a lightly oiled baking bowl, cover with a cloth and leave to rise in a warm, draught-free place for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
Punch the dough down on the floured work surface and knead again for a couple of minutes. Divide the dough into 12 and roll each to form a bun.
Place the buns onto an oiled baking sheet and using a sharp knife cut a cross into the surface of each then cover and leave to rise for another ¾ hour.
Preheat the oven to 220°C.
Make the Crosses:
Rub the butter into the flour, add the water and mix. Divide the mixture into 12 and roll each piece into a ball. Pop these into the fridge to harden up a little.
Roll each ball into a long, even sausage, cut into two and press gently into the cross on each bun.
Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the buns are golden brown and well-risen. Glaze with the warmed jam, leave to cool then and serve with lashings of butter.
The hot cross buns are best eaten the day they are made but are always delicious for a day or two after lightly toasted and served warm.
Leftover over cross buns? Though this is hardly likely, slightly stale buns make a super Hot Cross Bread and Butter Pudding.