Hot Cross Buns

With Easter just over 5 weeks away it’s definitely respectable to get stuck into hot cross buns. And, if you’re anything like me you’ll need a decent amount of lead time to get them done in time! I’ve been making hot cross buns for several years now with most attempts failing. The flavour was there but not the texture, they really should have been called hot cross rocks. I have finally tweaked a recipe that seems to produce fluffy, yummy buns. It is important to use the right yeast though. I find a massive difference between brands and I will only ever use Tandaco if using dried yeast. Most of the time I use fresh yeast, but that can be hard to come by. Some bakeries will sell it to you, and it’s super cheap. However, you could use either kind of yeast, as long as it’s Tandaco if using dried yeast.
It’s not traditional but I love adding chopped dried apple in my hot cross buns which gives the buns a certain lightness. I’ll typically use a mixture of mixed peel, dried apple, sultanas & currants, often in quantities reflected by what’s available in my pantry at the time. But you can really add whatever fruit you like – or no fruit at all, which is what Andy prefers. OR…thanks to certain bakery chains people have now cottoned onto chocolate hot cross buns, just swap the fruit out for choc chips. Whatever you do, have fun making them and even more fun devouring them!
Makes 12

465g strong flour, such as 00 (I will often substitute out 100g for wholemeal flour for a richer taste)
35g caster sugar
1tsp sea-salt
10g dried yeast, or 28g fresh yeast
1.5 tsp allspice
1.5 tsp cinnamon
235 g dried fruit (Last time I used 20g mixed peel, 80g dried apple, 35g currants & 100g sultanas)
Zest of 1 orange
200ml milk
60g butter, softened
1 egg, lightly beaten
35g flour
40ml water
25g caster sugar
0.25tsp mixed spice
50ml water

In a small saucepan heat milk and butter until tepid. Remove from the heat and whisk in the egg.
Combine all ingredients in mixer bowl, adding the milk mixture last. Using the dough hook attachment knead on slow speed for about 2 minutes. Initially the dough may seem quite dry but will loosen up as it keeps mixing. Once all the ingredients are combined increase the speed to medium and knead for a further 6 minutes. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside for 45 minutes, or until doubled in size, in a warm, draught-free place.
Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into two – I find it easier to work with smaller pieces. Roll the dough out into a sausage about 1.5-2″ in diameter. Divide into 6 pieces, shaping each piece into a ball. Place the buns in an oiled tray (I use a lamington tray, even if it is slightly too big. You may have a better sized tray than I). Repeat with the remaining dough. Tip: Place the bans fairly close together so that when they rise they will touch each other. This will encourage them to rise upwards rather than out so you get nice high buns…not flat ones. You can see in the picture that I haven’t spaced the buns evenly in my lamington tray, otherwise they would never make contact. It’s ok to have a bit of unused tray real-estate!
IMG_4076Cover the tray with a damp tea-towel and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for a further 45 minutes to an hour, they need to double in size. My favourite place if propped above the coffee machine! Don’t forget you will need to preheat your oven to 210°C so check on your buns after about 30 minutes to see if they’re almost done rising. Also, the cross mixture needs to be made. Simply mix the flour and water together and tip into a piping bag. If you do not have a piping bag you can use a sandwich snap lock bag and cut the corner off – it needs to be fairly robust plastic as the mixture is fairly still. Once the buns have risen sufficiently pipe the crosses onto the buns and place in the oven. Cook at 210°C for 10 minutes and then reduce the oven to 200°C for a further 10 minutes. The buns are ready once they sound hollow when tapped.
While the buns are cooling make the glaze. Combine sugar, mixed spice and water in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Brush the buns with the glaze while they are still warm.
Enjoy your buns with butter or however you like! I prefer mine toasted with a little butter – the top half is always my favourite with the chewy cross and extra sweetness of the glaze!

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