Delicious hot cross buns
Easy to make and freezable
Just as the smell of mulled wine will always instantly transport me to Christmas time (which might seem bizarre, but I hail from the Northern hemisphere and for me the festive season should always be in winter), the aroma of freshly baked hot cross buns signals the beginning of the long Easter weekend.
As a child I made them every year with my Mum, and it’s a tradition I still like to carry on today.
The good news is… you can make it and freeze the uncooked dough for up to a month
The difference between homemade hot cross buns and the ones you pick up in the supermarket is simply staggering, and the recipe is really simple. Some might feel daunted because making them involves yeast and kneading, but in truth the only slight drawback of this recipe is that it takes a while because the dough has to rise. Other than that it couldn’t be simpler.
The good news is I’ve experimented with this recipe, and you can make it and freeze the uncooked dough for up to a month. So if you have a spare afternoon, make it at your leisure and freeze, then you can look forward to fresh hot cross buns on Good Friday morning, simply by defrosting and baking the dough.
50g caster sugar, plus one teaspoon
150ml hand-hot water
1 pack (7g) dried yeast
450g plain flour
1 level teaspoon of salt
2 rounded teaspoons of mixed spice
150g mixed dried fruit (see recipe note)
50ml warmed milk
1 large egg beaten
50g melted butter
For sticky glaze:
5 tablespoons of granulated sugar
5 tablespoons of water
For pastry crosses:
120g plain flour
5 tablespoons of water
1- Stir the teaspoon of caster sugar into the hand-hot water, then sprinkle on top the dried yeast. Leave for 15 minutes or so until a really good frothy foam has formed on top (like the head on a pint of beer).
2- While waiting for the yeast to activate, sift the flour, mixed spice and salt into a mixing bowl, then add the 50g of sugar and mixed dried fruit.
RECIPE NOTE – Traditional recipes would include around 100g of currants and 50g of mixed peel. My family don’t like mixed peel, so I choose to use currants and raisins instead. Feel free to use what you have in the cupboard, omit dried fruits you don’t like, or even experiment using less traditional dried fruits such as dried cranberries – they’re your hot cross buns, use the flavours you love!
3- Warm the milk. I do this by putting the measured milk into a mug and placing the mug in a bowl filled with hot water, and leaving it there for ten minutes or so. The milk will warm gently. While this is warming, melt the butter in a saucepan or using a microwave.
4- Pour the yeast mixture, milk, beaten egg and melted butter into the mixing bowl containing the dry ingredients. Mix everything together into dough, and then as it begins to be difficult to stir, use your hands to finish bringing everything into a sticky dough mix – if it’s looking a little dry add a tiny amount of milk to help things along.
5- Next transfer the mixture onto a clean floured surface and knead it for six minutes or so until it is smooth and elastic – my suggestion for this is to choose your favourite playlist on your iPod and listen to two songs while you’re kneading, at the end of the two songs the dough should be nicely smooth and lost its sticky look. If you have a food mixer with a dough hook you could use this method if you prefer.
6- Pop the smooth dough back into the mixture bowl, cover with an oiled piece of cling wrap, and leave in a warmish place for one hour for it to rise. You’ve got a break now, go and make yourself a cuppa and put your feet up for a bit.
7- At the end of the hour take a peek at your dough, it should have doubled in size. Turn it out on a clean work surface and knead again down to its original size.
8- Divide the mixture into twelve balls and place onto a greased baking sheet. Cover with oiled cling wrap and leave for half an hour to rise.
9- Pre heat the oven to 200°c.
10- While the buns are rising, measure 120g of plain flour into a mixing bowl and add 5 tablespoons of water. Mix together to form a pastry (if too wet add a little more flour). Roll out and cut into strips ready to make the crosses on your hot cross buns.
11- Once the buns have risen, wet the pastry strips and put on the hot cross buns.
12- Place the hot cross buns in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden. While waiting for the buns to cook, make the glaze by putting the water and sugar into a small saucepan and heating over a low heat. When the buns are ready, take them out of the oven and place on a cooling rack, and brush the sugar glaze over while they are still warm.
MAKING IN ADVANCE:
Freezing – if you want to make ahead you can make the dough up to and including step 8, and after they have risen for half an hour wrap in cling wrap and pop into the freezer. Defrost before use (it will take a couple of hours) then add the pastry cross to the top of the dough and bake in oven as per the above instructions.
Making the night before -Make up to step 11, cover with dampened kitchen roll, place in fridge overnight. Before cooking the next morning take out of the fridge for an hour to get the buns to room temperature. Then bake as above instructions.
REFRESHING HOT CROSS BUNS THE DAY AFTER BAKING
Buns are best eaten on the day they are made, however you can refresh them the day after by popping them into medium heated oven for 10 minutes, and then adding fresh sugar glaze to the buns.