Hot Cross Buns

Introduction

It’s almost Easter, which means it’s time for Hot Cross Buns!  I made a batch on the weekend, and wanted to share the recipe.  Each time I make them the ratio of spices seems to change slightly, so feel free to experiment and post back any suggestions in the comments.

Ingredients:

Serves: 16 buns

For the buns

  • 1/3 cup castor sugar
  • 2 x 8g sachets dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm milk (about 45C is ideal for yeast)
  • 600g plain flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1-2 tsp mixed spice
  • 60g butter, chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup currants
  • 1 1/2 cup sultanas
  • Freshly grated orange zest (to taste)

For the cross paste

  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 2 tsp castor sugar
  • water

For the glaze

  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp gelatin powder
  • 3 tbsp castor sugar

Method

For the buns

Combine sugar, yeast and warm milk in a bowl. Stir until sugar is almost dissolved then rest covered in a warm place for about 10 minutes or until frothy (see below).  I find the yeast mixture is normally ready by the time I’ve completed the next two steps.

After resting, the yeast mixture with be frothy on top.

Sift flour, salt and spices into a large bowl (a 5 litre ice cream bucket is quite handy because the mixture ends up quite large) and rub butter into flour mixture with fingertips.  The butter and flour should be well combined and an even texture.

Butter should be well combined and an even texture.

Add the fruit and mix well.

Stir in egg and yeast mixture and mix with a wooden spoon until well combined.

Cover and rest in a warm place for about 45 minutes or until mixture has doubled in size.

Dough before rising
Dough before rising
Dough after rising for 45 minutes

Once the dough has risen, pre-heat oven to 220C (200C fan forced).

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. You might need to sprinkle more flour over the dough and surface as you go, depending how sticky it is. This is a helpful video if you haven’t kneaded before.

Divide dough into 16 even pieces and roll into balls. To keep them an even size, it helps to halve the dough, then continuing halving until you have 16 pieces.

Place balls on a baking tray lined with baking paper. The balls should be about 1 cm apart as they support each other when they rise. Rest covered for 10-15 minutes to allow the balls to rise while you make the cross paste.

For the cross paste

While the buns are rising, put together the mixture for the cross paste.  Combine the dry ingredients in a small bowl and mix with water until you have a smooth paste consistency. The paste should be reasonably thick so the crosses don’t run down the side of the buns.

Using a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle (or a snaplock bag with the corner snipped off), pipe crosses onto the buns.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned.

For the glaze

Dissolve gelatin in a small amount of water (see this link for a lump free way of dissolving gelatin – patience is a key ingredient to avoid lumps). Add castor sugar and a small amount of boiling water. Stir to dissolve.

While hot, brush buns with warm glaze then allow to cool on rack.

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