Hot Cross Buns

I posted my Hot Cross Bun recipe last year, but this year I’ve tried a couple of other recipes and have made some changes to my original. Given it’s Easter again, I figured now’s a good time to share!

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 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 5 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 60g butter, chopped
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 150g currants

For the cross paste

  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 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. I find the yeast mixture is normally ready by the time I’ve completed the next two steps.

After resting, the yeast mixture will 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. On a warm sunny day, the dough will rise quite nicely in the sun. On a cooler day, preheat the oven to about 100°C then switch it off and place the covered dough in the oven to rise.

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

Once the dough has risen, pre-heat oven to 220°C (200°C 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.  Place the flour 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.

Buns ready for the oven!

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until browned. Rotate the tray halfway through baking to ensure they cook evenly.

For the glaze

Dissolve gelatin in a small amount of water (see this link for a lump free method of dissolving gelatin – patience is a key ingredient to avoid lumps). Add castor sugar to a small amount of boiling water. Stir to dissolve. While hot, brush buns with warm glaze then allow to cool on rack.

Edited 16/04/2017: This year I removed the gelatin from my glaze because I was finding the buns too sticky to handle and if there was too much gelatin it would have an unpleasant taste. Using just castor sugar and water for the glaze works perfectly well, so I’ve updated the recipe to omit the gelatin.
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