How to make hot cross buns
Hot cross buns are the ultimate Easter treat and they’re easy to make at home. Make a big batch for friends and family to enjoy on Easter Sunday.
Tips for success
- These days, using yeast is simple, as all modern brands of easy-blend yeast are just stirred into the dry ingredients. (If you like to use fresh yeast, branches of Tesco and Sainsbury’s with in-house bakeries will sell you some. Fresh yeast will need to be creamed with a little of the warmed milk before being added to the dry ingredients.)
- As with all breadmaking, you need strong white flour so that the gluten stands up to the kneading; this ensures you have a lighter dough when it rises.
- Always use a glass or ceramic bowl for proving dough. Don’t use a metal bowl because metal is a good conductor of heat and it can cause the dough to rise too quickly. A warm kitchen is just the place for proving yeast doughs. If the kitchen is cold, pop the oven onto its lowest setting and sit the covered bowl of dough on the open oven door.
- This is a classic recipe, but if you fancy a change, try chopped glacé cherries and chopped, dried apricots in place of the raisins and peel. A grating of fresh orange zest also adds some extra zing.
1. To make 12 hot cross buns, you will need 625g strong white flour, 45g chilled butter, 45g golden caster sugar plus 2 extra tablespoons, 1 teaspoon each salt and ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon each ground allspice and grated nutmeg, 11/2 teaspoons fast-action dried yeast, 1 egg, 275ml milk plus 4 extra tablespoons, 100g raisins, 25g chopped mixed peel, and oil for greasing.
2. Sift 500g of the flour into a large glass or ceramic bowl. Cut up the butter and rub in with your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs. Stir in 45g caster sugar, salt, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and yeast. Beat the egg in another bowl, then mix it into the dry ingredients with 275ml milk, until you have a soft, pliable dough.
3. Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Gradually work in the raisins and peel. Return to the bowl and cover loosely with oiled cling film. Leave in a warm place for 1 hour, until doubled in size.
4. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead well to knock out all the air, then cut into 12 pieces. Put your lightly floured hand – slightly cupped, with fingers open – over 1 piece, then rotate your hand in a circular motion, pressing down on the dough to create a neat ball. Repeat with the rest of the dough. Put on 2 greased trays, spaced apart. Cover with oiled cling film and leave in a warm place to rise for 30 minutes.
5. Preheat the oven to 200°C/fan180°C/gas 6. Sift the remaining flour into a bowl and stir in about 125ml tap water to make a smooth wet paste. Spoon into a freezer bag, snip off the corner and pipe a cross over each bun. Bake for 15 minutes until golden.
6. Meanwhile, put the extra milk and extra sugar into a pan. Heat gently to dissolve the sugar, then boil for 2-3 minutes until syrupy. Brush the glaze over the warm buns. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Serve split open and toasted with lots of butter.
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