Gail’s hot cross buns
- March 2018
- Makes 20
- Hands-on time 50-55 min, oven time 20-22 min, plus rising and proving
The recipe for these hot cross buns comes from Gail’s Bakery and they’re ever so special. Each bun is packed full of dried fruit and finished with a spiced syrup to achieve that signature sticky top. Enjoy with plenty of butter, hot out the oven – it’s the best way.
- 5.7g fat (2.6g saturated)
- 38.5g (18.4g sugars)
- 20g fresh yeast (or 7g sachet regular or fast-action dried yeast)
- 200ml whole milk, plus 1½ tbsp
- 70g caster sugar, plus 1 tsp
- 400g plain flour, plus extra to dust
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 2 large free-range eggs, plus 1 yolk
- 70g soft unsalted butter (cut the cold butter into 2cm cubes and leave at room temperature for an hour before using)
- ½ tsp salt
- 40g sultanas
- 40g currants
- 40g dried unsweetened cranberries
- 70g dried mixed peel
For the cross topping
- 100g plain flour
- 115g icing sugar
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 tbsp milk
For the syrup
- 50g caster sugar
- 1 whole nutmeg
- 1 whole star anise
- 1 whole clove
- ½ vanilla pod split in half lengthways, seeds scraped
You’ll also need…
- Plastic piping bag; dough scraper
- In a large mixing bowl, dissolve the yeast with 1 tbsp whole milk and 1 tsp caster sugar. Make sure the yeast has completely dissolved and leave for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, you should notice small bubbles on top of your yeast liquid: that means your yeast is alive.
- In a separate bowl, sift the flour with the spices. Add the spiced flour to the yeast mixture, then add the 200ml milk, the 70g sugar and 1 egg. Stir the mixture, bringing it together using a wooden spoon or your hands until it forms a rough dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 4-5 minutes until elastic (see Roz’s tips). Knead in the butter, a cube at a time, for 4-5 minutes until all the butter has been incorporated and it forms a sticky dough (see Roz’s tips).
- Continue kneading the dough (you’ll need a scraper) for 5 minutes more until smooth and shiny. Add the salt and work it into the dough (see Roz’s tips). Add the dried fruit and peel and knead for 3 minutes.
- Put the dough in a lightly greased bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave at room temperature for 1½-2 hours until almost doubled in size (see Make Ahead/food team’s tips).
- Tip out the risen dough onto a lightly floured surface and use a dough scraper or knife to divide it into 20 x 50g pieces.
- Shape the dough pieces into smooth buns by rolling them on the work surface – make a cage with your fingers over the buns and move your hands in small circles, gently shaping them with your palms and fingers.
- Arrange the buns on a baking tray lined with non-stick baking paper (put all the buns on one tray) with a 2cm gap between each one. Cover the tray with a clean tea towel and leave to prove at room temperature for 1 hour until almost doubled in size.
- When the buns are ready (they should almost be touching each other), make an egg wash by whisking the remaining whole egg and yolk with the remaining ½ tbsp milk. Brush the buns carefully with the egg wash and leave to dry for
10 minutes, then brush again.
- Meanwhile, heat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Using a small balloon whisk, combine all the ingredients for the cross topping until you have a smooth paste. Fill the piping bag with the paste and cut a small hole in the end using scissors. (Always cut a smaller hole than you think you’ll need as you can make it bigger, but you can’t make a big hole smaller.) Pipe crosses on top of the buns (pipe horizontally along the whole line of buns, then vertically down the whole line – see Roz’s tips). Put the tray in the oven and immediately turn down the temperature to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Bake the buns for 20-22 minutes until golden and cooked.
- Meanwhile, put all the syrup ingredients in a small pan with 35ml cold water over a low heat. When the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat and simmer for a couple of minutes until syrupy. Remove from the heat and discard the spices (keep the vanilla pod for vanilla sugar). When the buns are ready, take them out of the oven and, while they’re still warm, brush with the hot syrup. Cool slightly, then enjoy.
This hot cross bun dough contains a lot of butter so it can take a long time to rise, especially in a cool room (yeast needs warmth to get to work). If your oven has a bread-proving setting, it’s useful here. Make sure the temperature stays below 60°C/ 40°C fan so you don’t kill the yeast.
Make sure the dough is very elastic before you start to add the butter. It should stretch rather than tear.
Once all the butter has been added, use the ‘window-pane test’ to see if your dough is ready. When the gluten has developed enough, the dough can be stretched until it’s thin enough to let the light through.
Adding the salt to the dough will cause the dough to break up slightly. Don’t worry – just keep kneading until you can no longer feel the salt grains and the dough has become smooth and shiny again before you start to add the fruit.
Pipe the cross topping slowly and in straight lines. If you move slowly as you squeeze, the paste will naturally fall in between the buns, so no need to move the bag up and down.
Make the dough up to 12 hours ahead (to the end of step 5) and leave to rise in the fridge overnight, loosely covered. Let it come to room temperature before shaping (step 6). The baked buns will keep for 48 hours but are best warmed through in a low oven before eating. Freeze the cooked buns for up to 1 month, well wrapped in cling film. Fully defrost and warm through in a low oven to serve.
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