Hot Cross Buns!
The smell of cinnamon, mixed spices & oranges coming from the kitchen this time of year usually means that I’m making one of my favourite bun recipes – Hot Cross Buns. For me, Good Friday is the day for making them and of course eating them, and I think they taste better on the day you make them – in fact straight out of the oven while they are still HOT, cut in half with lots of butter and washed down with a cup of tea. Once cold, and if there are any left, they can be cut in half and toasted under the grill, or zapped in the microwave for a few seconds just to fluff them up a little. You can adapt the recipe to be gluten free if you need.
I know some of you might not have all the ingredients to make these, I didn’t have any mixed peel, so I used chopped up dried apricots instead and made up the small amount of sultanas I had with dried cranberries. I also had run out of strong white bread flour and used a mixture of Wholemeal, Self Raising Flour and Plain Flour which seemed to work. Maybe get other family members to help to make them as it will be a fun activity which will last a few hours and you will be rewarded well.
Below is the recipe I use. I think it may come from a Paul Hollywood book, but it’s a recipe I’ve been using for years now which I have typed out and saved into my ‘recipe folder’ but have adapted slightly. I particularly like the chopped apple inside which keeps the bun lovely and moist.
Most of you know I cook outside a lot on my BBQ, so I’ve included this technique in the recipe too should you wish to give it a go.
Happy Easter and happy baking!
500g strong bread flour (can be substituted for Gluten Free flour to make this recipe GF)
1 tsp salt
75g caster sugar
7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast
1 egg, beaten
50g mixed peel (or 125g dried mixed fruit for the dried fruit ie. Sultanas & mixed peel)
zest 1 orange
1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
For the crosses – 75g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
For the glaze – 3 tbsp apricot jam or orange marmalade
Gently warm the milk and add the butter; stir to help it melt. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature.
Put the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the salt, sugar and yeast into separate corners of the bowl (they shouldn’t touch early on as it will affect the yeast working). Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, then add the egg. Add in the dried mixed fruit, apple, orange zest, ground cinnamon and mixed spice. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough.
Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead for about five minutes until smooth and elastic. If it is a little sticky, add just a bit more flour. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. If you have an electric mixer, put all the ingredients into the bowl, use the dough hook attachment and mix for 5 minutes. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hr or until doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 12 even pieces. Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured work surface. Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Cover with more oiled cling film, or a clean tea towel, then set aside to prove for an hour (or until doubled in size).
To make the crosses on the buns, mix the 75g flour with about 5 tbsp water to make a paste – add the water 1 tbsp at a time, so you add just enough for a thick paste. Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Pipe crosses on the buns.
Cooking in the Oven
If cooking in a domestic oven, you want the temperature at about 200C and cook the buns for about 15 minutes. Usual bake test, brown on top and sounding hollow when tapped on the base of the buns. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool a little.
Cooking on the BBQ or Kamado Joe
If cooking the buns in a BBQ, I cook them in the Kamado Joe for about 30 mins at 150C using the deflector plates and cooking on the top grill, putting an upturned tin on the grill before placing on the tray or dish with the buns on. Usual bake test, brown on top and sounding hollow when tapped on the base of the buns. Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool a little.
Gently heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve to get rid of any chunks and brush over the top of the warm buns. Alternatively you could use orange marmalade. The loaves should be wonderfully soft and light. Serve warm with butter.