Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Hot Cross Buns

Over the Easter break, we were lucky enough to go away with a few close friends, one of whom was kind enough to share his Hot Cross Bun Recipe.
 One of my favourite parts of Easter is enjoying hot cross buns for breakfast or an afternoon snack. I usually stock up on a few packs and freeze them at the end of Easter so I can enjoy them for a couple of weeks after the Easter weekend, but a year or so ago I decided to try my hand at making my own so I could enjoy them as long as I want. I was surprised to find they're not quite as difficult to make as I was expecting.

Following is the recipe from my most recent batch. I find that with every making it evolves slightly, with additional spices and fruit or slightly different ratios. Don't be afraid to experiment yourself, and post back any suggestions in the comments!


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
2 tsp ground nutmeg
4 tsp ground cinnamon
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

For the glaze
1 tbsp water
1 tsp gelatin powder
1 tbsp castor sugarMethod:


For the buns

Combine sugar, yeast and milk in a bowl, stir until sugar is almost dissolved, and 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.

Lightly coat the currants and sultanas in flour (this isn't critical, but makes it easier to get the fruit to spread evenly through your dough).

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.

Stir in yeast mixture, egg, peel, currants and sultanas until well combined.

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

Pre-heat oven to 220C.

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 (a tea strainer is useful for this). 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 three more times 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 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.

Enjoy toasted and slathered with butter!


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