I try to resist buying Hot Cross Buns before Easter, I really do. But it gets really difficult at this time of year to maintain that resistance; the weather is getting cooler, and by late March, they have already been on sale in supermarkets for three months.
These are pretty easy to make at home and I find using a bread machine to knead the dough makes them pretty fail-safe.
This recipe is adapted from Donna Hay’s Modern Classics (Book 2)
Hot Cross Buns
For making the buns:
- 600 g Plain flour
- 1 teaspoon (tsp) bread improver (optional)
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 100 g caster sugar, plus ½ tablespoon (Tbs) for the yeast
- 7g dried yeast
- 1 ½ cups luke-warm full cream milk
- 50 g melted butter (cooled slightly)
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
- 180 g sultanas
- 75 g currants
- 60 g candied peel (orange and lemon)
For making the crosses:
- 50 g plain four
- ¼ to ⅓ cup water
For making the glaze:
- ¼ cup sugar
- 3 Tbs water
- 1 tsp powdered gelatin
- Sift the flour and spices together (and bread improver, if using), then stir through the caster sugar in a large bowl (or transfer to the bowl of a bread machine).
- In a separate bowl, combine the yeast, milk and ½ tablespoon sugar and allow the yeast to activate (about 5 minutes – it will be slightly foamy).
- Mix the butter and egg into the yeast mixture and add to the flour mixture in the bread machine and run on a ‘dough only’ setting (to knead and prove). Add the sultanas, currants and peel after the first five minutes of kneading (they will disintegrate if you add them too early).
- If not using a bread machine, mix all ingredients together (including fruit) until they form a sticky dough, then transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead until soft and pliable (about ten minutes). Place in a bowl, cover and rest in a warm place for about an hour until doubled in size.
- Prepare a high-sided baking tray (I use a 20 cm x 30 cm slice tin) by greasing the surface and lining with baking paper.
- Remove dough from bread-machine bowl and ‘knock back’ (re-knead for a minute or two to remove excess air), before dividing into 12 and shaping into balls.
- Place each ball in the tray so they are barely touching, cover with a clean tea towel and leave to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes until risen.
- Pre-heat oven to 200°C (180°C fan forced).
- Prepare the flour and water for the crosses by whisking together so there are no lumps and spoon into a ziplock sandwich bag (it should be a reasonably thick, but ‘pourable’ consistency and not clumpy).
- Make the crosses by cutting a little hole in the corner of the bag and slowly piping across each row of buns from one end of the tray to the other in both directions.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then turn oven down to 190°C (170°C fan forced) for a further 20 minutes until they turn a wonderful mid-caramel brown and the house smells like heaven!
- Remove from oven and keep in tray while you make the glaze by heating the water and sugar on the stove top on a medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Mix the gelatine in a little hot water (about 1 tablespoon) and add to the syrup, mix well and cook for one to two minutes.
- Use a pastry brush to glaze the buns while they are still hot (I lightly glaze the buns to avoid them becoming too sticky).
- Allow to cool in tray for ten minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
- Serve warm with lashings of butter.
- I prefer to use a bread making machine for kneading and proving the dough. I find otherwise my buns end up too hard and dry. I also add a teaspoon of bread improver to the mix for extra light and fluffy buns.
- Extras freeze well after they have cooled following baking and glazing (if they last that long!).