Hot Cross Buns

It’s Easter – so I thought, why not make some hot cross buns. I’ve made them before, but not for a couple of years.  I’d forgotten now good home made hot cross buns are. Who cares if the buns are not all the same size? Who cares if some are a little darker than others? Who cares if the crosses are not all straight? Not me, that’s for sure!

This recipe makes about 20 small hot cross buns or 14 large ones. The size is up to you. The recipe is based on a Paul Hollywood one from his How to Bake book, but I’ve adapted it to suit our tastes. As usual I’ve included some images with the different stages of the bake below, but if you don’t want to read all of the steps then you can just Skip to the printable recipe.

The recipe does take a while because there are several stages – but boy it’s worth it!

When these are baking the whole house smells wonderful, it was all we could do not to eat them right out of the oven!

IMG_3099

Stage 1 – Make the dough 

  • Time = A few minutes to mix then 1 hour to rise
  • Ingredients = 300ml of milk (I used semi-skimmed), 50g of unsalted butter (at room temperature), 500g of strong white bread flour, 1tsp fine salt, 7g easy blend yeast or 15g of fresh yeast, 75g of caster sugar, 1 egg beaten.
  1. Gently warm the milk until it’s just coming to the boil then turn the heat off and tip in the butter, string until it’s melted. It helps if you cut the butter a bit as it will melt a bit faster.  Allow the mixture to cool to hand hot.
  2. While the milk and butter mixture is cooling combine the flour, sugar and salt and yeast in a large bowl. If you are using fresh yeast, before you add it, mix it with a bit of sugar and stir until it becomes liquid again then add it to the bowl.
  3. When the milk mixture is cool enough, tip in the beaten egg and stir really well to incorporate it. Take care to make sure your milk is only just warm, otherwise you’ll end up with scrambled eggs!
  4. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and, little by little, tip in the buttery, eggy milk. Stir well each time so that, by the time you’ve tipped the last bit of milk in you’ve got a sticky dough. Do not be tempted to add more liquid. At first the dough looks really dry, but trust me you won’t need more liquid, by the time you start kneading it the dough will be plenty wet enough and it is very sticky!
  5. Put about a tablespoon full of oil onto a work surface, tip the dough out and knead for about 10 minutes until it’s soft and stretchy.  It is quite sticky, but just work through it.
  6. Note that if you’ve got a stand mixer then you can set it to speed 1 and incorporate the milk, once the milk is all incorporated turn it up to speed 4 and let it kneed in the mixer for about 3 minutes.
  7. I actually prefer to make this one by hand even though it’s a sticky dough, it just feels so nice!
  8. Once the dough is kneaded, make it into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and let it rise for an hour – or until it’s doubled in size.

Image 1 = Adding the milky mixture. Image 2 = Stirring to combine. Image 3 = Pulling the mixture together to form a dough (don’t worry it’s normal to look a little dry at this stage). Image 4 = Starting to knead on the work surface (It still looks dry at this point, just work through it and don’t add more liquid). Image 5 = The dough after 5 minutes of kneading (see how stretchy it’s getting?). Image 6 = The dough after 10 minutes of kneading  (see how smooth it is now?).

Stage 2 – Add your fruit and rise again 

  • Time = 5 minutes to add the fruit, 1-1.5 hours to rise
  • Ingredients = 125g of mixed dried fruit (you can use any combination you like, I used sultanas and mixed peel, but currants, cranberries and even blueberries would work), 1 large apple peeled, cored and very finely chopped, 1 tsp ground cinnamon, 1tsp ground mixed spice, zest of 1 orange (I only had clementines so I zested two of those), zest and juice of a lemon.
  1. Combine the fruit, zest, lemon juice and spices in a small bowl. Give everything a really good stir so that the fruit is nicely covered in the spices.
  2. When the dough from stage 1 above has risen for 1 hour, make a well in the middle and tip in the fruit and spices.
  3. Leaving the dough in the bowl gently pull up a piece of dough from the side and fold over the fruit. Repeat this until the fruit is in the middle and then keep folding the dough over on itself to make sure the fruit is evenly distributed.
  4. Don’t worry if the fruit spills out and the dough tears, this is normal, just keep going until you are happy with the fruit distribution.
  5. Cover the dough and let it rise again until it’s doubled in size.  Mine took an hour and a half to double in size.

Image 1 = The fruit mixed with the zest, juice and spices. Image 2 = The dough after it’s rise, I poked the middle to make sure it was ready. Image 3 = Tipping the fruit on the dough. Image 4 = Incorporating the fruit. Image 5 = Ready to rise again!

Stage 3 – Shape and rise for one last time 

  • Time = 10 minutes to shape, 1 hour to rise
  • Equipment = 2 lined baking trays, a dough cutter (or knife), scales and some flour to dust your work surface and some extra in a bowl in case you need it.
  1. When the dough from stage 2 has doubled in size, flour your work surface, keep a bowl of flour on standby in case you need it as the dough is still sticky.
  2. Don’t worry about knocking back, just cut off about 40g and shape into a ball. The easiest way to do this is to flatten each 40g piece slightly and then pinch the edges into the middle, or, if you can cup your hand over each 40g piece and roll it around on the work surface until you get a ball shape.
  3. Place each ball onto the lined tray, you need to leave a little gap so that the dough rises and can spread out.
  4. When you’ve made all of the balls cover the trays with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for an hour. At the end of the hour the buns may have joined together, this is fine.

Image 1 = The dough after rising from stage 2. Image 2 = The dough ready to be cut. Image 3 = The shaped balls of dough before rising. Image 4 = The buns after rising.

Stage 4 – Add your crosses, bake and glaze 

  • Time = 5 minutes to add the crosses, 20 minutes to bake, 2 minutes to glaze
  • Ingredients = For the crosses – 75g of plain flour, 5tbsp of water. For the glaze 4-5tbsp of apricot jam warmed.
  • Equipment = two small bowls, a piping bag with a tiny nozzle (you can use a food bag with a tiny whole cut in the end), a pastry brush.
  • Oven temperature = 200 celcius for a fan oven
  1. Pre – heat your oven to 200 (fan) or 220 (conventional).
  2. Mix the plain flour with 4tbsp of the water until you get a smooth fairly thick paste. Only add the 5th tablespoon if the paste is still too thick to pipe.
  3. Spoon the paste into a piping bag set with a small nozzle and pipe straight across the row of buns, you don’t need to stop and start, simply pipe in one straight line. Then go the other way across each row.
  4. Pop the buns straight into the oven and bake for 20 mins. Don’t be tempted to open the oven door, at least for the first 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, if the buns look like they are cooking too quickly you can turn the temperature down a bit.  The buns do need the whole 20 minutes though, otherwise they won’t be cooked inside. Also, don’t panic if you’ve got a glass door oven and it looks like the crosses have disappeared, they will be there when the buns are baked I promise.
  5. About 5 minutes before the buns are due to come out of the oven warm your apricot jam.  I’d got a smooth variety, but if your has fruit in, once it’s warm, pass it through a sieve.
  6. After 20 minutes remove your buns from the oven and gently pull one apart to check they are cooked, if they are not, return to the oven for 5 minutes more.
  7. Once the buns are cooked place them on a wire rack and brush with the warmed apricot jam to glaze.
  8. If you can bear it allow to cool a little before slathering with butter and eating!

Image 1 = The tiny nozzle I used to pipe. Image 2 = The paste for the crosses. Image 3 = Gently pulling apart to check they are baked. Image 4 = The buns straight out of the oven. Image 5 = The buns once glazed.

I hope you enjoy making and eating these hot cross buns!, it’s great with soup or pasta – or just straight from the oven! Below is the printable recipe for these lovely hot cross buns.

For other recipes on my site please follow this link.

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Hot cross buns

  • Servings: 20 small buns or 14 large ones
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Hot cross buns - yum!

This recipe does take a bit of time, but it’s so worth it. The whole house smells wonderful when they are baking and the end result is absolutely delicious.

Ingredients

    For the dough
  • 300ml of milk (I used semi-skimmed)
  • 50g of unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 500g of strong white bread flour
  • 1tsp fine salt
  • 7g easy blend yeast or 15g of fresh yeast
  • 75g of caster sugar
  • 1 egg beaten.
  • For the filling
  • 125g of mixed dried fruit (you can use any combination you like, I used sultanas and mixed peel, but currants, cranberries and even blueberries would work)
  • 1 large apple peeled, cored and very finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground mixed spice
  • Zest of 1 orange (I only had clementines so I zested two of those)
  • Zest and juice of a lemon
  • For the crosses
  • 75g of plain flour
  • 4-5 tbsp of water
  • For the glaze
  • 4-5 tbsp of apricot jam

Directions

  1. Gently warm the milk until it’s just coming to the boil then turn the heat off and tip in the butter, string until it’s melted. It helps if you cut the butter a bit as it will melt a bit faster.  Allow the mixture to cool to hand hot.
  2. While the milk and butter mixture is cooling combine the flour, sugar and salt and yeast in a large bowl. If you are using fresh yeast, before you add it, mix it with a bit of sugar and stir until it becomes liquid again then add it to the bowl. When the milk mixture is cool enough, tip in the beaten egg and stir really well to incorporate it. Take care to make sure your milk is only just warm, otherwise you’ll end up with scrambled eggs!
  3. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and, little by little, tip in the buttery, eggy milk. Stir well each time so that, by the time you’ve tipped the last bit of milk in you’ve got a sticky dough. Do not be tempted to add more liquid. At first the dough looks really dry, but trust me you won’t need more liquid, by the time you start kneading it the dough will be plenty wet enough and it is very sticky!
  4. Put about a tablespoon full of oil onto a work surface, tip the dough out and knead for about 10 minutes until it’s soft and stretchy.  It is quite sticky, but just work through it. Note that if you’ve got a stand mixer then you can set it to speed 1 and incorporate the milk, once the milk is all incorporated turn it up to speed 4 and let it kneed in the mixer for about 3 minutes. I actually prefer to make this one by hand even though it’s a sticky dough, it just feels so nice! Once the dough is kneaded, make it into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film and let it rise for an hour – or until it’s doubled in size.
  5. Combine the fruit, zest, lemon juice and spices in a small bowl. Give everything a really good stir so that the fruit is nicely covered in the spices. Make a well in the middle of the risen dough and tip in the fruit and spices. Leaving the dough in the bowl gently pull up a piece of dough from the side and fold over the fruit. Repeat this until the fruit is in the middle and then keep folding the dough over on itself to make sure the fruit is evenly distributed. Don’t worry if the fruit spills out and the dough tears, this is normal, just keep going until you are happy with the fruit distribution. Cover the dough and let it rise again until it’s doubled in size.  Mine took an hour and a half to double in size.
  6. Flour your work surface, keep a bowl of flour on standby in case you need it as the dough is still sticky. Take your risen fruity dough and tip it onto the work surface. Don’t worry about knocking back, just cut off about 40g and shape into a ball. The easiest way to do this is to flatten each 40g piece slightly and then pinch the edges into the middle, or, if you can cup your hand over each 40g piece and roll it around on the work surface until you get a ball shape. Place each ball onto the lined tray, you need to leave a little gap so that the dough rises and can spread out. When you’ve made all of the balls cover the trays with a clean tea towel and leave to rise for an hour. At the end of the hour the buns may have joined together, this is fine.
  7. Pre – heat your oven to 200 (fan) or 220 (conventional).
  8. Mix the plain flour with 4tbsp of the water until you get a smooth fairly thick paste. Only add the 5th tablespoon if the paste is still too thick to pipe. Spoon the paste into a piping bag set with a small nozzle and pipe straight across the row of buns, you don’t need to stop and start, simply pipe in one straight line. Then go the other way across each row.
  9. Pop the buns straight into the oven and bake for 20 mins. Don’t be tempted to open the oven door, at least for the first 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, if the buns look like they are cooking too quickly you can turn the temperature down a bit.  The buns do need the whole 20 minutes though, otherwise they won’t be cooked inside. Also, don’t panic if you’ve got a glass door oven and it looks like the crosses have disappeared, they will be there when the buns are baked I promise.
  10. About 5 minutes before the buns are due to come out of the oven warm your apricot jam.  I’d got a smooth variety, but if your has fruit in, once it’s warm, pass it through a sieve.
  11. After 20 minutes remove your buns from the oven and gently pull one apart to check they are cooked, if they are not, return to the oven for 5 minutes more. Once the buns are cooked place them on a wire rack and brush with the warmed apricot jam to glaze. If you can bear it allow to cool a little before slathering with butter and eating!

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Bread, Baking and More

Lover of bread, baking and growing my own veg.

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