I found this recipe lurking deep in the bowels of my recipe note-book. It looks like I’d found it in a magazine at some stage, and unusually for me I haven’t dated it. I do remember it as being a very good recipe, and as these pictures prove, it worked again for me. If you fancy messing about with yeast, then give it a go yourself, and you’ll be impressing your friends and relations in the run-up to Easter!
Naturally, it wouldn’t be me if I didn’t tweak the recipe, so I’ve removed the candied peel – we’re just not fans in this house; it’s nothing more sinister than that. I found some lovely dried cranberries left over from Christmas, and some dried apricots, so I cut them until they were all the same size, and away I went!
- A large mixing bowl
- a small bowl
- a measuring jug
- Something to act as a piping bag, if you don’t already have one.
- A large, shallow baking tray, lightly buttered.
INGREDIENTS: this recipe makes 16 hot-cross buns.
- 2 sachets of dried yeast
- 55g golden caster sugar
- 250ml warm milk
- 600g plain flour
- 1 teaspoon of mixed spice
- 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 60g butter
- 125ml warm water
- 140g of dried fruit – about 90g of currants, with the remainder made up of whatever you like (in my case, a blend of dried cranberries and apricots, and the zest of an orange) bringing it all up to a total 140g. See NOTES below for suggestions.
- a tablespoon of Apricot jam – see NOTES
- 75g plain flour
- 1 tablespoon of white caster sugar
- 80mls approx. of water
- Put the golden caster sugar, yeast and warmed milk into a bowl, mix it together until it’s well combined, then cover it and put it in a warm place for 10 minutes, or until the yeast makes it froth up.
- sift the flour and spices into a large bowl, and rub in the butter – I found the easiest way to do this was to just grate cold butter into the flour and then rub it in by hand.
- Add the yeast mixture, the fruit and the 125ml of warm (not hot) water and mix together – I used a long-bladed knife to do this, but you could of course use the dough hook attachment from your mixer.
- When it has all come together (this happens amazingly quickly), leave it in the bowl, cover with a clean cloth, and put it in a warm place. In my kitchen this is usually the chair beside the radiator, but if you have a handy hot-press then that’s ideal too.
- Leave the dough there for about an hour, or until it has doubled in size.
- Measure out the ingredients for the paste, but don’t make it up just yet
- When the dough has doubled in size – flour your working surface and lift the dough out onto it.
- Then you have to knead it until it’s smooth and shiny – now I’m no expert at this, but we’ve all watched Bake-Off, right? So just do what they do.. mine turned out quite nicely I think – it’s actually good fun – I just pretend I’m Mary Berry!
- Now divide the dough into 4, then divide those pieces into 4 again, and roll them in your hands until they are vaguely bun-shaped and put them into your prepared baking tray, slightly separated from each other.
- Cover again and leave in your warm place for 20 minutes until the dough has risen.
- Make up the paste and put it into the piping bag.
- Heat the oven to 190 degrees
- When the buns have doubled in size (again!), pipe the crosses onto them – I found the best way to do this was to cover all the buns in one direction in a long pipe of paste, then turn the tin 90 degrees and do it in the other direction. It was a bit of an effort, as this stuff doesn’t come naturally to me, but it seemed to go ok. The trick is to take your time..
- Put the buns in the oven at 190 heat for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 160 and give them another 10-15 minutes or so. If you gently tap the top of one, they’ll sound quite dry if they’re done.
- Strain the jam into a small saucepan and heat this gently for a few minutes – this will make it easier to paint on.
- As soon as they come out of the oven, paint the glaze on with a liberal hand.
Eat your first one warm – they are supposed to be HOT cross buns – with lots of lovely cold butter and a nice cup of tea – you’ve earned it!
- The total quantity of fruit comes to 140g, so I think you can add any dried fruit (or zest) to make up that amount. Today I used currants, cranberries and apricots, but think of cherries, mixed peel or even that stem ginger from the jar – whatever is your family’s favourite is perfect.
- When I’ve got an hour to spare while the dough is proving, I use it to tidy most of the ingredients away and to prepare the tin for the buns.
- Another thing that’s really useful to do is to find the ”Book of your Oven” and check which shelf you should be using to bake these buns. I’m going with the ‘small cakes’ shelf this time.
- When I went to look today, I didn’t have any apricot jam, but I just warmed and strained some marmalade and it did very nicely!
- Don’t despair if your crosses come out a bit wonky, just remember that this is a quality home-made item you’re offering here – if the Philistines amongst your acquaintance demand perfect crosses, send them off to M+S!