Having spent many an evening searching through my cookbooks and endless supply of torn-out recipe clippings for an Easter recipe, I surprised myself by deciding on a batch of Hot cross buns. I had a brain-stack of ideas for pretty cakes or muffins to bake… simple little things.
I like simple. Bake, admire, taste and quickly move on – might have something to do with the constant deadlines I need to meet in work, or maybe just a lack of patience.
Either way, Hot cross buns are not high on my simply baking list, but they are seasonal… and I do love their spicy flavour… so I bought some yeast, set an evening aside – because you really do – scrubbed the small one’s hands, made promises of great fun and we got baking.
Setting the timer to 10 minutes we took turns to knead the dough, a minute each before putting it aside in a slightly oiled bowl. We then had lots… and lots… and lots… of time to play, while we waited for the dough to double in size.
Two hours later and time finally up, we got to mould the dough into twelve round buns, leave again to rise, play some more, a little telly, a snuggle with teddy and sleepy eyes, which eventually closed over for the night.
And left alone, the small one tucked up in bed, I finished the hot cross buns, cutting the crosses deep into the top of the dough, adding the pastry and the sugar glaze and relishing the beauty of the smell as they baked.
Out of the oven, three hours passed, I finally got to admire and taste. The hubby passed me a strange look when I remarked “Whow, they actually taste like Hot cross buns”. Well… I won’t lie, I was slightly amazed, my very first attempt ever using yeast. I really should have had more faith.
Makes 12 • Baking time: 15-20 minutes • Adapted from Love food, Baking cookbook
500g strong white bread flour
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons mixed spice
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1½ teaspoons easy-blend dried yeast
50g castor sugar
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
50g mixed peel
25g chopped glace cherries
1 egg beaten
For the crosses
50g plain flour
2 tablespoons butter
A little water
3 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons castor sugar
1. Sift the flour, salt, mixed spice, nutmeg and cinnamon into a warmed bowl.
2. Stir in the yeast, sugar, lemon rind, currants, raisins, mixed peel and chopped cherries and make a well in the centre.
3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add the milk and heat until lukewarm. Stir this along with the beaten egg into the well and mix to form a soft dough
4. Turn the dough out on to a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Then place the dough into a lightly greased bowl and cover with cling-film. Leave to rise in a warm place for 1½-2 hours.
5. Lightly grease a baking tray. Turn out the dough again on to a floured surface and knead for one minute. Make 12 equal balls and place on the baking tray. Flatten slightly and cover loosely with lightly greased cling-film. Leave to prove in a warm place for about 45 minutes.
6. Preheat oven to 220c/gas 7/200c (fan).
7. To make the crosses: sift the flour into a bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add in about a tablespoon of cold water and mix to form a soft dough. Pull off 24 even pieces and roll into equal sized sausage shapes with your fingers. Set aside.
8. To make the sugar glaze: gently heat the milk and sugar in a saucepan until the sugar dissolves.
9. When the dough has risen, cut a deep cross on the top of each bun. Place the pastry crosses in the cuts and flatten slightly. Brush a little glaze over each one.
10. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Turn out onto a wire tray to cool.