Happy Easter Monday!
Ok, so I’m a little late to the party with these hot cross buns. My weeks have been pretty crazy lately, but I’ve finally managed to get back in the kitchen and spend a few days doing what I love and I’ve got some great treats lined up for you… starting with these amazing soft and sticky spiced buns!
As this is my first Easter living in Switzerland, and it seems that hot cross buns have not yet made it across the channel, I thought I would have a go at making them myself.
For those of you who don’t know, hot cross buns are a bit of an Easter tradition for us Brits, but what I had never realized before was that pancakes and hot cross buns are essentially the delicious book ends marking lent. We eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday to use up the last of the fats and sugars in the house, and hot cross buns on Good Friday to reintroduce those foods back into the home – who knew?! Oh, And apparently if you make the buns on Good Friday, they will never go mouldy and you can hang them in your house all year round for good luck (not sure I’ll be testing that myth though!)
If you’ve never attempted these before, you’ve probably heard that they’re a bit of a faff to make. I’m not going to pretend they take 5 minutes, but trust me, they’re easier than you think and a whole world away from the shop bought kind! Most of the prep time is actually just waiting for the dough to rise, so plenty of time to spend with friends and family over the long weekend, and they’ll either be prefect for an afternoon snack, or if you prove them in the fridge overnight you can enjoy them the next day for breakfast!
If you want my advice, ALWAYS eat them warm. Even when they get a few days old and you’re considering throwing them out, just stick them in the oven and let the heat work its magic – they’ll go back to being soft on the inside, gently crisp on the outside and your butter will melt gorgeously on top. Oh and talking of leftover buns… hot cross bun french toast anyone?!
For the cross on top, pipe the paste really close to the bun, almost pressing it into the top. You can even score a light cross in the buns before the final prove to make the piping nice and easy later on. Leave that cross sticking out too much and you risk it going hard while it cooks, and let’s face it, no one wants their light fluffy mouthful of bun interrupted by a sudden unwelcome crunch… Can you tell this is what happened to me the first time?! 😳
Replace the currants with chocolate chips for an even sweeter version, or add some dried apricots or cranberries if you fancy something fruitier. Enjoy!
How do you like your hot cross buns? Traditional? Plain? Dotted with chocolate chips? Or do you break all the rules and go for something a little different?
- 300ml full fat milk
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
- 50g butter
- 7g sachet dried yeast
- 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 75g white caster sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 100g sultanas
- 50g mixed peel
- Zest 1 orange
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 70g plain flour
- 4-5 tbsp water
- 50g apricot jam or marmalade
- Gently heat the milk over a medium heat and stir in the cinnamon, mixed spice and nutmeg. As soon as the milk begins to boil, remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool to room temperature.
- Dissolve the yeast in 50ml of the warm milk mixture, then mix in the flour, sugar and salt.
- Make a well in the middle and pour in the milk mixture followed by the egg.
- Add the sultanas, mixed peel and orange zest, mix well, then use your hands to bring the dough together. It should be soft and a little sticky.
- Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth and elastic. (If you have a stand mixer, you can use the dough hook on a low speed for at least 5 minutes)
- Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with oiled cling film or a clean damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour, or until doubled in size.
- Once risen, tip the dough out and knead for a minute or so, then divide into 16 equal pieces (about 70g each) and roll into round buns. Place the buns on a baking tray (you may need two), cover with a clean, damp tea towel, and leave to rise for another hour until doubled in size.
- Heat the oven to 170oC.
- Make the paste for the cross by mixing the flour with water. Add the water 1 tbsp at a time until you have a thick paste. Pipe the paste in a thick cross over the top of the buns (do this slowly so the paste hugs the surface of the buns with no gaps).
- Bake the buns for 15-20 minutes until golden brown (watch them carefully towards the end of the cooking time to make sure they don't catch).
- While the buns are baking, prepare the glaze by gently heating the jam. Pass it through a sieve to remove any lumps, then brush it over the buns while both the jam and the buns are still warm.
- Serve the buns while still warm with butter or jam
- If you don't want to eat the buns immediately, put them in the oven for 5 minutes before serving, or cut them in half and toast them