Does anyone else hear a recorder playing when someone says Hot Cross Buns?
I’ve never had a Hot Cross Bun, because I hate those shrivelled, disgusting sultanas and raisins inside them. But the smell of hot cross buns has always been heavenly to me. To me they smell like a warm and spicy welcome home. I also hate making dough. It is so much effort, you have to knead it and let it rise. I like to eat my baked good as soon as possible, and bread takes too long to prepare.
But my craving for hot cross buns was increasing. I kept seeing various flavours of hot cross buns in the supermarket, but still none without any sultanas or raisins. So I decided if I wanted them my way then I would have to put the effort in. You only get out, what you put in! The kneading and waiting around wasn’t actually that bad, especially once the whole dough had been formed. I could already sense how delicious these hot cross buns were going to be because of all the hard work I was putting in, plus the orange and cinnamon smelt good too.
I wasn’t exactly sure how to knead, and the twelve buns I made weren’t all the same size or shape, but that didn’t mean they weren’t heavenly. I am someone who prefers flavour over appearance. I have no creative flair, and I can’t make a cake look pretty in an Instagram picture to save my life. If what I makes tastes good, then I am happy with it.
Again, I turned to the Queen of Baking, Mary Berry, for a recipe. I made a few changes, such as not using sultanas, and I used the grind from one large orange for the flavouring. The buns were full of a rich, warm and spicy flavour, and I had them straight out of the oven, so the butter I spread on them melted in beautifully. That would have been quite the Instagramable image, had I remembered to take a picture and not stuff my face so quickly.
For the Buns
450g strong white flour
1 level teaspoon salt
1 level teaspoon ground mixed spice
1 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ level teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
7g sachet fast-action yeast
50g caster sugar
50g melted butter, cooled
150ml tepid milk (I was cheeky and gently heated my milk over the stove until it was the same temperature as my little finger)
5 tablespoons tepid water
1 large egg, beaten
The grated zest of 1 large orange
75g currents (if you must)
For the Cross
75g plain flour
5 tablespoons of water
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
- Measure the flour, salt, spices, yeast and sugar into a large bowl and stir to mix. Make a well in the centre and pour in the melted (cooled) butter, milk, water and egg, adding the currents and orange zest to the mixture last.
- Mix to a soft dough, then turn out on to a lightly floured work surface and knead for about 10 minutes until smooth and elastic. Transfer to an oiled bowl, cover with oiled Clingfilm and leave to rise until the dough has doubled in size, about 1 ½ hours in a warm room. (Because this is an enriched dough, it will take longer to rise than a plain dough.)
- Whilst the dough is rising lightly grease 2 baking trays with butter, and oil more Clingfilm to cover the two trays. Preheat the oven to 220oC/Fan 200oC/Gas Mark 7.
- Turn the risen dough out on to a lightly floured work surface again and knead for 2-3 minutes. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and shape each one into a round bun. Place the buns on the prepared baking tray and cover with oiled Clingfilm. Leave to rise until they have doubled in size, about 30 minutes.
- Mix the water and plain flour together to create a smooth paste. Place the mixture into a piping bag and cut of the end. Pipe a cross across the risen buns.
- Bake the buns in the pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes until brown and hollowing-sounding when the base is tapped. While the buns are baking, dissolve the sugar in the water over a gentle heat. As soon as the buns come out of the oven, brush them with the syrup to give a sticky glaze.
These have actually pushed me into wanting to try normal hot cross buns, and making more bread! I will definitely be making these again next year. I hope everyone else is enjoying all the hot cross buns and Easter themed chocolate at this time of year.