I love Easter as a brilliant excuse to eat truly gluttonous amounts of chocolate. I also love hot cross buns at Easter time and every year wonder why I don’t eat them more often during the rest of the year. Each year I generally sample the different hot cross buns on offer from various bakeries, delis and supermarkets to decide just which one is preferred (I am against hot cross buns with mixed peel in them and I lean towards a heavy hand with the cinnamon and mixed spice). In search of the perfect hot cross bun I decided that this year would be the year that I would make my own hot cross buns.
It was not an easy journey. There were a few misfires involving yeast failing to rise. There was a small amount of disheartenment with the time and cost involved in the process given that Tesco currently has hot cross buns on sale for 60p for six. However, finally there was triumph. The joy and satisfaction of home made hot cross buns all toasty hot from the oven just ready to be smothered in butter.
1 tbsp dry active yeast
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
4 1/2 cups strong bread flour
11/2 cups sultanas
2 tsps cinnamon
50 g butter melted
2 tsp mixed spice
1/2 cup plain flour
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup golden syrup
1. Heat the milk until warm and then combine in a bowl with the yeast and 2 tsp of the sugar. Whisk and then set aside for 10 – 15 minutes making sure the bowl is covered with a tea towel and is not in a draught so that the yeast can work its magic.
2. Once the yeast has started foaming it is active and you can then sift in the flour, add the mixed spice, cinnamon, butter, egg, sultanas and remaining sugar. Mix until combined.
3. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 8 minutes or until elastic. Knead by pressing the mixture down with the base of your hands until flattened and then fold the mixture towards you and repeat.
4. Place in a bowl lightly greased with vegetable oil, cover with a tea towel and leave to stand out of a draught for 1 hour or until roughly double in size. Divide the dough into 12 balls.
5. Grease a 23 cm square baking tin and line with greaseproof (baking) paper. Place the dough balls in the tin, cover with the tea towel and set aside for 30 minutes until they rise.
6. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Combine the extra flour and water, place in a piping bag and pipe crosses on the buns. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and springy to touch.
7. Brush with the golden syrup while the buns are still hot.
Makes 12. Based on a recipe from Donna Hay’s Modern Classics: Book 2.
If you liked this and are in the mood for baking try this recipe for sticky caramel slice.