Deliciously soft and tender Hot Cross Buns. Spiced and fruity, these are a must bake for Easter!
Its cold and rainy out there this morning, and it almost doesn’t seem right to be bringing you a Spring recipe like these Hot Cross Buns. I’m feeling very bright and Spring-like myself today though, and willing the grey clouds and damp miserable air to disappear. Come 5 o’clock tonight I’m downing tools and whizzing straight to the airport. I’m jumping on a plane up to Edinburgh to see my very best friend from Uni, Lucy! Its an entire year since I’ve seen her, so I’m bouncing off the walls excited! I’m not sure exactly what we’ll be doing, but I know that they’ll lots of food, lots of cocktails, probably a fair amount of wine and cheese, and lots of very much overdue catch ups.
So, on this not very spring-like day, but with a spring-like bounce to my step, I’m bringing you another Easter recipe. No Easter baking collection would be complete without Hot Cross Buns, probably my favourite Easter food. Coming from a real chocolate lover, thats saying a lot!
Every year I try out a different Hot Cross Bun recipe. The first ones I tried were Nigella’s Hot Cross Buns. Last year I played around with flavours and made apricot and cardamom buns. This year I’ve gone with this recipe from Paul Hollywood. I always get good results from Paul’s recipes, and I have to say this is my Hot Cross Bun recipe so far. The buns it produces are incredibly light and fluffy. They’re pillowy soft inside, just crying out to be sliced in half, toasted, and slathered in melting butter.
The recipe uses chopped apple, an unusual ingredient. I chopped my apples finely, they bake into the dough and add lots of moisture, but you can’t really taste they’re there. I’ve adjusted the recipe just a little bit by upping the amount of spices. The original recipe was very lightly spiced with cinnamon. I like my Hot Cross Buns lovely and flavoursome, so I’ve increased the spice to two teaspoons of cinnamon, and a teaspoon of allspice. Feel free to play with the spice and flavours as it suits you. A bit of orange zest lifts all the flavours.
The traditional cross is made with a flour and water paste. I get very annoyed when I see recipes on Pinterest when the cross is iced on when the buns after they’ve been baked. Is that just me?! You could pipe it using a piping bag and a small round nozzle, or just use a small ziploc bag with the corner snipped off. I find this is a much tidier way to go about it.
Traditionally Hot Cross Buns should be glazed while they’re still warm with a bit of apricot jam. I used apple jam, as I had a big pot in the fridge. Please don’t be tempted to skip the glaze. It gives them their wonderful inviting shine, and adds an extra bit of sweetness to the buns.
– You can substitute the sultanas for any other dried fruit you have to hand. I’ve used raisins before, and mixed dried fruit would be delicious too.
– The dough should be quite damp and sticky, this is what helps give it such a lovely tender softness. It can make it quite hard to work with, but don’t be tempted to add more flour.
– Recipe is adapted, slightly, from Paul Hollywood.
- 300ml milk
- 50g butter
- 500g strong white bread flour
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 75g golden caster sugar
- 7g instant yeast
- 1 egg, beaten
- 75g sultanas
- 50g mixed peel
- zest 1 orange
- 1 apple, peeled, cored, and finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon allspice
- --- for the cross
- 75g plain flour
- --- for the glaze
- 3 tablespoons apricot or apple jam
- Bring the milk to the boil, turn the heat off, then add the butter. Allow the butter to melt into the hot milk by itself. Leave to cool until hand hot/ luke warm.
- In a large bowl, measure the flour, salt, caster sugar, and yeast. Make a well in the centre, and add the warm milk mixture, followed by the egg. Bring the ingredients together with a wooden spoon. Once the mixture has come together in a shaggy dough, turn out on a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until smooth. The dough will be quite sticky.
- Put the dough into an oiled bowl, cover tightly with cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for about an hour or until doubled in size.
- Once the dough has doubled, add the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, chopped apple, cinnamon and allspice with the dough still in the bowl. Knead the fruit into the dough until evenly distributed. Cover the bowl again with cling film, and leave to rise for another hour.
- Divide the dough out into 15 even portions. They should be around 75g in size, its best to weigh them out so they are equally sized, and bake evenly.
- Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Lay the buns out on the baking sheets, spread them out evenly with lots of space to spread as they rise. Leave them to rise for a final hour, until they have doubled in size.
- Pre-heat the oven to 220C / 200 C fan / 428F.
- To make the paste, mix the flour with 5 tablespoons of water. Using a piping bag fitted with a small round nozzle, pipe crosses across the buns.
- Bake for about 20 minutes, until the buns are golden.
- Take out of the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
- Heat the jam in a small pan, thinning it down with a splash of water if needed. Strain through a sieve, then brush over the warm buns.
- Once cool, spilt, toast, and cover in butter.