Hot Cross Buns
(Roberta Muir recipe)
We always had hot cross buns on Good Friday when I was growing up and never on any other day. They were a special treat marking the beginning of the Easter long weekend and traditional is still my favourite, they don’t need chocolate or any other fancy additions, just a touch of spice and dried fruit. Vary the spices and fruit to suit what you like or have on hand: use just mixed spice or cinnamon if that’s all you have, currants or raisins instead of (or as well as) sultanas, mixed peel or any other candied peel you like. Eat these hot cross buns split with lashings of butter fresh from the oven or reheated for a few minutes. Any leftovers are great toasted with a nice cup of tea. Ahhhh!
Makes 12 buns
- 100ml lukewarm water
- 2½ tablespoons light brown sugar
- 7g dried yeast
- 500g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
- ½ teaspoon salt flakes
- ½ teaspoon mixed spice
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- About ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
- 150ml lukewarm milk
- 50g salted butter, melted, plus extra for brushing
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 50g sultanas
- 50g candied peel, finely diced
- ½ cup plain flour
- 40g cold butter, diced
- 1 tablespoon water, more or less
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons castor sugar
- Combine water and ½ tablespoon of the sugar in a mixing bowl.
- Sprinkle yeast over the top, stir it in and set aside for 10 minutes or so, until frothy.
- Sift flour into the bowl. Add remaining sugar, salt, mixed spice, cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Make a well in the centre and pour in milk, butter and egg.
- Mix to form a soft dough then tip onto a lightly floured work bench.
- Scatter with sultanas and candied peel and knead well, until smooth and elastic.
- Place in a deep, buttered bowl, cover with a clean dry tea towel and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for an hour or so, until doubled in size.
- Meanwhile make Cross Dough: rub butter into flour and mix with just enough water to form a pliable dough, divide into 24 pieces and, using the tips of your fingers, gently roll each one on a bench into a thin strip about 14cm long; don’t make them too thin or they’ll break when the buns rise in the oven. Cover and set aside.
- Punch the risen bun dough down to its original size and divide into 12 even-sized pieces (digital scales are useful for this).
- Working one at a time, keeping the others covered with a clean dry tea towel, roll a piece of dough between the palms of your hands to form a ball, gently stretch and tuck the dough under the bottom of the ball, poking any protruding pieces of fruit back in, to form a smooth bun.
- Place on a buttered, flour-dusted baking tray with plenty of space between each bun.
- Using a razor blade or sharp knife, slash a cross in the top of each bun; cover with a clean dry tea towel and set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 30 minutes or so, until doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 250°C.
- Drape 2 dough strips across the top of each bun to form a cross, gently pressing them onto the sides or tucking them under to secure.
- Reduce oven temperature to 220°C, place tray in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown.
- Meanwhile, make Glaze: combine water and sugar in a small saucepan until sugar has dissolved. Set aside until buns are cooked.
- Remove buns from oven, brush well with glaze and set aside to cool a little.