Had I really thought about it, I would have prepped more the night before but after a long, hard day at work I managed only to get the ingredients measured and ready for the next morning. So the hot cross buns didn’t quite make it for morning tea but they were ready by lunchtime.
I’d been inspired to make hot cross buns after a trip to the supermarket to buy some Easter goods for a farewell at work. The sad offerings of eight squashed, dark and inedible looking hot cross buns made me want to go and spend $3 each on some good ones but it wasn’t my money to splash around. Of course I didn’t eat any of them, such was their lack of appeal. So what better time to try to make them myself?
I’ve had a couple of hot cross bun recipes lurking in my recipe folder for years now and chose this one from the now defunct (I think?) Notebook magazine. I replaced the stated plain 00 flour for high-grade flour and added a pinch each of nutmeg and cinnamon. Next time I might add a little more spice but other than that I was really happy with how they turned out.
I thought I was going to have an epic fail on piping those crosses but I was surprised at how easy it was. I think last week’s Easter cupcake icing was still fresh in my mind.
What really amazed me was how excited I was the whole morning it took me to do them (don’t be put off, there’s a lot of down time for the dough in there). Isn’t it great to be excited about something? I’ve missed that!
Hot Cross Buns
1½ cups (375ml) warm milk
2 tsp (7g) dried yeast
¼ cup (55g) caster sugar
60g butter, melted
1 egg, lightly whisked
4½ cups (675g) high-grade flour
1 tsp salt
3 tsp mixed spice
a pinch each of ground cinnamon and nutmeg
1 cup (170g) sultanas
¼ cup (45g) currants
¼ cup (50g) mixed peel
1/3 cup (80ml) cold water
Glaze: ½ cup (170g) apricot jam
Combine the milk, yeast and 1 tablespoon of the sugar in a measuring jug. Set aside in a warm, draught-free place for 10 minutes or until frothy (I use the hot water cupboard for this.)
Once the above is ready, add the melted butter and egg to the mix and whisk to combine.
In a large bowl or cake mixer bowl, sift together 4 (600g) cups of the flour (keeping the remainder for the paste for the crosses), salt and spices then mix in the sugar. Add the sultanas, currants and mixed peel and stir to combine. Make a well in the centre, pour in the milk mixture and stir to bring the dough together. If you’re kneading by hand, turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, using the dough hook attachment on the cake mixer, turn the mixer to a slow speed and knead for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic.
Place the dough in a bowl, cover with a damp tea towel and transfer to a warm, draught free place for 1 hour or until the dough doubles in size.
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Grease and line a 23cm square cake tin (I used two smaller ones). Punch the dough down with your fist. Turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 2-3 minutes or until it is smooth and elastic.
Divide dough into 16 even pieces and shape each into a ball. Place them close to each other in the tin(s), then set aside for 30 minutes in (yes, you guessed!) a warm, draught free place until dough has risen 2cm.
Mix the remaining flour and water together to form a smooth paste. Place in an icing bag with small round piping nozzle or in a plastic bag with the end snipped off. Pipe a continuous line down the centre of each row of buns, lengthways and widthways, to form crosses.
Bake the buns for 10 minutes at 200°C. Reduce heat to 180°C and cook for a further 20 minutes, until dark golden and cooked through. The buns will be ready when they sound hollow when tapped on the base.
Use the baking paper to lift them onto a wire rack to cool.
Meanwhile, heat the apricot jam over a high heat in a small saucepan. Cook, stirring, for two minutes until jam melts. Sieve the jam into a small bowl and brush the tops of the hot cross buns with it.
Leave to cool. Serve with butter and/or jam. They are also very good toasted.
These are best eaten on the day. The buns themselves were fine the next day but the crosses hardened so I removed them (they just lifted off, still leaving a cross indent).