Hot cross buns and hot choc buns
I love a good hot cross bun and I think this is shared by a lot of people in England as they seem to be in on sale the shops permanently when I visit the UK. This is a shame, as like seasonal fruit and vegetables, the anticipation is part of the treat. However, I am guilty of tucking in out of season, but to atone for this and with Easter coming up (and Sarah from Simply Cooked setting them as the Fresh From the Oven baking challenge) I set about making some.
Who knew that Hot Cross buns were so simple to make? They turned out soft, with a firm crumb, the blandness of the slightly sweet dough dotted with fruit and spice and layered with an unctuous, sticky glaze. They froze really well too, which was essential as no-one in our house likes dried fruit (except me). What a shame that my family wouldn’t be sharing my bun indulgence. A quick Google later and I found the ideal recipe for them – a dark chocolate bun with chocolate chips, aromatic with spice and orange glaze but sans raisins. They went down a storm. The recipe is here and was a doddle using a dough hook on my KitchenAid.
For the traditional version, I didn’t use Sarah’s original recipe exactly as it made 24 (which I knew I would eat single-handedly) and I wasn’t up to converting it. I also fancied a traditional pastry cross and a glossy glaze that I’d seen in my Baker & Spice book. I made my pastry a bit stiff for piping so they are not the most delicate but they tasted great.
Happy Easter to you if you are celebrating. If not it’s worth taking the plunge with these buns. You can see how everyone else got on at the end of the month on Fresh From the Oven. (Sorry FFTO crew, mine is early, but Belleau Kitchen, then Things We Make were rebels and I couldn’t wait!)
Hot Cross Buns (adapted from River Cottage Handbook – Bread by Daniel Stevens)
250g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
250g plain white flour
125ml warm water
125 warm milk
5g fast-action dried yeast
50g caster sugar
1 medium free-range egg
100g sultanas and currants (or a mixture of dried fruit)
1 dried apricot, cut into small pieces
finely grated zest of half an orange
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
For the crosses:
1tbsp sunflower oil
2-3tbsp water (or enough to make the dough into piping consistency)
1 egg yolk
1 tablespoon milk
100g caster sugar
50 ml orange juice
You can do this by hand but the dough will be sticky so I recommend using a food processor or free-standing mixer with a dough hook. Warm the water, milk and butter together very gently until the butter melts and when it has cooled to blood temperature (feels barely warm when you stick your finger in it) mix in the yeast and leave for 5 minutes. Combine the flours, milk yeast mixture, salt and sugar in a bowl and fit the dough hook. Add the egg and mix to a sticky dough. Now add the dried fruit, orange zest and spice and knead on a low-speed until silky and smooth.
Cover the dough and leave to rise for about an hour, or until doubled in size.
Knock back the dough and divide into 8 equal pieces. Shape into rounds and dust with flour. Place on a floured board and leave to prove, covered with a linen tea towel (or in a large plastic bag) for about 30 minutes until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 200°C and make the paste for the crosses by beating the water and oil into the flour until smooth . Transfer the paste into a piping bag with a small nozzle. Beat the egg and milk together.
Make a cross with a sharp knife across the top of the buns. Brush with the egg wash and then pipe crosses onto the indentation and bake for 15–20 minutes.
Transfer to a wire rack. Dissolve the sugar in the orange juice in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Brush the glaze over the buns. Cool to room temperature before pulling apart and eating plain or halved with butter.