My friends Michele and Claire have a tradition of making hot cross buns on Good Friday and inviting friends around to enjoy them. I have often been the grateful recipient of the “buns are ready” txt and raced around to enjoy them with a cup of coffee, sitting in the sunshine on their patio. I was inspired this time to go home and make some myself: my first try was almost a total failure despite using a bread mix and doing the first part in the bread machine. I have been determinedly trying different recipes (and getting some fresh yeast) and have finally had success with a ‘manual’ recipe. If you don’t put the cross on you can enjoy spicy fruit buns spread with butter at any time of year.
500g white flour
2 tsp active dry yeast (1 sachet)
50g diced dried apricots (I didn’t have apricots and like the tang of citrus so used more mixed peel and currants)
30g mixed peel
Zest of an orange
300ml warm milk (NB not hot or you will kill the yeast)
50g butter, cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon (I will add even more spices next time)
1 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ginger
Egg wash: 1 Egg and 2 tbsp Milk
Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and spices. Add the butter and rub through the flour using your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the dried fruit, orange zest and mixed peel. Sprinkle the yeast over the top, pour in the warm milk and mix together thoroughly.
Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough into a lightly oiled bowl and cover it. Then put in a warm place and leave to rise until doubled in size – approx. 2 hours depending on conditions. Tip: put it in the microwave on the lowest heat setting for 2 minutes and then leave with the door shut for the rest of the time.
After the dough has risen, punch it down and knead for another 2 minutes. Divide the dough into 12 even pieces and roll each bun into shape. Put the buns onto a greased baking tray so that they aren’t touching. If desired, very lightly score the tops of the buns with a cross using a knife.
Cover the buns with a tea towel and leave to rise for another 40 minutes or until well risen. Brush the risen buns with the egg/milk wash. Bake for 12-15 minutes in a pre-heated oven at 220C or until the buns are golden brown.
If you are making hot cross buns: mix 75g white flour, 40g butter (cut into small pieces) and a little water to get the consistency of a paste. Line the indent of the cross with the paste before baking. When the buns come out of the oven, brush each bun generously with a sugar glaze (1 tbsp caster sugar, 1 tbsp boiling water).