Happy Easter! It would be sacreligious at this time of year not to make hot cross buns. Even if it is snowing outside. Actually, the spicy smell and rich, doughy taste of a freshly baked hot cross bun are even more welcome when you’re watching the snow drift past the window. They’re really more of a winter food than a spring food.
I used Paul Hollywoods recipe, which uses mixed fruit, orange zest and apples. I’ve never had hot cross buns with apple before but they really added a touch of moisture and sweetness, making them extra-special.
- 320ml full fat milk
- 50g butter
- 500g strong white flour
- 1tsp salt
- 75g caster sugar
- 7g fast-action yeast
- 1 egg, beaten
- 1 tbsp sunflower oil
- 75g sultanas
- 50g mixed peel
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 75g plain flour
- 3 tbsp apricot jam
- Bring the milk to the boil then remove it from the heat and add the butter, stirring it in so that it melts.
- In a large mixing bowl mix the strong white flour, salt, sugar and yeast (making sure you put the yeast and salt on opposite sides of the mixing bowl). Make a well in the middle, and pour in the milk and butter mixture. Pour in the egg on top.
- Mix it all together with a wooden spoon then, when it’s a bit firmer, with your hand. Be sure to pick up all the flour around the sides of the bowl.
- Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead for around 5 minutes until it feels stretchy, smooth and warm.
- Lightly oil the sides of the mixing bowl and put the dough back into it. Smooth a little oil over some cling film and use it to cover the bowl. then leave it in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size.
- Once it’s double, remove the cling film and tip all the dried fruit, zest, apple and cinnamon into the mixing bowl and work it evenly into the dough. Re-cover with the cling film and leave it for another hour to rise.
- Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll it into a long sausage shape. Cut it in half, and cut each half into 6 separate pieces.
- Mould the pieces into roughly round buns, and place onto a greased baking sheet.
- Cover loosely with the greased cling film (it shouldn’t be airtight) and leave in a warm place for another hour or until they’re well risen.
- Preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan). Mix the plain flour with water – just add it tablespoon by tablespoon until you have a thick mixture which holds it’s shape but is suitable for piping. Pipe crosses onto the buns – just pipe in a continuous line across the tray over each row of buns, and again for each row, then do the same in the opposite direction.
- Bake the buns for around 20 minutes, until golden brown. About 5 minutes before taking them out, put the apricot jam in a pan and bring to the boil. Sieve it to remove any lumps. When you take the buns out, immediately brush them with the apricot jam then leave to cool.
They’re such a lovely treat for Easter. I hate, I mean really hate, store-bought hot cross buns, they’re so dry and tasteless. But home-made buns are so delicious and comforting, and they make the house smell really amazing! They’re just all-rounders really.