Do you prefer them freshly baked or toasted? With loads of dried fruit in or just a few simple raisins? Or how about smothering them in something sweet, or just tearing into them? Whatever your preference why not hone your bakery skills this Easter with a classic Hot Cross Buns recipe?
Traditionally eaten on Good Friday to signal the end of lent Hot Cross Buns can officially be traced back to the 18th century (1733) in London, but there are records dating way back to the 14th Century (1361) where Monks on St Albans created the ‘Alban Bun’ which contained a similar recipe.
The reason there may not be any official record of buns being made any earlier than that was that there was a decree issued in the late 1500’s that lasted well into the 16th Century that forbidden anyone selling buns with a cross on as well as other spiced breads, so a lot were simply made at home
And we’ve all heard of Superfood’s right? Well if you believe English folklore then you can add Hot Cross Buns to that list, because…
Buns baked and served Good Friday will apparently not spoil or grow mouldy during the subsequent year. You can keep them for medicinal purposes, as a piece of it given to someone ill is said to help them recover, and if taken on a sea voyage, hot cross buns are said to protect against shipwreck, and finally if hung in the kitchen, they are said to protect against fires and ensure that all breads turn out perfectly, although you do need to replace the bun each year……just so you know.
And despite what looks like a long list of ingredients and instruction they really aren’t that difficult to make, and should produce buns that are fluffy and fragrant.
Hot Cross Buns Recipe
Prep Time: 25 mins / Cook Time: 20 mins / Total Time: 45 mins
- 1 tablespoon dry yeast
- 110g / ½ cup caster sugar (superfine sugar)
- 1½ cups / 375ml milk, whole or low fat, lukewarm
- 637.5g/ 4¼ cups bread flour + 1/4 cup extra
- 2 tsp cinnamon powder
- 2 tsp All Spice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 1/2 cups / 210g sultanas
- 1 - 2 oranges, zest only
- 50g / 3.5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 egg, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup flour (any white flour)
- 5 tbsp water
- 1 tbsp apricot jam
- 2 tsp water
- Place the yeast and 2 teaspoons of the sugar in a large bowl, then pour in milk. Leave for 5 minutes until it froths.
- Add remaining Buns ingredients, starting with 4 1/4 cups flour, including remaining sugar.
- Use a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook to mix until a smooth elastic dough forms. Add extra flour if required.
- Alternatively, dust a work surface with flour and knead by hand for 10 minutes or until smooth.
- Leave dough in the bowl, cover with a wet (clean) tea towel and place in a warm place to rise until doubled in size. This will take anywhere between 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours.
- Line a 31.5 x 23.5 cm / 9 x 13" tray with baking paper with overhang.
- Remove tea towel and punch dough to deflate.
- Dust work surface with flour, place dough on work surface, knead lightly (to deflating air) and shape into a log. Cut into 12 equal pieces.
- Take one piece and press down with palm, then use your fingers to gather into a ball, then roll the dough briefly to form a ball. This stretches the dough on one side and that's how I get a nice smooth surface.
- Place the ball with the smooth side up on the tray. Repeat with remaining dough. Line them up 3 x 4.
Rise # 2:
- Spray a piece of cling wrap lightly with oil (any), then place over the tray.
- Return tray to warm place and leaver 30 - 45 minutes, until the dough has risen by about 75% (less than double in size).
- Partway through Rise #2, preheat oven to 180C/350F (all oven types).
- Mix flour and water until a runny paste forms.
- Spoon into a round 3 mm piping bag or small ziplock bag then snip corner.
- Remove the cling wrap and pipe crosses onto the buns. Go slow so it hugs the curves.
- Bake for 20 minutes (fan / convection) or 23 minutes (standard), or until the surface is a deep golden brown. The surface colour is the best test for this recipe.
- Meanwhile, place jam and water in a bowl, microwave for 30 seconds. Mix to combine.
- Remove buns from oven. Brush with jam mixture while warm.
- Use overhang to lift buns onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool to warm before serving.
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