Not a lot beats warmed hot cross buns with lashings of butter at Easter. I started this ‘tradition’ a few years ago and now feel that because it is a ‘tradition’ I need to make them every year. It’s a burden I have created for myself, I know, but one I’m happy to bear 🙂
Now, Im NOT an expert at baking to be sure, but I try, and these buns mostly work really well for me. My problem is I like to experiment – so I go off piste and add and subtract and sometimes the results are a little flat. Always delicious though – and they always get eaten. As this is a ‘tradition’, I want it to be fun.
A warm room/kitchen is key. Yeast loves the warmth and will take a while to ‘wake up’ if its cold.
Makes around 15 buns, and takes over 2 hours while you wait for the dough to rise (twice). This is where your multi-tasking skills will come in handy.
- 1 sachet dried yeast (= 7g or 2 teaspoons)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 4 cups plain flour
- 1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp mixed spice
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 50g butter (room temperature, chopped)
- 1/2 cup sultanas (see note at the end about variations)
GLAZE AND CROSSES
- 1/2 cup plain flour
- 1/3 cup water
- 2 tbsp white sugar
- 1 tbsp hot water
- 1 tsp gelatine or half a leaf (or substitute)
- Line an18x28cm slice tray with baking paper and lightly grease (spray with oil).
- The milk needs to be lukewarm – not really hot – the warmth wakes up the yeast, but if it is too hot it will kill it.
- Dissolve the sugar into the lukewarm milk, then add the yeast. Mix and leave to stand for about 10 minutes. It should froth up (bubble, bubble…)
- Place the flour, salt and spices in a very large mixing bowl.
- Rub in the butter with your fingers
- Add the sultanas (or your other variations) and mix through
- Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients then and yeast and milk mixture
- Start mixing in the flour from the outer edges into the middle, then using your hand mix everything together thoroughly, kneading lightly as you go
- Place dough in lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and a clean tea towel and stand in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes or until dough doubles in bulk
- Punch the dough down, then turn out onto floured surface and knead well until it is smooth smooth and elastic
- Preheat oven to 210C
- Cut into 3 equal pieces then cut each piece into 5, making 15 buns in all. Knead each into a round shape.
- Place the buns in the baking tray and stand in warm place for another 10 to 15 minutes or until they rise another 1/3 of their size.
MAKE THE CROSSES, BAKE THEN GLAZE
- Make paste by mixing 1/2 cup plain flour and 1/3 cup water
- Fill a piping bag with the flour mixture (or a small sandwich bag with the corner cut about 2 mm)
- Pipe a cross on each bun
- Bake 15 minutes
- While the buns are baking, make the glaze from heating the sugar, hot water and gelatine in a saucepan and simmering for 1 minute
- Remove the buns from the oven and immediately brush with the glaze
- Eat warm with butter!
So, the variations I have made over the years include: dried cranberries and white chocolate, dried apricot and almonds, cherries and chocolate chips (see below).