Hot cross buns are a great staple in everyone’s household in England at Easter time. *(They are not called ‘hot crossed’ but specifically ‘hot cross’ buns). If you have not heard of ‘hot cross buns’ before, they are essentially sweet, spiced buns which are traditionally eaten in England on Good Friday at Easter time. Currants, sultanas or raisins are included within them, and there are many variations on this. Traditionally, they have a cross on the top and this is symbolic. The cross in the center has religious meaning for Christians and in layman’s terms, it is connected with ancient offerings of bread.
This quick and easy hot cross buns recipe requires a few more ingredients than the usual bake, but the delicious taste is certainly worth it. Often, they are only made at this time of year. It is a great excuse to get baking them and to experiment more in the kitchen. This is especially true if you have not done much baking or cooking before. Let us now look at the ingredients you will need to make twelve tasty hot cross buns.
- 300g strong white bread flour
- 80g sultanas or mixed dried fruit (such as raisins)
- 60g caster sugar
- 30g butter, softened and cubed
- 7g dried yeast
- 175ml semi-skimmed milk
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 lemon, grated zest only (optional)
For the Bun Cross
- 1 tablespoon plain flour
- 2 tablespoons water
In a medium sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, butter, mixed spice and the salt together. Use a wooden spoon or your hands to fully combine the ingredients, until they resemble a texture which is similar to bread crumbs. Alternatively, you could combine all these ingredients in a food processor if you have one available, but either method will achieve good results.
Next, add the sugar, lemon zest and yeast to the mixture and combine everything together thoroughly. You will notice that the fresh lemony smell helps to bring the buns to life.
Make a small well in the middle of your mixture in the bowl. Next, gently heat the milk up in a medium sized saucepan on a low heat. You do not want the milk to be too hot, so taste it if needed to check it is mildly warm in temperature. Alternatively, put the milk in a microwave at a medium heat for a few minutes. Next, add the milk and the egg to the mixture in the center of the well in the dough. This will turn the dough wet, so use either a wooden spoon or your hands to combine the ingredients together again.
If the dough seems a bit hard to work with, then adding a little extra milk could help make it easier to knead. Once you have kneaded the dough for approximately five minutes, return it to the mixing bowl. Cover it with cling film and allow it to proof (or rise) for around one hour. Set a kitchen timer to help remind you to return to it after this length of time.
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After one hour has passed, knead the dough again for roughly five minutes. However, this time you should incorporate the sultanas or dried fruit to the dough as well. Allow this to then proof for a second time by returning it to the bowl and covering it again with the cling film. Leave it for up to one hour again, setting a timer if needed.
Lightly grease two baking trays with some butter. Alternatively, use some grease proof paper and cut this to the correct size to fit your trays. You can now separate the dough into twelve small round circles and place these onto the trays. Allow them to proof on their own for around thirty minutes before you bake them in the oven. You may be tempted to simply bake them immediately, but the rise you will observe and the fluffiness in the texture is definitely worth the wait. Remember that they will expand as they proof and again as they bake, so try to space them out across both trays allowing room for this.
Preheat the oven to 220C/Gas Mark 7. The last step is to add the traditional white crosses to your hot cross buns. To do this, mix the one tablespoon of plain flour with two small tablespoons of water, and combine them together in a small cup or bowl. You could pipe the mixture on, but I find that simply spreading it with a spoon gives a more rustic touch to the appearance of the buns. Bake them for fifteen minutes until they are golden looking on top. Allow them to cool on a wire rack, or serve immediately with hot melting butter and/or your choice of fruit preserves.
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If you wish to glaze the buns then use some golden syrup or even honey for a real change of flavor. Spread the syrup of your choosing over them with a pastry brush. If you do choose to use syrup, then try to spread this on the buns immediately when they come out of the oven. This is because the hotter temperature will help spread the syrup around and give a more even consistency and coverage.
A great Easter treat, these buns are filling as well as delicious in taste. It is always wonderful to bake for family and friends at any time of the year. However, during Easter, why not give this recipe a go and impress everyone you know with this tasty Easter themed treat.
Below is a great video from YouTube baker Laura Vitale from her channel ‘Laura in the Kitchen’. This video gives a useful visual aid to baking these delicious Easter buns, and also offers you alternative ingredients for making the cross in the center of the buns.