Hot Cross Buns

I’ve never been a huge hot cross bun fan. I don’t dislike them at all, but I don’t ever find myself thinking: “You know what I could really go for right now? A hot cross bun!” Regardless, I enjoy them well enough, and I eat them every year when Easter rolls around. However, after making these, my flippant attitude towards these under appreciated buns has changed forever.

These buns slowly filled my kitchen with a warm, spiced aroma as they baked. I was actually salivating as I opened the oven door. As soon as they were cool enough to handle, I cut one open, slathered it with butter and took my first bite. In that moment, I no longer liked hot cross buns – I loved them.

I legitimately closed my eyes and did a little happy dance around my kitchen as I took another bite. I had to restrain myself from eating another one. Instead, I packaged them up, ready to bring with me the next day as we ventured off to visit family for the weekend on Vancouver Island.

The delivery process was painful. The entire ferry ride over I had to keep repeating to myself: “Don’t eat the buns…Don’t eat the buns…Don’t eat the buns…”

Then there was the 40 minute car ride after we got off the ferry.

“Don’t eat the buns…Don’t eat the buns…”.

Finally we arrived at my mum’s house, where I didn’t even bother taking off my shoes before loudly announcing: “WE NEED TO EAT THE BUNS!!”

And so we did. And it was the greatest thing ever.

Now, onto the recipe! This is the lovely Mary Berry’s hot cross bun recipe, which I pulled off the BBC website. All the ingredients are listed out by weight, which any seasoned baker will tell you is the proper way to measure. However, I know many people who do not own scales. Well folks, now is the time for you to go out and invest in some, because these buns deserve to be baked!

This recipe calls for mixed spice, which I’ve never used before. I didn’t have any on hand so I did a quick search and found a recipe on Daring Gourmet to mix up my own. It includes a combination of cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, coriander and mace.

mix of spices in a bowl

You start by whisking together flour, sugar, cinnamon, mixed spice and lemon zest in a large bowl.

dry ingredients together in bowl

Then place some salt on one side of the bowl, and some instant yeast on the other. (Fun fact…salt can slow yeast growth, and in large concentrations even kill it! Hence giving them their own space in the bowl.)

adding yeast and salt to opposite sides of bowl

Next, you need some melted butter and some warm milk. Add the melted butter, half the milk, and a lightly beaten egg to the dry ingredients. Give it a stir until the mixture starts to come together.

hot cross bun dough with half the milk stirred in

Gradually add the remaining milk until the dough is soft and pliable. This is where I didn’t read the recipe properly the first time. It specifically says to add the milk gradually, and that you might not need it all in order to get the consistency you’re looking for. I just dumped all the milk in at once. I ended up with a very sticky dough, which was maybe a little wetter than it should have been, but the buns still turned out really well!

hot cross bun dough mixed up in a bowl

Once your dough is mixed together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface (I had to heavily flour mine due to the overly sticky dough). Knead by hand for about 10 minutes, incorporating sultanas and mixed peel as you go. Your dough should form a smooth ball, with a silky and elastic texture when it’s done.

The recipe says you can also use a mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment instead of kneading by hand. I did try this, but found that the sultanas and peel all sunk to the bottom, instead of getting distributed evenly throughout, so I still had to knead it by hand to get all the fruit incorporated.

sultanas and mixed peel on top of hot cross bun dough

Next, place the ball of dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap and let the bowl sit in a warm place until the dough has roughly doubled in size (about an hour and a half).

before and after photo of dough in a bowl after being left to rise for an hour

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 balls. I weighed the whole lump of dough, divided the weight by 12, and then weighed each ball of dough to make sure I got them as even as possible.

Place the dough balls on a parchment lined tray (I used a 9 x 12 baking dish), cover with plastic wrap again, and leave for another 40-60 minutes until they have about doubled in size.

before and after photo of dough balls after being left to rise

To make the dough cross, mix together some flour and water to form a paste. Pipe the dough paste into a cross shape on the top of the bun before placing in the oven.

piping a cross on top of the risen dough buns

Bake at 425°F for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

hot cross buns fresh from the oven

The recipe says to brush the tops of the buns with some golden syrup while they are still warm from the oven. Golden syrup isn’t something I typically have on hand, so I warmed up some marmalade and brushed a thin coat of that on top instead. It definitely makes a difference giving them a little glaze of some sort. The buns become so nice and shiny!

tops of hot cross buns brushed with glaze

I’d say the buns are best eaten warm…with butter…and a cup of tea. It’s probably best to invite some company over to share them with as well so you don’t end up eating a dozen all by yourself in a single sitting.

hot cross buns cooling on a wire rack


 

Hot Cross Buns

Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Rise Time2 hrs 30 mins
Total Time3 hrs
Servings: 12

Ingredients

  • 500 g flour
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 10 g salt
  • 10 g fast-action dried yeast
  • 40 g butter (melted)
  • 300 ml butter (warmed)
  • 1 egg (lightly beaten)
  • 200 g sultanas
  • 50 g mixed candied peel (finely chopped)

For the Topping

  • 75 g flour
  • 100 ml water
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup, marmalade, or apricot jam (for glazing)

Instructions

  • Whisk together flour, sugar, spices and lemon zest in a large bowl.
  • Add the salt and yeast to the bowl, placing them on opposite sides.
  • Add the melted butter and half the warmed milk to the dry ingredients. Stir until a dough starts to form.
  • Gradually add the remaining milk, stirring until a soft, pliable dough forms. You may not need to add all of the milk.
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Begin kneading the dough, incorporating the sultanas and mixed peel as you go. Keep kneading until the dough forms a smooth, silky, and elastic ball (about 10 minutes).
  • Place the ball of dough in a lightly greased bowl. Cover the bowl with a piece of plastic wrap and leave in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (about 1 1/2 hours).
  • Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 12 equal sized balls. Place on a parchment lined baking tray about 1 1/2 inches apart.
  • Cover with plastic wrap again and leave for another 40-60 minutes until the dough balls have doubled in size.
  • Pre-heat your oven to 425°F and then start on the topping. Mix together the flour and water to form a paste. Transfer the paste to a small piping bag and pipe a cross onto the top of each bun.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
  • While the buns are still warm from the oven, brush with some melted golden syrup, marmalade or apricot jam, to give the buns a shiny finish. Transfer the buns to a wire rack to cool completely.

Notes

Bun Recipe Source: Merry Berry's Hot Cross Buns (BBC)
Mixed Spice Recipe: Daring Gourmet 

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