Making hot cross buns at home

I love hot cross buns – the sweet spicy aroma, the sharp tang of citrus peel, the melting butter – deliciousness on a plate. However, this is the first year that I have made my own. I used a recipe based on my very reliable Merle’s Country Show Baking.

Merle's Country Show BakingIngredients

1 ¼ cups of milk
2 teaspoons of dried yeast
Pinch of sugar
3 ½ cups of plain flour
3 teaspoons of mixed spice
2 teaspoons of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
½ cup of currants
1/4 cup sultanas
¼ cup of mixed peel
60 grams of butter
1 egg
For the cross
¼ cup of plain flour
2 tablespoons of water
For the glaze
¼ cup caster sugar
2 tablespoons of water

Preparing the wet ingredients

Warm the milk a little and add to the yeast and pinch of sugar. Leave in a warm place for five minutes, until there are foamy bubbles on the top. Melt the butter in a pan and leave to cool. Lightly beat the egg in a small bowl.

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Preparing the dry ingredients

Sift the flour, mixed spice and cinnamon into a large mixing bowl. Add the currents and mixed peel. Mix gently and make a well in the middle.

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Mixing time

When the yeast has bubbled, pour into the dry ingredients. Add the cooled, melted butter and the lightly beaten egg. You can mix together by hand or machine. If mixing by hand, then knead for five minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. If mixing by machine, keep an eye on it as this happens a lot faster.

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Rising time

Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean tea towel and put in a warm place to rise. Leave for at least an hour, or until doubled in size. Put the oven on at 190 degrees.

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Dividing portions

Take the dough out of the bowl and knead lightly for a minute or so. Divide the mix into twelve equal portions.

I used the kitchen scales to help – about 100 grams for each bun from my mix.

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Rising again

Put the buns on a baking tray which has a sheet of baking paper on it. Allow only about 1 cm between them so that they will join up. Cover in a clean tea towel and allow to rise for a further 15 minutes in a warm place.

Adding the crosses

Combine the flour and water for the cross to make a soft paste. Put the paste into a small plastic bag and work the paste into one corner. Then snip a small tip off the corner. Pipe across the row of buns, first in one direction, then swivel the tray and pipe in the other direction to make crosses.

I recommend practicing piping on the counter first. My initial lines were very fat because my paste was too stiff and the hole was too big. I made a second batch, with a touch more water. This was softer and easier to pipe.

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Baking time

Put the buns into the oven to bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

My tray cooked unevenly – the buns in the middle row were still pale while those on the outside were golden brown. I removed the cooked ones and put the others back for 5 minutes more.

Glazing

Combine the water and sugar in a small pan on the stove top. Heat slowly until the sugar dissolves. Allow the water and sugar to become syrupy. When the buns come out of the oven brush with the glaze.

Eating

Allow to cool slightly. Then cut the buns in half and smear with butter. Take a delicious bite of your hard work!

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