Monday, 25 March 2013

Hot cross buns

As Easter is coming it is time for one thing. No not chocolate, something far better than your average Easter egg. HOT CROSS BUNS!

Hot cross buns are truly wonderful things. Warm with plenty of butter and the promise of spicy, fruity yumminess they turn me into a Victorian ragamuffin with my nose pressed to the bakers window.....or possibly Paddington bear. (Though they would have to be marmalade buns. Idea growing in back of head.) Either way I take the business of buns far too seriously. As it was Palm Sunday yesterday I thought I ought to get some practice in for Good Friday.

625g strong white flour
3 teaspoons ground mixed spice (I usually go for a wobbly hand with the spices!)
45g butter
85g sugar
Zest of 1 lemon or orange (This part is optional so if you can't be bothered to go out because it's cold don't worry about it.)
1½ teaspoons fast-action yeast
1 egg
275ml milk
200g mixed dried fruit (This is more than the average recipe because I love dried fruit so adjust to your taste)
Pinch of salt
For the topping
2 tablespoons sugar

1. Sieve the flour, salt and spices into a bowl and mix thoroughly before adding the butter. I used my lovely Kenwood Chef with the dough hook for about 30 seconds but if you don't have a mixer then rub the butter in with your fingers.
2. Add the sugar, zest and yeast and mix in.
3. Warm the milk till it is tepid (imagine you are giving it to a small child) and beat the egg.
4. Make a well in the centre of the flour mix and add the milk and egg. Mix together to create a dough. (low setting for a machine)
5. If you are doing this by hand you need to knead it on a floured surface for about 5 minutes while adding the dried fruit. If you are using the machine to do your work for you turn it up very high for 3 minutes before hand kneading the dough in. 
Top Tip: Don't be tempted to add the fruit to the machine earlier. The power with which it pummels the dough will batter the fruit into tiny bits.
6. Make a ball out of the dough and place in a large greased bowl. Cover with cling film or a towel and leave in a warm place for about an hour or until it is twice the size.
7. Knead the dough again for a few minutes before dividing into equal pieces. I like big buns (snigger!) and go for a weight of around 150g which is 8 buns for this recipe. Make nice round buns and cut a deep cross into the dough. Place on a greased baking tray and cover with cling film to rise again for 30 minutes.
Top Tip: I am very puritanical and like the ultra traditional cut cross. If you want one that is a bit more defined make a paste with flour and water and pipe the cross on.
8. Put in the oven 240C for 15-20 minutes. (This varies according to the size of the buns.) They are ready when golden brown and sound hollow when you tap their bases.
9. While the buns are cooking put the sugar in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover it. Heat the mix to dissolve the sugar and create a  sugary syrup that is slightly thick but can still be brushed on with a pastry brush.
10. When the buns are ready put them to cool on a wire tray and brush the sugar syrup over the top.

Enjoy while still warm with plenty of butter and a nice cuppa. I went a bit mad and had posh hot chocolate as well.

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