Food I cook for my family, baking recipes, cookbook reviews, and your cooking questions answered
Hot Cross Buns
These are straight out of the oven. If you need an excuse to eat these, Easter happily provides it. The boys are converts, from “they are okay” to devouring at least a few buns straight out of the oven, there are a few people that I know of that can honestly say they don’t like the taste of hot cross buns. I like them pillow soft and light, eaten both fresh and toasted. I do hope you will be inspired to make them, as they are really worth the effort.
A word about the ingredients:
I have seen recipes calling from cardamom and saffron to cloves and ginger. I have my own favourite mix, which I have put in the recipe below, but feel free to substitute if you don’t like a particular spice. I find most commercial buns are overloaded with cinnamon, and the flavour of the spice mixes too strong.
Due to the added richness of butter and sugar, I think strong bread flour/high protein flour works the best and yields the puffiest buns.
Several recipes call for milk, which does add sweetness, but somehow seems to make the buns more dense and close textured. I stick with water.
Raisins and currants are traditional. Candied citrus peel seems to less common, and some recipes omit this and use added orange zest to get a citrusy aroma. I like candied citrus peel, so I use it, but any mix works as long as you follow the total weight guidelines. Don’t worry about the alcohol in the rum, it’s unnoticeable after baking, and just adds a festive aroma to the finished buns.
Hot Cross Buns
These buns are actually not that difficult to make but do need a fair bit of ingredients, especially for the spice mix. This mix is crucial and there are so many variations (see note above). The crosses are purely decorative and don’t add anything to the taste, so you can omit them, but then the end product won’t look like Hot Cross Buns! The buns freeze really well. Just halve them and then freeze in airtight freezer bags. Toast from frozen for the perfect afternoon treat with a cuppa tea.
zest1orangeoptional, but adds a lovely fragrance to the finished buns
Make the fruit soaker a day in advance. Place all the fruit and rum in a bowl and toss to mix. Cover and leave on the kitchen counter overnight.
The next day, make the spice mix by combining all the ingredients and mixing together well.
To make the dough, measure out the liquid ingredients into the bowl of a standing mixer. Then measure out all the dry ingredients, the butter and add the spice mix. If you don’t have a stand mixer, see note below to mix by hand.
Mix on a low speed to combine the ingredients and then increase to a medium speed. After a few minutes the dough should start pulling away from the sides of the bowl. The dough will be sticky and won’t pull away completely but it should clear the sides. If it isn’t, sprinkle a little flour, but be vary of adding too much as it will make the buns tough.
The dough should pass the “window pane test” (see note below) Add prepared fruit and continue to knead on the lowest speed until just incorporated into the dough. Transfer the dough to a floured counter and do a few folds to fully incorporate the fruit.
Lightly oil a bowl or a plastic container with a lid, large enough to allow dough to double in bulk. Put dough in the container and cover with a lid, shower cap or cling wrap. Leave in a warmish place (about 23-24C) for 1 hour.
Place the dough on the counter and gently “knock back”. Acting as if the dough has four corners, stretch and pull each corner and bring it back to the middle of the dough. Then flip the ball of dough over and place again in the oiled bowl, cover and leave for 30 minutes until it’s well risen (about double).
Line a baking tray with baking paper. Transfer the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. To divide the dough, flatten it into a circle, and then cut it into equal wedges.
For large buns divide into 12 pieces of about 110-115g each and for smaller ones, divide into 16 equal pieces, approximately 85-90g each. I like to use a kitchen scale it’s easiest to get even sized buns.
Once divided form a loose balls by tucking in the corners and leave on the counter, covered with a tea towel for about 5 minutes.
For final shaping, see video at the top. Take 1 ball of dough at a time, flip it over using a dough scraper and then fold in all the edges into the middle. Turn over so the scrunched side is on the counter. Cup your palm over the dough and move your hand in a small circular motion, feeling the ball of dough grip the work surface. Continue until the ball is round and has a smooth outer surface. It doesn't take long. The idea is to make the surface of the roll taut, like the skin of a balloon.
Place seam-side down on the prepared baking tray approximately 1” apart. After proofing they should touch each other. Lay them in a 3x4 or 4x4 grid depending on size. Try to tuck in any visible raisins etc. If they are left on the surface, they tend to burn in the oven.
Place tray inside a large plastic bag and leave to prove in a warm place for 45 minutes to 1 hour, until buns have almost doubled in size. This bit is really important. If you under-proof the buns, the result won’t be anywhere as good. If need be extend proof time. Towards the end of the proof time, preheat the oven to 190C (not fan).
Make the cross mixture by placing flour and oil in a small bowl. Whisk in the water to form a smooth batter. Put batter into a disposable piping bag or a regular zip lock bag and snip off one corner to allow the mix to be piped out.
Pipe crosses onto the buns. You can do this is in continuous lines so to go across a whole line of buns.
Place buns in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes for the large one and about 25 minutes for the small ones. They should be a deep golden brown.
Whilst the buns are baking, prepare the sugar glaze but heating the sugar, water and zest if using, until the sugar is dissolved.
Remove buns from oven and brush with sugar glaze. Allow to cool slightly before cutting in half and eating with the best butter you can get your hands on.http://www.loveandcook.co.uk/wp-admin/post.php?post=2933&action=edit#
To knead by hand:
Measure out all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Add the spice mix. Use a spoon or to stir and combine the ingredients to form a dough mass. Tip dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead (following a slap and fold method) for 10–15 minutes, resting for 1 minute or so every 2–3 minutes, until dough is smooth and elastic. This will take a while; the dough will be sticky to the touch at first, but don’t be to add excessive amounts of flour during the kneading process. Add prepared fruit and continue to knead very gently until incorporated into the dough.
See videos under the “Versatile multigrain” to see the slap and fold technique, and the window pane test.