So last weekend was a weekend of firsts for me: first time wearing glasses, first time baking a Bundt and first time baking hot cross buns. I have never considered making hot cross buns before but I have seen some amazing homemade buns on Twitter and I just had to give it a go.
As it was my first time making hot cross buns, I wanted to make a traditional recipe. I had some saffron in the cupboard I wanted to use and found this lovely recipe on Delicious Magazine.
Note to bakers. This isn’t a quick ‘ Oh I will whip up a batch of hot cross buns for this afternoon’ recipe. More of a ‘ I want to spend my whole day making some fresh hot cross buns that will make my house smell divine’ recipe.
Now I don’t want to boast too much but my mum said that they were the best hot cross buns she had EVER tasted and Tim ate three fresh out the oven. I think this is a great Easter recipe and more than anything it has taught me to keep trying new things and not be scared by working with ingredients I am not used to. I am already excited to make my next batch, I think these hot cross buns are going to be eaten all year round in my house.
- 300 ml whole milk
- A good pinch saffron threads
- 100 g cold unsalted butter cubed
- 50 g clear honey
- 2 medium free-range eggs plus 1 extra egg, beaten with a pinch of salt
- 150 ml warm water
- 7 g sachet fast- action yeast
- 3 tsp vanilla extract
- 150 g dried apricots chopped
- 175 g sultanas
- 175 g currants
- 200 g chopped mixed peel
- 3 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 2 tsp fine sea salt
- 800 g strong white flour plus extra for dusting
- Vegetable oil for greasing and kneading optional
- 150 g strong white flour
- Juice ½ lemon
- 150-200 ml water
- 50 g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp clear honey
- ½ tsp ground mixed spice
- 75 ml orange juice
Bring the milk to the boil in a saucepan, then add the saffron. Put the cold cubed butter and 50g honey in a large mixing bowl, pour over the saffron milk and leave for 5 minutes or until the butter melts. This needs to be in the biggest bowl you have at home (as everything eventually goes in this bowl).
Add the 2 eggs, warm water, yeast, and vanilla extracts. Whisk to combine. Stir in the dried fruit then the mixed spice, cornflour and salt. Add the 800g flour, then mix together with your hands to form a soft, sticky dough. If the dough feels firm, add a splash more water. Cover the bowl with lightly oiled cling film, then set aside for 10 minutes.This is the first of 3 proves.
After 10 minutes, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and give it a quick 30 second knead and then returned to the bowl with cling film. Prove for a further 90 minutes. After 45 minutes, give the dough another 30 second knead and shape. Return to the bowl to prove for the last 45 minutes.
Prepare two baking sheets with baking paper.
The original Delicious recipe says to diving the dough into 12 however my dough was huge and therefore I divided it into 19; 12 in a traditional 3x4 and then I made a ring of buns as well. I went a little bit GBBO and weighed each bun so they were approximately the same, 120g.
Knead and shaped each bun and then placed on the baking tray so they are close together but not yet touching, they will grow and touch on the third and final prove. Cover again with oiled cling film and prove for a final 40 minutes.
When the buns are almost ready, heat the oven to 180 degrees C. For the crosses, beat the ingredients in a mixing bowl to make a thick but pipeable batter. Leave for 10 minutes, then spoon into a piping bag and set aside.
You want your buns to double in size before adding the crosses. Brush the risen buns with the beaten egg and salt mixture, then pipe crosses over the top. I am not an experienced piper, I get very jealous of other people’s cupcakes which are piped to perfection so I was a little worried about this however I did give it a go and in looked ok. Instead of crossing each and every bun its easier and neater to do one long line across all the buns making sure you dip into the edges so the cross cover the whole top of each bun. I baked for less that the original recipe said, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the spiced glaze ingredients in a pan and boil to a thick syrup. Remove the buns from the oven, then brush with the glaze while hot. Cool on wire racks.
TIP: I prove my dough in a switched off oven that has been heated to no more than 50°C. It will still be warm but not too hot that it kills the yeast. I covered the bowl with an oiled piece of cling film and then a clean tea towel.
TIP: When piping on the crosses, push the end of the piping bag into a pint glass. Any bag that is hanging out of the glass can be folder around the glass. This makes it easy to spoon the mixture into the bag and is a place to temporally hold you piping bag when not in use.