Last year I made my first batch of hot cross buns. It was a relatively significant recipe, because it was then that I decided to start this public blog, honey and spice. The resulting buns were pretty good, and I asked J if he wanted any this year for Easter. He said “yes, if you don’t mind making them”. I rarely mind making things in the kitchen.
This year, hot cross buns 2011 are back – they are bigger and better than ever! I’ve even included alternatives if you’re dairy-free, egg-free or vegan.
I know hot cross buns are traditionally enjoyed the Friday before Easter, i.e. Good Friday, but I was way too busy to make them then. I decided to start off the dough at 11:30 pm on Saturday evening, for them to be baked on Easter Sunday. The original recipe was very long winded, so I’ve tidied it up a bit and added a few different tweaks. The resulting buns are wonderful, and far easier to make than the original recipe. I allow an overnight cold prove, so in the morning, simply take out the dough, shape the buns, and let them sit at room temperature for 2 hours before baking.
HOT CROSS BUNS – REVISITED
Adapted from “Baker & Spice – Baking with Passion”, by Dan Lepard and Richard Whittington
For the buns
- ½ tablespoon dried active baking yeast
- 215 ml (¾ c and 2 ⅓ tablespoons) filtered lukewarm water
- 435 g (2 ¾ c and 2 ½ tablespoons) bread flour* (or plain (all-purpose) flour)
- 1 ½ tablespoons no-fat milk powder or dried soy milk powder
- 50 g (¼ c) unrefined cane (turbinado) sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 40 g (2 ⅔ tablespoons) softened unsalted butter or vegan and dairy-free buttery spreads, such as Earth Balance
- 1 egg^, beaten, or 1 tablespoon ground/milled linseed (flaxseed meal) mixed with 3 tablespoons water until frothy
- 20 g (2 ⅔ tablespoons) apple pie spice or a mixture of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves to taste
- 50 g (⅓ c) raisins
- 35 g (¼ c) diced, dried, unsulfured apricots
- 35 g (¼ c ) diced mixed or candied peel
For the piping paste
- 50 g (¼ c) plain (all-purpose) flour
- 3-4 tablespoons water
- ½ tablespoon unrefined cane (turbinado) sugar
- 1-2 tablespoons milk or milk alternative
For the glaze
- 1 tablespoons honey or golden syrup or brown rice syrup, mixed with just enough hot water to make a brushable glaze
* Bread flour is not essential, but it does give the buns a wonderful springy texture. You can make your own bread flour, by mixing 150 g (1 c) plain (all-purpose) flour with 1 tablespoon vital wheat gluten.
1. In the bowl of a large stand mixer, stir together yeast and water. Let sit for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, soak raisins, apricots and mixed/candied peel in 1 ½ tablespoons hot water; set aside.
2. To the stand mixer bowl, add bread flour, milk powder, sugar, salt, butter, egg and apple pie spice.
3. With the dough hook attachment, mix the ingredients until a dough forms. Let the machine knead the dough on medium-high speed for 10-15 minutes, or until the dough is smooth and elastic, but still a little tacky.
4. Knead in the soaked fruit and peel, together with the soaking water. The dough will be quite sticky at this point. Continue to process until the fruit is fully incorporated and the dough is tacky, but not wet. Add more flour as necessary, but cautiously. The wetter the dough, the softer the buns will be.
5. Cover the bowl with cling film (plastic wrap) and pop into the refrigerator overnight for a cold prove. (Alternatively, you can do a warm prove; simply place in a warm spot for about 1-1 ½ hours, or until double in size. If you choose to do this – shape the buns, as in step 6, but only prove them for 1 hour for step 7.)
6. First thing in the morning, take the dough out, punch dough lightly and divide into 12 equal sized portions (use a set of kitchen scales). Shape each into a neat ball, and place onto a parchment lined baking tray (sheet/pan), pressing lightly to form a flattened ball of dough of 6.25 cm (2 ½ inch) in diameter. Leave about 2.5 cm (1 inch) space apart if you don’t want the buns to form as pull-apart-buns. If you do want pull-apart-buns, simply put them slightly closer together.
7. Cover the buns with a damp tea (kitchen) towel and sit in a warm spot for 2 hours or until puffy.
8. Thirty minutes before baking, preheat oven to 260°C (500°F).
9. Make the piping pastry. Combine flour, sugar and water until a smooth paste is obtained. Try not to make the same mistake as I did by thinning this paste any further. It will result in the paste spreading as it cooks, leaving an undefined cross on the buns. Place into a small plastic freezer (ziplock) bag, squeeze out all of the air and snip the smallest hole (around 2mm or 1/10 inch) you can into the corner of the bag.
10. When the buns have finished their second rise, use a blunt knife or a skewer to indent each bun with a cross. Brush all over with milk and then pipe a paste cross in the indentations.
11. Place the buns into the oven, turning down the temperature to 180°C (350°F) as soon as you shut the door. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the buns half way to ensure even browning. The buns are done when they are golden and slightly browning on the outside edges, they will also sound hollow when tapped on the base.
12. Liberally brush the buns with the glaze as soon as they come out of the oven. Allow the buns to cool a little before enjoying.