Finally I decided to make hot cross buns. My, what an enormous faff! All sort of kneading and shaping, and then leaving to prove, or rise, for varying amounts of time. I love a hot cross bun but I’m not sure that I’d bother to cook them again! Not when M&S does such nice ones, anyway! Still, the end results were tasty, although I omitted the crosses on top. Not out of any religious, or anti-religious, feeling, but just because they’re boring, add nothing to the finished bun and, frankly, ’cause the whole recipe was long-winded enough as it was!
This recipe makes enough for 12 buns. I divided it by three in order to make enough dough for 4 buns, seeing as this was by way of an experiment. And even I can’t eat the best part of 12 hot cross buns before they go stale.
625g of strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of ground mixed spice
45g of unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
85g of sugar
Zest of 1 lemon
1½ teaspoon of fast-action yeast
275ml of tepid milk (isn’t ‘tepid’ such a horrible, limp, word. Yeuck!)
125g of mixed dried fruit (I added some glacé cherries, some cranberries and some sour cherries, as well as some larger raisins. Some of the fruit had been in the cupboard for a while, so I soaked it in a teaspoon of brandy and a teaspoon of ginger wine over night. Just remember to drain it before working it in to the dough, otherwise it’ll make the dough too moist)
1 tablespoon of golden syrup, for glazing
To start the buns, sieve the flour, salt and ground mixed spice into a large mixing bowl, then rub in the butter with your fingertips. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, then add the sugar and lemon zest and yeast.
Beat the egg and add to the flour with the tepid milk. Mix together to a form a soft, pliable dough.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Carefully work the mixed dried fruit into the dough until well combined. Knead lightly for 5 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
Grease a large, warm mixing bowl with butter. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the bowl, then cover with a clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for one hour to prove.
Turn out the proved dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knock back the dough. Shape it into a ball again and return it to the bowl, then cover again with the tea towel and set aside for a further 30 minutes to rise.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten slightly into a bun shape using the palms of your hands. Cover the buns again with the tea towel and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes.
Grease a baking tray with butter and transfer the buns to the tray. Wrap the tray with the buns on it loosely in greaseproof paper, then place inside a large polythene bag. Tie the end of the bag tightly so that no air can get in and set aside in a warm place for a further 40 minutes to rise.
Preheat the oven to 240C
When the buns have risen, remove the polythene bag and the greaseproof paper.
Pop the buns to the oven and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. As soon as you remove the buns from the oven, brush them with the golden syrup, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.
They were very tasty and the added fruits made for an interesting change, but they’re not something that you can quickly knock up in the kitchen. They require a lot of faffage and a lot of patience. Tasty though!