Sugar and spice and all things nice – Hot Cross Buns

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During Easter who doesn’t love the spicy aroma of freshly baked hot crossed buns.  I much prefer to make my own and yes I know it is a bit of work, but so worth the effort. The difference in taste to commercially bought is miles apart, also much more rewarding and I know exactly what goes into them!  I have been making this particular Paul Hollywood recipe for a few years now and find it works beautifully when I don’t take my eye off the ball!

This recipe is from one of his older books ‘How to Bake’.  I have tried many recipes from the book, although mostly bread with good results.  If your into making bread or pastry I would definitely recommend purchasing  this book.

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These hot cross buns are packed with flavour and the addition of Apple gives a nice moist texture.  I have swapped one of the teaspoons of cinnamon with mixed spice, as I like the combination of spices.  I also reduced the sugar from 75g to 60g as I personally found them too sweet.  You can choose whatever suits your own personal taste. I also found I had extra mixture left when making the crosses, so I have reduced the overall quanties.

Hot Cross Buns

500g strong white flour, extra for dusting

10g salt

60g caster sugar

10g instant yeast

40g unsalted butter, softened

2 medium eggs, beaten

120ml warm full-fat milk

120ml cool water

150g sultanas

80g chopped mixed peel

Finely grated zest of 2 Oranges

1 desert Apple, cored and diced

2 tsp ground cinnamon

For the crosses

75g plain flour

75ml water

For the glaze

75g apricot jam

 

Method

Put the flour into a large mixing bowl.  Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other.

Add the butter, eggs, warm milk and half the water, mixing to combine.  Continue to add more water, a little at a time until you have picked up all the flour from the sides. However you may not need much more water – you want dough that is soft, not soggy.

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and begin to knead for 5-10 minutes until  smooth and silky.  Put into a lightly oiled large bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rise until at least has doubled in size – at least an hour, but it’s fine to leave for 2-3 hours.

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Tip the dough on to a lightly floured surface and scatter the sultanas, mixed peel, chopped apple, orange zest and cinnamon and mixed spice if using on top.  I have added the spices to the flour at the beginning as it is easier to combine. Knead until everything is incorporated.  Cover and leave to rise for a further hour.

Fold the dough inwards until all the air is knocked out. Divide the dough into 12 even pieces, and roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured surface.  Arrange the buns on a baking tray lined with parchment, leaving enough space so that the buns just touch when they rise and expand.  Cover trays and set aside to prove for another hour. Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7.

For the crosses mix the flour with the water in small bowl to a thick paste.  I reduced the quantities of paste to 50g flour and 50ml water as this was sufficient paste for the crosses.  Spoon into a piping bag with a small nozzle.  Pipe a line along each row of buns, then repeat in the other direction to create crosses.

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Bake for 20 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, or until golden-brown.  As my oven is very hot I checked the buns after 16 minutes and baked at a lower temperature. Adjust your oven and times accordingly.
Gently heat the apricot jam with a splash of water, sieve and brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.  Gently rip the buns apart to serve, revealing temptingly soft edges.

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So have a go at these delicious hot cross buns and watch them disappear!  Happy Easter baking and enjoy.

Mairead x

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