As Easter fast approaches, I naturally felt the need to bake hot cross buns and I am so glad I did because these beauties are not only easy but so freaking tasty that you won’t be able to stop at just one.
I was inspired by a recipe from last year’s April Gourmet Traveller – ever since I saw this recipe I have been wanting to try it. Since I was too lazy to make my own hot cross buns last year, I decided enough was enough this year and spent Sunday morning in the kitchen.
For some reason, bread recipes scare me – really anything to do with dough scares me. I always find myself battling sticky fingers, resulting in a bench-top disaster which requires multiple attempts at scraping dough from the counter to the bin. But this recipe is unbelievably easy. The dough practically made itself – no sticking to the bench, no mess on my fingers, no mess anywhere….like I said, unbelievable.
While the original recipe called for sour cherries, I opted for dried cranberries and sultanas. That’s one of the things I really liked about this recipe, its adaptability. Depending on your personal taste you can add any dried fruit you like, I also considered doing anther batch with dried apricots and dates. Or, if you’ve got a particular sweet tooth there’s always the option of chocolate chips and nuts.
This was really a trial run for the Easter long weekend. You don’t want to unleash a tray full of bad buns on your family at Easter Sunday breakfast. Surely that would be a sin. But, I am happy to report that these won’t leave you needing to take a trip to confessional. Soft and a little chewy on the inside, with a slightly crunchy outer shell. I topped mine with butter, but I think next time I might have to buy a jar of Nutella….
65gm raw caster sugar
14gm (2 sachets) dried yeast
1½ tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
Finely grated rind of 1 orange and 1 lemon
845gm plain flour
100gm butter, coarsely chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ tsp sunflower oil
Spice glaze 50 gm caster sugar ½ tsp cinnamon
To serve butter or chocolate hazelnut spread
- Combine cranberries and sultanas, sugar, yeast, spices, rinds, 770gm flour and 1 tsp salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix on low speed to combine.
- Heat milk and butter in a small saucepan over low heat until butter melts, set aside to cool slightly, then add egg and whisk. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and knead until smooth and elastic (8-10 minutes; dough will be quite soft). Place in a lightly buttered bowl, cover and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (50 minutes to 1 hour).
- Knock back dough, divide into 18 even pieces, then roll each piece into a smooth ball. Arrange dough balls in concentric circles on a large baking tray lined with baking paper, leaving 1cm between each for dough to expand. Cover with a tea towel and stand in a warm place until doubled in size (30-40 minutes).
- Preheat oven to 220ºC. Combine remaining flour, sunflower oil and 60ml cold water in a bowl and stir to a smooth paste. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small plain nozzle and pipe a cross on each bun. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce oven to 200ºC and bake until buns are golden and sound hollow when tapped (8-10 minutes). Set aside to cool.
- For spice glaze, stir sugar, cinnamon and 50ml water in a small saucepan over medium heat to dissolve sugar, bring to the simmer, then set aside to cool. Brush glaze over buns and serve buns warm or at room temperature with butter or chocolate hazelnut spread. Hot cross buns are best eaten on the day of making.