It's that time of year when the hot cross bun makes it's appearance and don't we wish it was all year round?! They are just so damn delicious, all warm and toasted topped with butter and jam (if that's your sort of thing).
This year I was tasked with making 1700 of them for an event of which I can't disclose, but I tell you, after making so many I would consider myself somewhat of an expert. Last year I developed my own recipe after much practice. This year, I've changed it again slightly, and frankly think they are the best thing ever.... and completely fail safe. They will take you all of about 2-3 hours... and this includes proving time!
So.... to the recipe.
- 450g strong white bread flour
- 50g caster sugar
- 50g unsalted butter
- 12g dried yeast
- 44-50ml water - the amount depends on what you use for a 'filling'. If using chocolate drops, fudge or anything that could melt with the hot milk and butter, use less water.
- dried fruit - your choice, I like cranberries
- 1 orange zest
- 1 lemon zest
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground coriander
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground clove
- 1 egg
- 1 egg for glazing
- 50ml golden syrup
And now to the method...
- Heat your milk to hot, not boiling, but hot.
- Melt butter
- Warm water to luke warm
- Mix all your dry ingredients in a stand mixer, leaving the yeast to the last minute. Stir with a wooden spoon so everything is well mixed.
- Make a well in the middle and add the wet ingredients - Milk, Water, Butter then egg. Be careful with the water, it has to be exact or it will make your mixture too sticky and difficult to work with.
- Stir with a wooden spoon until a little bit incorporated. Then using a dough hook in your stand mixer, mix on medium speed till incorporated. Keep mixing for about 3 minutes, this will help with the kneading.
Here's a little video on kneading, or at least how I like to do it!
- Turn the dough onto a work surface - no need for flour, unless your dough is too hot and sticky, you may need to use a bit of flour, not too much as your buns will be heavy and won't rise properly. Knead for about 6 minutes - this is important as you want your dough to be stretchy. By doing this you are activating the gluten and making sure the yeast is working with the hot milk and butter.
- Make into a smooth ball and put into a well oiled bowl, don't oil it too much or your dough will be too oily. Wrap in oiled cling film and place in a warm area. I usually put it either on top of my oven, or I turn my oven on high, once it's heated, turn it off, open the door and stick your bowl in front of it.
- Leave your dough to prove until it has doubled in size
- Once it has doubled in size, push all the air out and knead again for a further 2-3 minutes. You don't want any air or you will get empty pockets in your finished buns, and frankly we want as much bun as possible to enjoy right?!
- Cut, weigh and roll into smooth balls. I usually make mine between 61g-63g each, you'll have a tiny bit left over, just roll it into a small ball and enjoy it straight from the oven!
Rolling into perfect balls!
- Cover in oiled grease proof paper and leave to rise again till double the size.
- While they are proving, make a paste with flour and water, you want it to be gloopy and thick.
- Preheat oven to 170ºC / 338ºF / Gas mark 3.
- Once doubled in size, brush with egg wash, and draw a cross over each, either by piping or with a spoon. They might look a little suncken and wrinkly, don't worry, they'll be fine!
- Bake for 13-14 minutes in preheated oven or until golden brown.
- As soon as they come out, brush with heated golden syrup. You can also use warm apricot jam, or a simple syrup.
When eating your hot cross buns, if you'd like them hot, either eat them straight from the oven - the best, or slice in half and stick under the grill for 30-45 seconds. Don't put them in the toaster because of the glaze. Of course you don't have to glaze them if you'd rather use a toaster!