Recipe: Hot Cross Buns

There is nothing nicer than the smell of freshly baked bread, except the smell of spicy, fruity hot cross buns baking! This Easter, instead of buying manufactured hot cross buns filled with preservatives and other nasties, why not bake your own? It’s not difficult to do, and the results are absolutely worth it. Yes, it does take a little time, but like anything in life the best things can’t be rushed.

A great tip I learnt is to prepare the recipe up to the stage of shaping the buns the evening before, and allow to rise in the fridge overnight. Then all you need to do on Easter Sunday morning is put the oven on, pipe the crosses on the buns and delight in the sweet, spicy smell that wafts through your home as they bake. Oh, and enjoy your freshly baked hot cross buns, straight out of the oven, with lashings of real butter.

1 cup milk
60g butter
500g plain flour
90g caster sugar
1 x 7g sachet dried yeast
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 large egg, lightly beaten
225g dried fruit (raisins, currants, sultanas, mixed peel)
2 tablespoons self-raising flour
2 tablespoons cold water
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons boiling water

1. Place the milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat gently until the butter melts and the milk is warm (but not hot).
2. Sift together the flour, sugar, yeast, salt and spices. Add the milk and butter mixture, mix thoroughly, then add the egg and mix well to form a dough.
3. Work in the dried fruit and turn out onto a floured surface and kneed for 10 minutes or until smooth. Place in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic food wrap and put in a warm place to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.

4. Punch down the dough and divide into 12 evenly sized portions. Knead each portion lightly and form into a ball. Place on a lighly oiled lamington tray – buns should be close together, almost touching. Cover with lightly oiled plastic food wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size, about an hour. Alternatively, place in the refrigerator and allow to rise overnight.

5. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Mix the flour and the water to form a paste. Spoon into a freezer bag and snip the corner off (or a piping bag if you own one) and pipe crosses over the buns.

6. Bake the buns for 20 minutes or until they sound hollow when tapped.
7. For the glaze, mix the sugar, cinnamon and boiling water together until the sugar dissolves. Brush over the buns as soon as they come out of the oven.
8. Serve piping hot with butter.



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