With only a week until Easter, now is the perfect time to get prepping. The shops are full of yummy Easter treats like hot cross buns, but how about making them yourself? These traditional bakes are loved by all ages and are a staple in any household this season!
For the buns:
- 300ml full-fat milk, plus 2 tablespoons more
- 50g butter
- 500g strong bread flour
- Teaspoon salt
- 75g caster sugar
- Tablespoon sunflower oil
- 7g sachet fast-action or easy-blend yeast
- 1 egg, beaten
- 75g sultanas
- 50g mixed peel
- Zest of 1 orange
- 1 apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
- Teaspoon ground cinnamon
For the crosses:
- 75g plain flour, plus extra for dustig
For the glaze:
- 3 tablespoons apricot jam
- Bring the milk to the boil, then remove from the heat and add the butter. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast (only use fast-action or easy-blend, as these can be incorporated into dry ingredients straight away) into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, then add the egg. Using a wooden spoon, mix well, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough.
- Tip on to a lightly floured surface and knead by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour or until doubled in size and a finger pressed into it leaves a dent.
- With the dough still in the bowl, tip in the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, apple and cinnamon. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is well distributed. Leave to rise for 1 hour more or until doubled in size, again covered by some well-oiled cling film to stop the dough from forming a crust.
- Divide the dough into 15 even pieces (about 75g per piece). Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured work surface. Arrange the buns on one of two baking trays lined with parchments, leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Cover (but don’t wrap) with more oiled cling film or a clean tea towel, then set aside to prove for 1 hour more.
- Heat the oven to 220c/200c fan/gas mark 7. Mix the plain flour with about 5 tablespoons of water to make the paste for the cross. Add the water one tablespoons at a time, so you add just enough to make a thick paste. 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. Once complete, bake the buns for around 20 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, until they become golden brown.
- Gently heat the apricot jam to melt, then sieve to get rid of any chunks. While the jam is still warm, brush over the top of the warm buns and leave to cool to form a beautiful glaze.
While there is a fair amount of planning and time involved in making these hot cross buns, the results are worth it. There’s nothing like home-baking, particularly around Easter, so these would be the perfect things to make! Served up slightly toasted with butter, they’re sure to win everyone’s hearts.