I’m going to be away for Easter in Australia visiting the future in-laws, so am going to miss out on the traditional treats that I’d be indulging in with the family down in Cornwall.
Food wise, the main thing I’m going to miss is the Hot Cross Buns. I love them. Toasted, slathered in melting butter and a good dollop of course bitter sweet orange marmalade. Anyway, I told myself that I wasn’t going to miss out, so decided to make my own for the first time. This recipe is lifted pretty much lock, stock and barrel from here on the BBC Food website, and the results went down a storm.
625g strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
1 tsp salt
2 tsp ground mixed spice
45g unsalted butter, cut into cubes, plus extra for greasing
1 lemon, zest only
1½ tsp fast-action yeast
1 free-range egg
275ml tepid milk
125g mixed dried fruit
For the topping
2 tbsp plain flour
vegetable oil, for greasing
1 tbsp golden syrup, gently heated, for glazing
For the buns, sieve the flour, salt and ground mixed spice into a large mixing bowl, then rub in the butter using your fingertips creating a breadcrumb like mixture. Make a well in the centre of the mixture, then add the sugar and lemon zest and yeast.
Now beat the egg, add to the flour with the tepid milk and mix together to a form a soft, pliable dough and then turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface. Carefully work the mixed dried fruit into the dough until well combined. Knead lightly for at least 5 minutes.
Grease a large mixing bowl with butter. Shape the dough into a ball and place it into the prepared bowl, then cover with a cling film and set aside in a warm place for one hour to prove. Turn out the proved dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knock back the dough. Shape it into a ball again and return it to the bowl, cover again and set aside for a further 30 minutes to rise.
After half an hour, turn out the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, then flatten slightly into a bun shape using the palms of your hands. Cover the buns with the tea towel and set aside to rest for 5-10 minutes.
Grease a baking tray with butter and transfer the buns to the tray. Wrap the tray with the buns on it loosely in greaseproof paper, then place inside a large polythene bag. Tie the end of the bag so that no air can get in and set aside in a warm place for a further 40 minutes to rise.
While this is going on, Preheat the oven to 240 C, then prepare the cross topping by mixing the plain flour to a smooth paste with 2 tablespoons of cold water. When the buns have risen, remove the bag and the greaseproof paper. Spoon the flour mixture into a small plastic bag, nip off the tip of one of the corners to create a piping bag, and pipe a cross across each bun.
Now, transfer the buns to the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until pale golden-brown. As soon as you remove the buns from the oven, brush them with the hot golden syrup, then set aside to cool on a wire rack.
The buns will be very sticky to start with, but the golden syrup will sink in over time. Eat as suggested, toasted with butter and orange marmalade, or however you like them.