I keep thinking that I should bake something that challenges me, rather than something which is easy. The problem is (isn’t it always) that I’m tired of challenges and so instead I met this halfway. When a friend asked if these were easy to bake, I had to respond “yes, if you enjoy baking bread”. Because really, that’s the thing. The issue is time rather than technical difficulty.
The last time I baked hot cross buns I was 10 years old. I don’t remember much of the experience other than at that age I had no mental processes constantly questioning my wisdom. Age, huh! Anyway, here we are, a number (lots) of years later and I thought I should give these another try.
I love a good hot cross bun, and I am usually very traditional, none of those fancy variations for me……until Marks & Spencer brought out their chocolate and salted caramel hot cross buns. Oh, heaven!! These are divine. I can’t however aspire to baking something quite as delicious and so I thought I’d stick with traditional, although I quite fancy trying a cranberry, orange and ginger variation at some stage.
I couldn’t find my original recipe and my google search took a while since a lot of the recipes made larger quantities than I hoped for. I found this Mary Berry recipe on the BBC Food website, and so here it is.
500g strong bread flour
75g caster sugar
2 teaspoons mixed spice powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 lemon, finely grated zest only
10g fast action dried yeast
1 egg, beaten
50g finely chopped mixed candied peel
Put the flour, spices, sugar, salt, lemon zest, and yeast in a large bowl and gently mix to combine. Add the sultanas and candied peel.
Melt the butter in a small pan and then warm the milk so that it is tepid, in a separate pan.
Add the butter and half the milk to the dry ingredients and add the egg, using your hands to bring the mixture together. Gradually add more milk as necessary so that you have a soft pliable dough, you might not need it all.
Tip the dough on to a lightly floured surface and knead for around 10 minutes until the dough is silky and elastic. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave somewhere warm to rise – around 1 ½ hours or until doubled in size.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 12 balls (if you are a perfectionist, weigh each ball so that they are all exactly the same size).
Line a baking tray with baking parchment and place the balls on the tray fairly close together, flattening them slightly. Cover with a large polythene bag, or a cloth and leave for around an hour to rise – until doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 220°C (200°C fan).
For the topping, put 90g flour in a bowl and mix with 100ml water to form a smooth paste (you might not need all the water). The paste should not be too thick or too runny, as you want to pipe the paste on to the buns.
Once the buns have risen pipe a cross on each bun. Put the buns in the oven to bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until they are pale golden brown.
The recipe calls for golden syrup to be brushed on each bun as it comes out of the oven, to make a glaze, but I made a mix of icing sugar and water and brushed this on the buns instead.
Wait for these to cool before eating, and enjoy! These buns also freeze well.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, I wish you a peaceful weekend 🙂