Spicy and filled with a lot of juicy dried fruit. These hot cross buns are soft and light and taste absolutely divine. They are everything you want and more over the Easter season. Make your Easter more special by whipping up a batch of these light and fluffy hot cross buns.
Hot cross buns are extremely underrated. Like mince pies, I find people think of them as boring and archaic. But I wholeheartedly disagree. Hot cross buns are a classic Easter bake, and they truly are so enjoyable and lovely. I have loved them from a young age, and I love and enjoy them even more now. Easter just would not be the same without them. And there are so many ways to enjoy them. They can be a vehicle for a variety of exciting toppings.
You can eat them fresh and warm with heaps of butter and jam, or toast them until crisp and enjoy with some butter and maybe even a slice of cheese. And you could even slather them with Nutella for a delicious chocolate hot cross bun. And the latest exciting filling idea is making a grilled/toasted hot cross bun sandwich with a chocolate marshmallow egg inside the bun. I have tried it, and it is absolute bliss. Definitely not something you should eat every day, but a delicious every now and again Easter treat.
I love all things spicy and fruity so this hot cross bun recipe promises to deliver lots of spice and fruit. If you like them less spicy/fruity just use less spices/fruit to accommodate your personal preferences. Traditionally hot cross buns are supposed to be eaten on Good Friday, but I just love them so much that I can’t wait that long. I enjoy them throughout the whole Easter season, always accompanied by a cup of tea. And the great thing about this recipe is that the buns can be frozen and reheated at a later stage. So you don’t have to worry about having to eat all 12 in one day. And even if they are a day or two old they still taste great when you toast them.
This recipe is super easy and there is something so rewarding about baking your own hot cross buns. One of them being the smell. The house smells like heaven when the buns are being baked, that mix of spices and freshly baked bread… It’s one of the best aromas ever.
How to make hot cross buns:
Hot cross buns consist of a soft enriched dough mixed with dried fruit and spices. For the fruit I include raisins, sultanas, currants and mixed citrus peel. And for the spices I include cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice. To make the dough you basically just mix the wet and the dry ingredients together and knead it until you have a smooth dough. And then you mix in the fruit and knead it some more. Once you have a soft smooth dough it needs to prove until doubled in size. The proving process is really important, as this is where the gluten builds its strength and this is where the lightness of the buns comes from.
Shaping the buns:
Once the dough has proved you have to divide the dough into 12 equal buns, about 100g of dough per bun. The dough should be nice and smooth, and should not require and flour for the rolling process. To get a smooth bun, pinch four corners of the bottom together into one area in the middle. Then place the bottom onto the sheet of baking paper and cup your hand over the bun. With your palm lightly touching the top of the bun, gently start rolling your hand in a circular motion for 5 seconds. You should then have a nice smooth round bun. Do this with all 12 buns and place them in the prepared baking tray. Allow small gaps in between the buns as they will grow in size. Flatten each bun slightly so that they have a flatter top.
Piping the crosses:
To pipe the crosses you need a smooth, sticky paste made with flour, water and sugar. Spoon this paste into a piping bag fitted with a small 3-5mm piping nozzle. Or you can use a disposable piping bag cut with a small opening. Once all your buns are in the tray, start piping your crosses. In one fluid motion, pipe a line across the first row of 3 buns. Repeat with the other three rows. Then turn your pan horizontally and pipe one long horizontal line across the top 4 buns. Now it should look like the top four buns have crosses. Repeat this with the other two rows. The paste is very sticky so use a knife to help you pinch off the ends. Try to use slow steady movements, but don’t worry if they’re not perfect. This is home baking not Masterchef.
- Soften your currants, raisins and sultanas in boiling water for 5-10 minutes, and drain them before adding it to the dough. This will help the fruit to be soft and juicy, instead of hard and dry.
- Scrape the bowl down throughout the mixing process to make sure that everything is mixed in evenly.
- Use a warmed up oven to prove your dough in. Warm the oven up to just below 50C and turn it off. Place your bowl of dough in the off oven and allow it to prove. This will allow the dough to prove quickly and evenly.
- For the paste it’s best to use a disposable piping bag. It’s very difficult and time-consuming to wash the piping bag that contained the flour paste. Trust me, I speak from experience.
- These hot cross buns freeze wonderfully. Once completely cool place in a plastic bag, seal tightly and freeze it.
Make your Easter even more special by baking your own batch of delicious hot cross buns.
Hot Cross Buns
For the dough:
- 12 g yeast
- 45 g warm water
- 240 g milk
- 125 g butter
- 1 extra large egg
- 500 g cake flour
- 4 g salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 90 g sugar
- 110 g raisins and sultanas mix
- 60 g currants
- 2 tbsp mixed citrus peel
For the flour paste:
- 120 g cake flour
- 100 g water
- 30 g sugar
For the glaze:
- 3 tbsp smooth apricot jam warmed
- Mix the yeast and warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Allow to stand for 5 minutes until the yeast starts to bloom.
- In a separate bowl mix all the flour, salt, spices and sugar together.
- Add the milk and butter to a microwave proof bowl and microwave on high until the milk warms up and the butter starts to melt. Take it out and allow to cool slightly, stirring until the butter has melted. Once the milk has cooled slightly, add the egg to it and whisk well.
- Add the milk and butter to the yeast mix in the stand mixer’s bowl. And then add the flour mix as well. Mix the ingredients together with the dough hook attachment. Mix for 2 minutes, until the dough is homogenous. Then add in the fruit. Mix on a low speed and knead the dough for another 2 minutes.
- Once the dough is smooth and soft, remove the bowl from the mixer and place a piece of cling film over the bowl. Place the bowl in a warm place to prove for about 40 minutes or until doubled in size.
- Grease a large baking tray (35x20cm) with butter. Once the dough has proved, tip it out onto a large sheet of baking paper. Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces (about 100g each). Roll the dough into round and even buns. Place the 12 buns into the greased baking tray.
- For the paste: mix the flour, water and sugar together. When you have a smooth sticky paste, spoon it into a piping bag with a small nozzle/opening (3-5mm).
- Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan.
- Pipe crosses over the buns carefully. Place the tray in a warm place and allow to prove for 20 minutes, or until doubled in size and the buns are touching. Place the tray into the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, brush the tops of the buns with a thin layer of the smooth apricot jam. Allow the buns to cool in the tray for 15 minutes and then remove the buns from the tray and allow to cool on a wire rack.
- Enjoy the hot cross buns warm or toasted with some butter/jam.