Hot Cross Buns are a traditional Easter bun, eaten on Good Friday in the UK. In fact they can be eaten at any time, but Good Friday is the tradition. These days the shop bought versions are available for months in advance of Easter. They also come in many different combinations of flavours. Personally I prefer the more traditional flavours.
Since I already have a couple of versions of Hot Cross Buns on the blog and on Youtube I thought I would make a variation, in the shape of a loaf that can be sliced, rather than individual buns.
I then got even more adventurous and decided to make two variations, one free form bun shaped and the other in a loaf tin. I also decided to mix up the fruit a little. Usually currants are the main fruit, with mixed peel. But for this version I have used currants, sultanas, raisin, glace cherries and peel. Of course you can mix any dried fruit you wish, blueberries, cranberries, etc, and even chocolate chips if you wish. But I stuck with my tried and tested favourites.
Although I made two loaves the recipe below, and the ingredients used to mix the dough in the video are enough for just one. I made a second batch of dough off camera. I did this mainly because not everyone might have a 2lb loaf tin and I wanated to show that they could still make the loaf if they wished.
Also, if individual buns are preferrred the recipe below will make 12. But the baking time should be reduced to 25 – 30 minutes.
Although making these take a little time it is very rewarding since the resultant loaf is very good indeed, with the lovely texture of the bread, with lots of fruity filling and the hit of the spices too.
Mine turned out very well indeed and is perfect to eat with just some butter. Sliced and toasted and then buttered is also wonderful.
For the dough:
- 500g(4 cups) strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
- 75g(3/8 cup) caster sugar
- 2 tsp all spice powder
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 lemon, finely grated zest only
- 10g/¼oz salt
- 10g/(1 1/2 sachets) fast-action dried yeast
- 40g/1½oz butter
- 300ml(1 1/4 cups) milk
- 1 medium egg, beaten (large in USA)
- 200g (1 1/2 cups) dried fruit( I used 50g each of currants, sultanas, raisins and chopped morello glace cherries) . Any combination is fine if you like it.
- 50g(1/3 cup) finely chopped mixed peel
- oil, for greasing
- 25g flour
- 2-3 tbsp water
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- + warmed apricot jam for brushing on top.
- Heat the milk until warm, but not hot.
- Melt the butter.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer place the flour, all spice, cinnamon, lemon zest and sugar.
- Add the yeast on one side of the bowl and the salt on the other side.
- Mix all those dry ingredients together.
- Add the egg, butter and half of the milk.
- Knead with the dough attachment(you can do this by hand but it is more work) until the dough is a glossy, elastic constistency that is slightly tacky.
- Gradually add the remaining milk, to form a soft pliable dough (you may not need all of the milk)
- Add the dried fruit and mixed peel and mix until all is combined.
- Lightly flour the work surface and tip the dough out onto it.
- Knead and turn until satisfied that the fruit is fairly evenly incorporated.
- Form the dough into a ball and place into a greased bowl, turning over once to fully coat in oil.
- Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to prove for 1 1/2-2 hours until it has doubled in size.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knock back to remove the air.
- Then make the loaf, either by folding the dough in on itself and forming a ball, which is then placed on a lined baking tray, or by dividing into 8 equal sized pieces and rolling into a log shape about 3 inches long which can be placed on end in the 2lb loaf tin, in two rows of 4.
- Cover the loaf again, loosely with plastic wrap or a damp towel and allow to prove until doubled in size(1 – 1/2 hours).
- While the dough is proving preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/400F.
- Mix 25g flour with the oil and a little of the water to form a thick paste that is just loose enough to be piped. You may not need all of the water.
- Place that mixture into a piping bag and snip off the end leaving a hole of no more than about 1/4 inch.
- Pipe one cross on a round loaf, making the cross about 1/2 inch wide, or pipe 8 crosses, one on each of the tops of the logs, but only about 1/4 inch.
- Bake in the oven for 35 0 40 minutes, until the top is a nice golden colour, and the base sounds hollow when tapped. You can test the internal temperature if you have a thermometer, and it should be at least 88C/190F.
- Remove from tin, or baking tray and place on a wire rack.
- Brush with a little warmed apricot jam to give a sticky, top and then allow to cool completely.