A lovely crunchy biscuit alternative to Hot Cross Buns. Spiced and fruited like those buns, full of flavour and great with tea.
As Easter approaches I was thinking about Hot Cross Buns. I love them and have recipes and videos online for making the traditional ones. Of course these days, in the supermarkets, you can buy lots of variations of the buns, using different fruits, and even nuts and chocolate. But for me the only ones I am interested in are the traditional ones, with that lovely spice and dried fruit, currants, sultanas or raisins and choppied mixed peel.
As I already have recipes online for Hot Cross Buns I decided to make something different for Easter. I have already done Hot Cross Scones. from a week of so ago. So now I present Hot Cross Biscuits(or cookies if you prefer). The same delicious flavours but with the crunchiness of a lovely shortcake biscuit.
The biscuits are actually quite simple to make and I have two different methods of creating the biscuits but both use the same dough. One variation cuts out the biscuits and then a cross of plain dough is placed on the top. The second variation is taking a log of dough and incorporating a cross of plain dough into it by judicious cutting of the dough and pressing together again.
So in the recipe below I will provide instructions for each type.
Mine turned out very well indeed. They had the perfect crunch to them and the flavours were just as you get from a Hot Cross Bun. I found the biscuits very easy to eat, in fact I am afraid I rather over-indulged, to the extent that I made 3 batches in quick succession. They are certainly up there with the best I have ever made.
For a more traditional Easter bake here are my Hot Cross Buns
For the biscuit dough:
- 200g(1 1/3 cup, based on scooping packed flour into a 250mlc up) plain flour
- 113g(1 stick) softened unsalted butter
- 87g(7 tbsp) light brown sugar
- 1 medium egg yolk(reserve the white for use later)
- 50g(1/3 cup) currants( use chopped raisins or sultanas if you wish)
- 20g(2 tbsp) chopped mixed peel, chopped even finer to make smaller pieces
- 1 tsp mixed spice(or all spice)
- 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
For the dough to make crosses:
- 28g(2 tbsp) softened unsalted butter
- 22g(scant 2 tbps) caster sugar
- 50g(1/3 cup, based on scooping packed flour into 250ml cup) plain flour
- a little of the reserved egg white(about 1 tsp) to incorporate into dough and more for brushing.
- To make the biscuit dough place the butter and brown sugar into a bowl and cream until light and fluffy(I used my hand mixer).
- Add the egg yolk and mix to incorporate fully.
- Mix the flour, mixed spice, cinnamon and salt together and place into the butter mixture.
- Start to mix the flour into the butter mixture, pouring in the currants and chopped mixed peel as you do so.
- Mix until everything begins to clump.
- Squeeze some between your fingers and if it is easily pressed into a dough that is good enough. If you need some extra moisture you can put a teaspoon of egg white in to help it clump.
- Squeeze the mixture together and knead for a few seconds to make a nice smooth, soft dough.
- Form into a ball and then divide into 1 equal portions.
- Form one portion into a disc and wrap in plastic wrap.
- Form the second portion into a log shape, about 6.5 cm(2 1/2 inches) in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap.
- Place both portions into the fridge to chill for at least 30 minutes( for the last 10 minutes place the log into the freezer to make cutting in half easier).
- To make the plain dough cream the butter and sugar together.
- Add the flour and mix until it begins to clump, adding a little egg white if necessary.
- Squeeze the mixture together and form into a disc of dough.
- Wrap it in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge.
- To make biscuits with a cross on the top follow steps 17 to 26 below. For biscuits with the cross incorporated follow steps 27 to 41 below.
- Take the disc of biscuit dough from the fridge and place between two layers of plastic wrap.
- Roll out to a thickness of 5mm(1/4 inch).
- Using a 7cm(2 3/4 inch) cookie cutter cut out the biscuit shapes and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet, leaving a gap between each.
- Take the cross dough from the fridge and divide into two pieces, placing one piece back in the fridge.
- Roll the remaining piece, between plastic wrap until it is a very thin (about 2mm) rectangle.
- Cut a rectangle about 7cm(2 3/4 inches) in width.
- Using a sharp knife cut thin strips 7cm long. The thickness of the strips will be the thickness of the cross, so you can decide how thick to cut the strips.
- Brush a little egg white on the top of each cut out biscuit and place two of the strips, in the form of a cross on the top.
- Gently press the cross onto the top of the biscuit.
- Place the tray into the fridge until the oven is preheated( temps shown later).
- Take the log of biscuit dough from the fridge(or freezer if you chilled for the last 10 minutes).
- Take the remaining cross dough from the fridge.
- Roll the cross dough as before, using any remaining from the first rolling too, into a thin rectangle, about 3-4 mm thick.
- Take a sharp knife and cut the log of dough, in half lengthways.
- Place one half, flat side down onto the rolled. out cross dough.
- Cut around the shape of the log on the dough and remove the excess cross dough, leaving just that which is under the half log of biscuit dough.
- Carefully lift both the cross dough and the half log, turning over so the cross dough is on the top.
- Place the other half of the biscuit log on the top and carefully squeeze together so everything sticks together.
- Now place the log on the work surface, with the layer of cross dough parallel to the surface.
- Cut in half again along the length of the log.
- Carefully cover one flat surface with cross dough the excess from the previous rolling), patching as necessary to cover to a thickness of 3-4mm.
- Press the other half of the log onto that surface and squeeze together. Now the cross should be embedded within the log.
- Carefully slice the log into 5mm (1/4 inch) discs and place on a parchment lined baking sheet.
- Gently press the discs into a more rounded shape if necessary.
- Place the tray into the fridge to chill as you preheat the oven.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350 F.
- Place the trays of biscuits into the oven and bake for between 17 and 20 minutes, until the biscuit have coloured nicely, but are not going dark around the edges(mine too 18 minutes). If you wish a slightly softer crunch bake for between 15 and 17 minutes instead.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.