Hot Cross Buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday. But, here in the UK, they are available months before Easter in all the supermarkets.
The traditional Hot Cross Buns are made with currants and chopped mixed peel and a combination of spices. But these days the supermarkets offer a range of different flavours, including some with chocolate, other fruits, toffee pieces etc.
For me the traditional one is always what I want, since I enjoy the flavour combination so much.
I already have a recipe for Hot Cross Buns on this blog, as well as other related recipes. But this recipe is a variation of that original one. This one has some extra spice flavours infused into the milk required for the recipe. That offers a more complex flavour combination without altering the basic texture and flavours of the buns.
I took the idea of the infused milk from a recipe by Felicity Cloake, in The Guardian. It uses cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and saffron to give a lovely flavour, and colour, to the milk. Other than that I stuck closely to the recipe from my original Hot Cross Buns, since I was confident that it would work well.
As with all yeasted doughs this recipe does take some time, as time is required for proofing. Extra time is required for this recipe, to allow the spices to infuse with the milk.
But the time is mostly just waiting, rather than actually working on the buns. So the basic steps are
Infuse the milk
Make the dough
Proof the dough
Shape the buns
Add a cross on the top of the buns.
Bake the Hot Cross Buns and brush with syrup or glaze.
My Hot Cross Buns
I infused the milk which took on a wonderful golden colour and a lovely flavour. Then I made the dough, using a stand mixer. I should stress, though, that the recipe can be done by hand too.
The proofing and shaping was very easy. Then the buns were left for a final proof before being topped with crosses made with a simple flour and water paste.
Then they baked for 20 minutes, rising and colouring well. I took them out of the oven and brushed them with some golden syrup while they were still hot. Then I allowed them to cool down before tasting one.
The flavour was superb, with the fruitiness of the currants and mixed peel and the warming spices working so well together. The texture was lovely and soft too. I sampled one with some butter and then had one toasted later one. Both were very good indeed.
Another great treat for Easter is Spiced Easter Biscuits.
Hot Cross Buns – For EasterCourse: Bread, Easter BakingCuisine: BritishDifficulty: Medium
300ml (1 1/4 cups) milk
3 cardamom pods, cracked
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole cloves
pinch of saffron
500g(3 1/3 cups, based on scooping packed flour into a 250ml cup) strong white bread flour
10g(3 tsp) instant yeast
42g(3 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted
1 medium egg(large USA), beaten
150g(1 cup) currants
50g(5 tbsp) chopped mixed peel
6g(1 tsp) salt
6g(2 tsp) all spice
1.5g(1/2 tsp) ground ginger
zest from one lemon
- For the crosses
75g(1/2 cup) strong white bread flour
100ml(1/2 cup minus 4 tsp) water – may not need it all
40g(2 tbsp) golden syrup , see note below
- Place the milk, cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, cloves and saffron into a saucepan and heat it just until it starts to boil, and immediately remove from the heat and leave to infuse for one hour.
- Strain the milk to remove the spices.
- Heat the milk until lukewarm, about 42C/108F.
- Place the flour and yeast into the bowl of a stand mixer(you can make the dough by hand too), and stir to combine.
- Add the all spice, ginger, zest and sugar and stir again.
- Sprinkle the salt over the top.
- Pour in the melted butter and beaten egg and then about 1/2 of the milk.
- Mix with the dough hook, on a low speed, until the mixture begins to come together, adding more milk a little at a time. You may not need all the milk, just use enough for everything to form a shaggy dough.
- Increase to a medium speed and knead until the dough is soft and stretchy and everything is fully combined(mine took about 6 or 7 minutes).
- Add the currants and chopped mixed peel and knead again until the fruit is fairly evenly distributed.
- Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it a few times to ensure the fruit is mixed in well. Then form the dough into a ball.
- Place the dough into a greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap then leave it in a warm place until it has doubled in size. This might take 1 to 2 hours.
- Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knock the air out.
- Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and form each into a tight ball.
- Place the dough balls onto a parchment lined baking tray quite closely together so that they will just about join up as they proof again.
- Cover the dough balls with a clean tea towel and allow them to proof again, until they have doubled in size.
- Preheat the oven to 220C/200C Fan/430F.
- Mix the flour with as much of the water as needed to form a thick but pipeable slurry.
- Put the slurry into a piping bag(you can just spoon crosses onto the buns if you wish) and pipe a thin cross over the top of each bun.
- Bake the buns for 20 to 25 minutes until they have risen well and coloured nicely.
- Warm the golden syrup(or make a simple sugar/water syrup).
- Take the buns out of the oven and brush some golden syrup over the tops and then allow them to cool completely.
- If you wish you can use a simple sugar/water syrup instead of golden syrup. Heat a tbsp sugar with a tbsp water until the sugar dissolves and use that as the syrup. Or you can also use warmed apricot jam.