For many of us, Easter is associated with the aroma of freshly baked hot cross buns. Whereas these spicy, fruity buns can be found in the States, they are often overshadowed by the vast array of chocolate bunnies and Easter eggs.
With a little bit of time and effort, you can bake your own delicious hot cross buns this year.
Here’s our favorite version of this Easter treat:
- 4 cups + ~½ cup flour
- 2 ¼-ounce sachets instant active dry yeast or 4 teaspoons instant active dry yeast
- ¼ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1½ cups mixed dried fruit, e.g., raisins, sultanas, cranberries, cherries, blueberries
- 6 tablespoons (¾ stick) butter or margarine
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- Pastry dough for crosses
- 2 tablespoons (¼ stick) butter
- ½ cup flour
- iced water
- 3 tablespoons apricot jam
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- First make the buns. Mix 4 cups of the flour and the remaining dry ingredients, including the fruit, in a large mixing bowl.
- Warm the butter with the buttermilk in a small saucepan until the butter melts.
- Whisk the eggs in a jug and add the buttermilk-butter mixture to the egg.
- While mixing, pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients to form a moist dough. Gradually add more flour (~½ cup) until the dough can be manipulated.
- Knead until the dough becomes soft, smooth and elastic. Rub a little cooking oil onto your hands to prevent it from sticking.
- Lightly oil the mixing bowl. Shape the dough into a ball and place it in the mixing bowl.
- Cover the dough with cling wrap or a damp dishcloth and set it aside to rise in a warm place for 40–50 minutes, until it has doubled in size.
- Meanwhile, make the pastry dough for the crosses. Rub the butter into the flour and cut in the water to form a dough.
- Shape the pastry dough into a ball and refrigerate until needed.
- Lightly knock down the bun dough and divide it into 18 pieces.
- Shape the pieces of dough into round buns and flatten slightly.
- Space the buns on a greased and lightly floured baking tray, approximately 12x17 inches. Disposable aluminum cake, fudge and brownie pans work well here.
- Leave the buns to rise in a warm place, until they have again doubled in size. This will take about 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, thinly roll out the pastry dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut strips of the desired width and length for the crosses.
- Just before baking the buns, moisten the strips with cold water and position them to form crosses on top of the buns. The water fuses the pastry to the dough.
- Bake at 350°F for 20–25 minutes.
- Prepare the glaze. Heat the jam, sugar, water and lemon juice together in a small saucepan, stirring until the sugar dissolves.
- Boil for a few minutes until the syrup thickens.
- Glaze the buns with the syrup as soon as they are removed from the oven. Serve warm with butter.
A table model food mixer with a dough hook is ideal for kneading yeast products.
These buns freeze well and can be reheated in the microwave. Alternatively, the buns can be frozen before rising, and then allowed to thaw and rise before baking.