Sorry for the delay in writing up this recipe. It seems as though Easter was ages ago now and it was only flicking through the photos on my phone a week or so ago, that I realised I’d made these and hadn’t written up about them. In all honesty, they didn’t stay around for long, they were soon eaten by everyone. Another great bun from the book!
Jane’s foreword tells us that this recipe is in fact included in her first book, All You Knead is Bread, but as it’s such a classic she decided to include it in this one too!
This is traditionally an Easter bun and I hope you agree that the homemade variety is infinitely superior to the shop-bought one. You might like it so much that you make it all year round. You can leave off the crosses and just call then not cross buns, if you prefer.
- 150g wholemeal flour
- 300g plain flour
- 1½ tsp instant yeast, 1½ tsp dry yeast or 9g fresh yeast
- 50g sugar
- 250g milk (heated up to just below boiling point and left to cool to room temperature)
- 250g raisins
- 1 egg
- 2¼ tsp salt
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground mixed spice
- 1 tsp ground ginger
- ½ tsp cloves (I missed this out as the family aren’t too keen on the flavour of cloves)
- ½ tsp ground allspice
- 50g butter
- 50g plain flour
- Pinch of baking powder
- ½ tsp vegetable oil of your choice
- 50g cold water
Liquid honey or golden syrup
Oven – 200°C, 400°F, Gas 6
The first thing to do as in most of the recipes in this book is to bring the milk up to just below boiling point and leave to cool to room temperature. But there’s also another thing to do with this recipe. Weigh out the raisins in a small bowl and cover them with a little water (or alcohol or your choice). Leave them to absorb the liquid, giving them a little stir now and then. This, I find prevents the raisins from burning when you cook them and keeps them moist and soft.
Weigh out the two types of flour into a bowl (or use all white flour if you prefer, although I like the appearance of hot cross buns made with half wholemeal flour – they’re more authentic), make a well and sprinkle in the year and sugar and pour over the cooled milk. Flick the flour over the top of the milk, cover and put to one side for an hour. Get on with some housework… or take the dog for a walk in my case (anything to get out of housework)!
After an hour, add the egg, salt and spices to the dough and bring together into a ball. Turn it out onto a board and knead it for 10 minutes. This mixture is extremely sticky and I must admit that after about 5 minutes more of it appeared to be on my hands than on the board, so I scraped it into my food mixer and used that instead. It did feel like I was cheating a little, but I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere and I was determined not to add any more flour. After 5 minutes I added the butter and continued using the mixer for the dough. It was very, very sticky. After another 10 minutes the mixer did seem to be getting rather warm, so I turned it off and covered the bowl and allowed the dough to rest for 10 minutes.
The raisins were then added to the dough. Jane does say to drain them, but there didn’t seem to be any liquid left in mine, it had all been absorbed. Using my fingers the raisins were squished into the dough until they were evenly incorporated and the bowl covered again and left to rest for 2 hours, in which time it should double in size.
After the dough has doubled in size, pull it out onto an unfloured board and divide it into 16 equal portions. I must admit I am becoming a bit obsessed with having all my rolls the same weight. A few months ago, I would have just looked at the dough, chopped it into 16 pieces (all of different weights) and made the buns this way. But no, now I weigh the dough, divide the weight by the amount of buns I am making and weigh them our very precisely. It does take a while longer, but I must admit it looks much neater when you serve the buns!
As this is a sticky dough, you don’t have to stretch and fold the dough as you do with a drier dough. Instead flour your hands lightly and cup one hand over the dough with your fingertips on the table and the palm of your hand touching the dough (don’t press down). Move your hand in a circular motion, keeping your fingertips on the table and your palm on the dough. The dough will stick to the table causing the tension you need to make a ball. You may have to move it with a scraper once or twice. I love doing this and am can now just about do it with both hands, thus doing it twice as quickly. It reminds me though of the game where you pat your head with one hand and rub your tummy with the other. I must admit that with one hand I move clockwise, but with the other I prefer anti-clockwise, so it does become rather confusing at times. I’m sure my family think I’m mad when they hear giggles coming from the kitchen!!
Once the buns have been rolled into tight balls place them about 2cm apart onto a baking tray that has been lined with parchment. Flour the tops lightly and cover them with a clean, dry tea towel and leave to rest for 45 minutes.
Time now to make the crosses. Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Put the mixture into a piping bag, or a small plastic ‘freezer’ bag. Cut a small hole in one corner and pipe a cross on each bun.
Put the buns in to the preheated oven and bake for approximately 18-20 minutes. Once baked take them out of the oven and place on a cooling rack which has a sheet of greaseproof paper underneath. Gently warm your honey or golden syrup to make it runny and brush over the top of the buns. I used golden syrup – I’ve never used it before on top of hot cross buns – and it was extremely delicious.
As I said at the start, these didn’t stay around for long. In fact, none of the buns I’ve baked so far have!
I promise I won’t be so long writing up the next recipe I bake from the book!