I made these delicious buns a few years ago and I thought back then that they turned out alright. I was so proud of them that I froze half of them and presented them to my partner a few months later. He ate them politely as we were newly dating but I will admit that they were a little hard and perhaps the freezer wasn’t the greatest idea.
Yes, it is the long Easter weekend and I’ve been going a bit nuts in the kitchen. I couldn’t resist the temptation to have another go at making hot cross buns. I was hoping that the wisdom of age and experience would make this batch less stone-like. In addition, I could have my partner eat them warm and straight out of the oven rather than straight out of the freezer. I consulted a few hot cross bun recipes on Google, including Nigella Lawson’s one and settled on a happy admixture of all of them. I will assume they turned out well because I made 8 buns on Friday afternoon and as of Saturday evening, there were none left.
Ingredients (makes 8 medium sized buns):
3 teaspoons of sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons of dried active yeast
3 cups of strong flour + 1 tablespoon for the crosses (the regular flour makes hard buns)
rind of 1 lime/lemon ( I had limes so I used them)
3 teaspoons of mixed peel
1 tablespoon of raisins
3 tablespoons of sultanas
8 dried, pitted dates, chopped
2 tablespoons of dried mango, chopped
50 gms of butter, chopped
1 teaspoon of ground mixed spice
1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
1 tablespoon of icing sugar for crosses
1 tablespoon of caster sugar for glazing
1. Preheat the oven to 50ºC.
2. Mix the sugar, milk and water in a small bowl and warm in the microwave until the sugar has dissolved. If you put your finger in the milk and it should be just warm to the touch. If it is too hot, the let it cool down. One it is just warm, sprinkle the yeast over the top and let it sit for 15-20 minutes.
3. Sift the 3 cups of flour into a mixing bowl. Add the lime/lemon rind to the flour and place the mixing bowl in the oven at 50ºC. This infuses the flavour of the lime/lemon into the flour and the flour smells lovely afterwards (picture 1).
4. Add the raisins, sultanas, mixed peel, chopped dates and mango to the flour and mix through the flour (picture 2).
5. Add the butter, mixed spice, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger and mix well through the flour (picture 3).
6. Return to the oven for 10 minutes until the butter softens and the flour is warm. Then turn the oven off.
7. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and add the frothy yeast to it (pictures 4 & 5).
8. Mix the yeast into the flour and knead for 10-12 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. You will find some sultanas and raisins falling out of the dough but stick them right back in and they will eventually be incorporated into the dough (pictures 6 & 7).
9. Place the dough back in the mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let it rise for about an hour or until it is doubled in size (pictures 8 & 9).
10. Divide the dough into 8 bits and shape them into slightly flattened balls. I divide the big ball of dough in half, then each half into further halves, and then those halves into further halves thus giving 8 bits (picture 10).
11. Place the balls on a non-stick baking paper and cover them in plastic wrap. Place in a warm place until the dough has doubled (picture 11). In this time, preheat the oven to 200ºC.
12. When the dough has doubled , make crosses on all the buns with the back of a spoon (pictures 12 & 13).
13. Combine 1 tablespoon of flour, 1 tablespoon of icing sugar and 2 tablespoons of warm water in a small bowl to make a thin batter (picture 14).
14. Pour the thin batter into the crosses using a small spoon. Don’t worry if it overflows – it makes the buns unique and pretty (pictures 15 & 16).
15. Bake the buns at 200ºC for 15-20 minutes or until the tops are golden brown.
16. Make a solution with 1 tablespoon of caster sugar and 1 tablespoon of boiling water. Pour this over the hot buns to make them slightly sweet and shiny.
17. Let the glazed buns sit for 5 minutes and eat while warm with butter or with jam.
Happy Easter and remember that it’s not Easter if you haven’t eaten a hot cross bun!