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Hot Cross Buns

Easter is fast approaching! Whatever you're planning, chances are one thing has to be done: hot cross buns!

There are many variations on these spiced buns, typically made with currants or raisins. We add apricots and mixed peel to ours for a little added interest. However you make yours, get them done by Good Friday. English folklore says that hot cross buns baked and served on Good Friday will not spoil or mold during the subsequent year. We cannot attest to the truth of this, as we always eat them up eagerly within a day or two!

Hot Cross Buns

Makes 12

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp dried active yeast
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 125ml warm water
  • 350g strong white flour
  • 100g strong wholemeal flour
  • 2 tsps mixed spice
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 75g sultanas
  • 75g dried apricots, chopped
  • 75g mixed peel
  • 125ml warm milk
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 1 egg, beaten

Piping paste

  • 4 tbsps unbleached white flour
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tbsps cold water

Glazes

  • 1 egg yolk +1 tablespoon milk
  • 2 tbsps sugar + 2 tbsps water

Method

  1. In a bowl mix the dried active yeast with the sugar and add the warm water, whisk, cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm place until frothy which takes about 10-15minutes.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sieve the flour and add the mixed spice, caster sugar, sultanas, dried apricots and mixed peel.
  3. Make a well in the centre and pour in the frothy yeast, warm milk, melted butter and beaten egg. Mix well with your hands into a sticky dough.
  4. Lightly flour a work surface, turn the dough out and knead the dough for 5minutes until soft and smooth.
  5. Place the dough in a clean oiled bowl, cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for 60minutes until it has doubled in size.
  6. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and gently knead the dough. Roll the dough into a sausage and divide up into 12 equal pieces, using scales to be precise.
  7. Roll each piece into a round ball.
  8. Line a baking tray or two with baking parchment and arrange the balls in lines, not quite touching. Leave in a warm place to rise for 45minutes or until the buns have doubled in size.
  9. While the dough is rising preheat the oven to 220C and make the piping paste.
  10. To make the piping paste, mix the flour sugar and water together into a smooth paste.
  11. Put into a piping bag fitted with a small, plain nozzle.
  12. Beat the egg yolk and milk together for the egg wash.
  13. When the buns have risen, make an indent of a cross on each bun using a blunt knife. Brush with the egg wash and then pipe a cross on each bun.
  14. Put the buns in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until they are golden brown and sound hollow when tapped.
  15. While the buns are baking, make the sticky glaze. Dissolve the sugar in the water over a low heat.
  16. As soon as the buns come out brush them with the glaze. Transfer to a wire rack with out pulling them apart and leave to cool.
  17. When cool enough pull apart, slice in half and butter.

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