Let’s face it: Easter just isn’t Easter without hot cross buns.
But mostly hot cross buns.
If you’re feeling a bit daunted by the whole prospect of making your own, don’t be. Let Auntie English Mum guide you through the whole process. Think of me as a little friend hovering at your shoulder in the kitchen. Actually don’t. That’s a bit creepy.
Anyhoo, it’s really easy (with a bit of waiting around), and the gorgeous scent of these spicy orangey wonders fills the whole house. So let’s get cracking.
Zest of 1 orange
450g strong white bread flour
1 tbsp mixed spice
1 tsp salt
1 x 7g sachet dried yeast
100g sultanas (or mixed peel if you must – bleurgh)
For the cross:
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp caster sugar
For the glaze:
1 tbsp orange marmalade, rindless or sieved
Before you start, assemble and weigh out your ingredients. This will save you time and prevent any flapping half way through the recipe.
So in a small saucepan (or jug if you’re doing it in the microwave) warm the milk, water, orange zest (use the finest grater you have) and butter until the butter is just melted, then turn off the heat. Let it cool so that when you stick your finger in, it feels like blood temperature.
While the liquid is cooling, sieve the flour and ground mixed spice together into a large bowl. Next, stir in the salt, sugar, dried yeast and sultanas (have a quick pick over to make sure there are no stalks left).
If you’ve got a mixer, pop in all the dry ingredients, then set it on low and slowly pour in the milky mixture until the dough comes together (you might not need all of it so go steady), then plug in the dough hook and set it to knead for a good five minutes.
If you’re old-fashionedy or are still waiting to meet the mixer of your dreams (they do actually come out nicer and lighter if you knead them by hand), you’ll have to get to it for at least ten minutes. Yes, I know, sorry, but it’s true. Knead away, holding the dough lightly with one hand while you stretch it away from you with the other, before bringing it together and repeating the process. The sultanas keep trying to escape, but grab any of the little blighters trying to make a quick getaway and poke them back in. Keep going until the dough is nice and springy and firm (think the texture of a boob, or possibly a bottom cheek – poke your finger in – if the dough springs back, then it’s done – if not, knead a bit more). Disclaimer: possibly best if you don’t actually do this with people’s boobs.
When your dough is sufficiently springy, leave it covered with a clean tea towel in a warm place until it’s doubled in size. Then, just knock it back with your fist and cut it in half, then half again and half again. Form each of your 8 pieces into a ball and place them on a floured baking tray. Cover and rise again until they’re puffed up.
If you want to add the cross, then mix about 2 tbsp flour, a tsp of caster sugar and enough water to make into a thick paste and either just dribble it with a teaspoon, or pipe it onto your buns (ooer Missus) with a disposable piping bag. Or, you can cut a cross in the top of the buns and pipe the cross into the little lines. Totally up to you.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes at 180/gas 6 until they sound hollow when patted on the bottom. Finally, when they’re just out of the oven, warm up the marmalade with a splash of water and brush it on for extra glossy stickiness (use rindless here – you don’t want bits of peel sticking to your buns). If you’re going to freeze them, slice them in half first so they can go straight in the toaster.
And that’s it. Congratulations, you are a master bun maker. Go you!