We grew up eating hot cross buns at Easter, but we have to be honest: as kids, we never really loved them. The mixed candied fruit peel that traditionally goes into them is bitter and unpleasant to childish palates. This recipe reminds you that you can use whatever dried fruit you like. We go for sultanas and dried cherries, but go ahead and try chopped apricots, currents, cranberries, or whatever you like. English Mixed Spicegives these buns a really nice allspice pepperiness that hits you on the aftertaste. It’s lovely.
If you wish to enjoy these warm delicious treats with a beverage, we recommend ourHibiscus Ginger Cordialmixed with sparkling water or still.
1⅓ cups (300ml) whole milk 3½ Tbsp (50g) unsalted butter 3 cups + 2 Tbsp (500g) all-purpose flour 1 tsp kosher salt ⅓ cup (70g) sugar 1 Tbsp canola oil 7g sachet fast acting yeast 1 egg, beaten ½ cup dried fruit; we like sultana raisins and cherries Zest of 1 orange 1 small apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped 1 Tbsp English Mixed Spice
For the glaze:
3 Tbsp apricot jam
For the cross:
½ cup icing sugar 2 tsp water
In a nice, heavy pot, bring the milk to a boil, then remove it from the heat and add the butter. Stir gently to melt the butter. Leave to cool until it reaches hand temperature.
Put 2½ cups of the flour along with the salt, sugar, English Mixed Spice, and yeast into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre. Pour in the warm milk and butter mixture, and then add the egg. Mix well with a wooden spoon, then bring everything together with your hands until you have a sticky dough. Continue adding the rest of the flour until your dough is clean enough to handle but not dry. Still tacky. You may not need all the flour.
Tip onto a lightly floured surface and knead by holding the dough with one hand and stretching it with the heal of the other hand, then folding it back on itself. Repeat for 5 minutes until smooth and elastic. Put the dough in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until it doubles in size and a finger pressed into it leaves a dent.
While the dough is still in the bowl, add the dried fruit, orange zest, and apple. Knead into the dough, making sure everything is well distributed. Allow to rise a second time in the bowl until it has again doubled in size.
Divide the dough into 15 even pieces (about 75g per piece). Roll each piece into a smooth ball on a lightly floured work surface. Arrange the buns on one or two baking trays lined with parchment paper, leaving enough space for the dough to expand. Cover with a clean tea towel and let rise one last time for 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat the oven to 375 degrees. Bake the buns for 15 to 20 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven until golden brown.
Gently heat the apricot jam to melt. While the jam is still warm, brush the top of the warm buns and leave to cool.
Mix the icing sugar with the water until it comes together as a paste. Spoon the mixture into a piping bag, or the corner of a plastic ziptop bag. Cut a small hole in the corner of the bag for piping and when the buns are cool, pipe a line along each row of buns, and repeat in the other direction to create crosses.
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