Classic Hot Cross Buns

2:13 am on 4 April 2009

Hot cross buns have a rich and interesting history, including being banned in England during the Protestant Reformation.

Traditionally they were baked on Good Friday only, stemming from a belief that bread cooked on particular days was lucky. Bread baked on Good Friday would bring you luck for the rest of the year and could cure you of your ailments.

Although that belief has died out, the buns remain popular, being tied in with the Easter tradition and because they are delicious.

Try out this classic recipe from for the spicy bun.

Makes: 16
Preparation time: 3 hours
Cooking time: 20-25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1½ teaspoons active dry yeast or 1½ tablespoons Surebake yeast mix
  • 1 cup warm milk
  • 100 grams butter, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 cups high grade flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon each ground allspice, mixed spice, cinnamon and nutmeg
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup mixed dried fruit
  • milk or egg wash to glaze

Cross paste

  • ½ cup flour
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • about ¼ cup milk

Method

Lightly grease a baking tray or line with baking paper.

Stir the yeast and milk together and set aside in a warm place for 15 minutes or until the mixture is frothy.

Beat softened butter and eggs into the frothy mixture. Put the flour, salt, spices and brown sugar into a food processor and pulse to sift.

Turn the food processor on. Pour the yeast mixture slowly down the feed tube until it forms a soft dough. Process for 1 minute. Add the dried fruit and pulse to just mix.

Turn the dough into a greased bowl, turn over and cover with greased plastic wrap. Set aside in a warm place for about 1 hour until the dough has doubled in bulk.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into 16 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball and place on the prepared tray with about 1-cm space between each bun.

Cover with a lightweight clean tea towel and set aside in a warm place for about 30 minutes until well risen.

Place the oven rack in the centre of the oven. Preheat the oven to 190 ºC.
Brush the buns with milk or egg wash to glaze. Pipe thin crosses onto the buns with the cross paste.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes.

Brush the hot buns with the sugar glaze (below) and return to the oven for 1 minute. Remove from the oven and transfer to a cake rack to cool.

Cross paste

Sift flour and baking powder together. Rub in butter. Stir in enough milk to make a thick batter that can be piped.

Sugar glaze

Dissolve 2 tablespoons sugar in 2 tablespoons hot milk.

Sponge the yeast as outlined in steps 2 and 3. Sift the flour, salt, spices and brown sugar into a large bowl and stir through the dried fruit. Make a well in the centre. Gradually mix in the frothy yeast mixture. Once most of the flour has been absorbed, turn the dough out onto a lightly floured bench and knead well for 10 minutes until the dough is smooth. Continue as above.

From Jesse Mulligan, 1–4pm

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