Make your own Hot Cross Buns

scan0004 While I fully realise that it is much easier to grab a packet of four buns off the supermarket shelf, making them yourself especially if you have children is so much more fun! You end up with a better product and a sense of achievement and 12 or 24 delicious buns to eat.

There are many recipes out there, mine differs slightly from most of them because I don’t really care for the slightly darker dough caused by using ground spices, so before I start, even the day before I make a bun spice mixture. This is available as a commercial product but I have never seen it anywhere else.

Using the liquid as detailed in the recipe, plus the sugar – bring this to the boil and add 1 stick of cinnamon, 3 whole cloves, three or four strands of blade mace and two crushed allspice seeds. Leave to stand covered for at least 4 hours or preferably (if you are really organised) for a day.

Ingredients (12 bun recipe just double it for 24)
500g white strong bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons dried quick action yeast
60g unsalted butter
110g (generous) mixed dried fruit (or just currants, or omitting mixed peel – depending on your taste)
1 egg size 3 (beaten)
100ml water (used in your bun spice)
175 milk (warm)
60g caster sugar (used in your bun spice)*

* if you can’t be bothered with this bun spice method and don’t mind slightly grey buns use a generous heaped teaspoon of ground mixed spice instead

For the Crosses
125g strong white bread flour
8-9 tablespoons cold water
1 dessertspoon caster sugar (optional)

For the glaze
1 egg size 3 plus 1 tablespoon of milk

Method
Put all the dry ingredients into a large bowl, add the butter and rub into the flour until fully combined
Strain the spices from the bun spice mixture
Warm the bun spice mixture and the milk, add the beaten egg and mix into the flour
Knead in the bowl until all the dry ingredients are combined into a soft dough
Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead well for at least 10 minutes
Set the bowl aside filled with warm water
Empty the bowl (a ceramic bowl is marginally better than glass or plastic but it doesn’t really matter, don’t go out to buy one specially unless you like the idea), dry it and grease it lightly with butter
Put the dough gently into the bowl and cover with a similarly greased piece of cling film
If you have a proving oven, or an oven with a proving facility, use that and leave the dough to double in size (which will take about an hour), otherwise leave in a warm place free from draughts
Once it has risen, turn the dough out again and knead gently
Cut into 12 (or 24) even sized pieces, and shape into balls, either between your hands or on the floured surface
Arrange spaced out on to a baking tray
Cover with greased cling film and prove again for 30 to 45 minutes- you can leave the dough in the fridge overnight but I have never done this and generally do not have room in the fridge and would only think of doing it if I have made the buns on Maundy Thursday
Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees C (500F or Gas Mark 10)
Prepare the mixture for the crosses: put the flour into a basin and gradually add the water until you have a thick smooth paste
Brush the risen buns with the glaze and pipe the crosses evenly across in long lines going both ways
Put the tray of buns into the centre of the hot oven AND IMMEDIATELY lower the temperature to 200C, 400F or Gas Mark 6
Bake for 15-20 minutes
Cool on a wire rack

On Good Friday morning gently re-heat the buns (they will take longer than the commercial variety) and eat with butter.

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