Hot cross buns (one a penny, two a penny)

Easter is almost upon us and as an avid baker, I could hardly wait to bake up a batch of hot cross buns. The smell of cinnamon through the house always fills me with contented bliss. Over the last few years, my family has come over to my place on Good Friday for toasted hot cross buns dripping with melted butter and a cup of coffee or tea, while the kids run around the back yard full of chocolate!

This hot cross bun recipe is essentially adapted from my sultana and cinnamon breakfast loaf recipe I posted last year. It’s super easy to make – even if you think that yeast based dough’s are too difficult. It makes 12 hot cross buns (though I made a double batch to feed the masses).

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sultanas (you can add some mixed peel if you like a traditional bun)
  • Spray oil
  • 18 oz. (4 cups) high protein bread flour (though plain flour will do); more for dusting
  • 2 tblsp caster sugar
  • 2 tblsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 packet (1/4 oz or 7g) dry yeast
  • 2 tsp cooking salt
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup warm water
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 1/2 oz. (100g or 7 tblsp) unsalted butter, softened

Flour paste (to make the cross)

  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 4 or 5 tblsp water

Sugar glaze

  • 1/3 cup water
  • 2 tblsp caster sugar

In a small bowl, soak the sultanas in hot water for five minutes. This step ensures that your buns stays nice and moist, otherwise the sultanas would suck the moisture from the dough mix.

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Soak sultanas in hot water

Using a stand mixer with a dough hook, mix together the flour, sugar, yeast, cinnamon and salt. Then add the milk, egg, water and unsalted butter. Mix for five minutes until the dough turns sticky and elastic. You can do this by hand on the kitchen bench if you don’t have a mixer. Usually I would activate the yeast separately to ensure the dough will rise, but if you have purchased the yeast packet recently, you should be OK.

Add the sultanas and mix through on low speed.

Spray a clean bowl with spray oil and scoop the sticky dough into it. Cover the bowl in cling wrap and leave it in a warm place to double in size (this can take up to an hour).

On a floured kitchen bench hand knead the dough again for five minutes. Divide the dough into twelve pieces and roll them into rough balls. Place them on a lined baking tray. You can bake them separately, but I like to bake them close together, so that they join to form one loaf. Leave the buns to rise again for another 30 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk together the water and flour to form a runny paste (if you want a thick cross use less water). The easiest way to make a cross on your buns is to use a piping bag. You don’t need to use a piping nozzle/tip. Just snip off the end of the piping bag.

Preheat the oven to 190C (375F). Bake the buns for 30 to 35 minutes until they are golden brown. The best way to test whether your buns are ready is to tap them on the bottom. If they sound hollow, they’re done.

To make your buns glisten and be nice and sticky, brush on a sugar glaze. Dissolve the caster sugar in the water in a small saucepan. Bring it to the boil for a few minutes before removing it from the heat. Using a brush, baste the buns.

Let them cool a bit before troweling on the butter and eating. I like to lightly toast my hot cross buns by cutting them in half and baking them in the oven until they are hot and slightly crispy. They also freeze really well if you’re not planning on eating all twelve buns at once.

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