Easter is just around the corner, one of the best food holiday of the year (up there with Pancake Day and Christmas). The supermarkets are in full force – aisles packed to the brim with Easter Eggs and chocolate delights. However, the greatest smell is when you head to the bakery and pick up a pack of soft hot cross buns. The mixture of spices and dried fruit is too tempting to resist!
Every year I promise myself to try making them and never do. So this year, I decided to actually have a go. My bread history is not the strongest so I felt it would be best to follow a recipe from a reliable source – Mr Paul Hollywood. The recipe is a bit time-consuming, however it is great for those not completely comfortable working with yeast. And the end result – definitely worth the wait! My favourite part was the sticky apricot glaze, which added to the sweetness from the dried fruit and diced apple.
The original recipe can be found here. I omitted the mixed peel for mixed dried fruits as I love raisins and sultanas. The main change I would make next time is to bake the buns closer together, so that they are connected when baked and you get the satisfaction of tearing them apart.
300ml full-fat milk (plus 2 extra tbsps)
500g strong bread flour
1 tsp salt
75g caster sugar
7g sachet fast-action yeast
1 egg (beaten)
50g mixed dried fruit
Zest 1 orange
1 apple (peeled, cored and finely chopped)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
75g plain flour (for the cross – piping bag required)
3 tbsp apricot jam
Place the milk in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Remove from the heat and add the butter, stirring slowly to combine – leave it to cool until it is warm to touch. Put the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour the milk/butter mixture into the well, then add the egg. Mix well together with a wooden spoon, then use your hands to bring everything together to form a sticky dough. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 mins until smooth and elastic. Lightly oil a large bowl, put the dough into the bowl, cover with some oiled clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour (or until it has doubled in size).
After it had doubled in size, add the sultanas, mixed peel, orange zest, chopped apple and cinnamon to the bowl. Knead all of these ingredients into the dough until it is evenly combined. Cover with the clingfilm and leave to rise for another hour (or until doubled in size again).
Line two baking trays with baking paper. Once the dough is ready, divide into 14-15 pieces (you can measure each at about 75g); on a lightly floured surface, roll each piece into a ball and place onto the baking trays. Leave enough space for each piece to expand enough to touch. Lightly cover both trays with oiled clingfilm and leave to prove for a final hour. About 20 minutes before they have finished proving, heat the oven to 220C. Mix the plain flour with about 4-5 tablespoons to make a thick paste. Spoon into a piping back and pipe a cross on each bun.
Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown. When the buns are out of the oven, gently heat the apricot jam and pass through a sieve to remove any chunks. Whilst the jam is still warm, brush them over the buns to add a glace and leave to cool.